U.S.-Cuba relations

Courtsey Carla Leon

Before Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s north coast last month, Carla León’s private business – renting her family’s three-bedroom house in Havana through Airbnb – had already begun losing customers thanks to another force of nature: Donald Trump.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

ANALYSIS

Ever since former President Barack Obama normalized relations with Cuba three years ago – heralding the possibility of a new era after half a century of hostility – cold warriors on both sides of the Florida Straits have gnashed their teeth at the rapprochement.

But in the coming days and weeks, sources say the Trump Administration may well shelve a good chunk of the new normal in favor of the old normal the hawks prefer – in effect, the re-freezing of U.S.-Cuban relations.

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

This is turning out to be quite the embarrassing summer for communist Cuba.

This week the State Department revealed that two Cuban diplomats working in Washington had been booted out of the U.S. in response to “incidents” last year that made U.S. diplomats working in Havana physically ill. The Associated Press reported investigators believe sonic devices were planted in the U.S. diplomats’ residences that left the Americans with hearing loss.

Andrew Harnik / AP via Miami Herald

In a bizarre diplomatic dust-up between the U.S. and Cuba, the State Department revealed Wednesday that it expelled two officials from the Cuban Embassy in Washington in May in response to “incidents” at the U.S. Embassy in Havana last year that left American officials physically ill.

Andrew Harnik / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

I don’t usually feel sorry for Central American heads of state. Too many of them, right-wing or left-wing, have done their damnedest to perpetuate the image of the corrupt, tin-pot strongman.

Facebook via Miami Herald

Since the U.S. and Cuba normalized relations almost two years ago, Cuban migration here has surged. But a new study shows us just how dramatic that wave has become.

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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.

Tom Hudson / WLRN

President Obama is going to Cuba this weekend.

WLRN's Tom Hudson and Tim Padgett are there awaiting Obama's visit. What is the mood in Havana ahead of the historic trip? And they're looking at the changes that have occurred since the two nations started talking again.

Donald Trump looks like the Republican nominee in this presidential election, while Florida's Senator Marco Rubio is back in the halls of the senate, now that’s he no longer running for president. But, what do we make of his claim that he won’t return to politics after January?

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The Republican presidential candidates gathered at the University of Miami for its last debate before the Florida primary on Tuesday.

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

America’s changing relationship with Cuba was part of the discussion at last night’s Republican primary debate.

Donald Trump said he doesn’t agree entirely with President Barack Obama’s diplomatic openings with Cuba, but something needs to change.

“After 50 years, it’s enough time, folks," said Trump. But we have to make a good deal.”

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.

mountainsoftravelphotos.com

For half a century, only charter flights have been allowed to ferry people from the U.S. into Cuba.

But today, the two cold-war foes will agree to let regular U.S. commercial flights land in the communist island: 20 a day into Havana and 10 daily into nine other Cuban cities.

“This means more people-to-people contact,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transportation Thomas Engle told reporters over the weekend. “All to the good of mutual understanding.”

AP via Miami Herald

Has President Obama’s policy of engaging Cuba succeeded or failed? It’s probably much too early to say – but the fundraising efforts of groups on both sides of the issue indicate something important is working.

The New Cuba PAC (political action committee) was launched last spring in Miami and is based in Washington D.C. It supports President Obama’s year-old project to normalize relations with Cuba – including efforts to repeal the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

On Thursday New Cuba announced it had raised an impressive $350,000 in its first six months.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

“The year 2015 has seen more firsts than in 50 years,” says Tom Hudson, WLRN’s Florida Roundup host.

 

He spoke with WLRN’s Tim Padgett and Fusion’s Latin America editor Tim Rogers to discuss the pathway to normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, the migrant crisis in Central America and Venezuela’s crumbling economy.

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