President Obama

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Here’s a flashback from the Cold War tape loop we used to call Cuba policy:

In 2004, then U.S. President George W. Bush tightened the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, including stricter limits on how often Cuban-Americans could visit family on the island. The aim was to pressure the communist regime in Havana to adopt democratic reforms.

“We’re not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom,” Bush said, “we are working for the day of Cuban freedom.”

Following the death of three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, President Obama said that "attacks on police are an attack on all of us."

Three officers were killed and three others were wounded in an encounter that began shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday. Louisiana law enforcement said they believe the gunman who shot at officers was killed at the scene. A law enforcement source confirmed to NPR the identity of the shooter as Gavin Eugene Long.

"If there was ever a moment for all of us to reflect and reaffirm our most basic beliefs that everybody counts and everybody has dignity, now's the time," President Obama said in remarks during a visit to Orlando, Fla., to express his support for the victims of Sunday's deadly attack and their families.

As NPR's Scott Horsley tells our Newscast unit, "The president hopes his presence in Orlando will provide some support to the families of the 49 people who died in Sunday's massacre, as well as the dozens of people who are still recovering from the wounds they suffered."

Diane Guerrero / Twitter

Diane Guerrero is best known as prison inmate Maritza Ramos in the acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” Or as Lina in the CW series “Jane the Virgin,” set in Miami.

But Guerrero plays another, arguably more important role nowadays: celebrity immigration-reform spokesperson.

And for good reason. In 2001, when she was 14 years old, Guerrero came home from school one day to find her parents had disappeared. Her mother and father were undocumented immigrants from Colombia – and that day they had been deported.

Memegen

COMMENTARY

Venezuela’s economic disintegration has wrought severe shortages. Food, medicine, electricity. And now – ¡cónchale, chamo! – even Polar beer.

But there might be one scarcity above all others keeping President Nicolás Maduro awake and sweaty at night.

It’s a shortage of scapegoats. Especially U.S. scapegoats.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

In his historic speech from Havana last week, President Obama called for a number of changes in Cuba. More human rights. More economic reform.

But the one that seemed to elicit the most applause from Cubans was his call for more Internet – which Obama said “should be available across the island so that Cubans can connect to the wider world – and to one of the greatest engines of growth in human history.”

Only 5 percent of the island’s 11 million people have full household access to the Web. That’s one of the lowest –and slowest – Internet coverage rates in the world.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP via Miami Herald

The world is buzzing over the viral video of President Obama dancing tango Wednesday night at a state dinner during his visit to Argentina. And no one is watching it more than tango instructors, especially here in South Florida. Today they seemed to give el presidente thumbs up.

  President Obama's speech in Havana.

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Jason Margolis

On first impression, Radio and TV Martí looks and feels pretty much like any other newsroom. Emilio Vazquez shows me around, and we stop and watch two radio broadcasters behind a thick pane of glass.  

“We have a morning show known as ‘El Revoltillo,’ which is like an on-air swap market type of show, where people call in and offer different products and services for sale on island,” says Vazquez.

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Tom Hudson/WLRN

Elizabeth Duconge says she has quadrupled her income in the past two months. She had been an art curator in Havana. Now she works at a paladar in the Vedado district here.

Paladares are privately owned restaurants and some of the most visible reforms of the Cuban economy. Duconge said she makes 30 Cuban pesos a week waitressing at La Moraleja.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Shortly before President Obama arrived in Cuba today, a human rights march turned into an ugly street confrontation - an incident that served to send Obama two opposing messages.

The President's historic visit to Havana this week is largely focused on the opening of economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. But Cuba’s communist government and its pro-democracy dissidents are making it clear he can’t ignore the island’s political challenges.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

Cubans are getting ready for President Obama's historic three-day visit to their country starting Sunday. But the mood of the Cuban government and that of ordinary Cubans seem a bit different.

After more than a decade, Major League Baseball is coming back to Cuba and it will have a very important spectator.

The White House announced on Tuesday that President Obama would be on hand in Havana to watch an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team on March 22.

The Rays will be the first MLB franchise to play on the island since the Orioles played an exhibition game in 1999.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

This week, the White House announced President Obama and the First Lady will visit Cuba.

The trip will include meetings with a Castro as well as with Cuban entrepreneurs.

The decision for a presidential trip to Cuba comes with all the historic overtones that have accompanied the changing relationship between America and Cuba since late 2014 when the president announced a new strategy of engagement. It also came with the familiar criticism of the efforts.  We discuss the history and controversy surrounding the trip.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

Back in December, in an interview with Yahoo! News, President Obama said this about the possibility that he'd visit Cuba in 2016:

“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right.”

Most people thought he meant he first wanted to see more democratic and economic change on the socialist island. Since then, Cuban President Raúl Castro hasn’t announced any sort of reforms like freer political speech, multi-party elections or full Internet access.

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