Cuba

A construction crew from Detroit did something last week that might have been hard to imagine in a different era: board a plane to meet a team of Cuban architects and engineers outside Havana.

They gathered at a hillside home that overlooks the capital city, and worked together on a project to protect literary artifacts and the personal belongings of a famous American writer.

Associated Press

For Rene, Miami has been a lonely place since his wife died eight years ago.

Although the 78-year-old from Guantánamo, Cuba, lives with his daughter and granddaughter, he’s alone most of his time. So in July, he asked for Cuban government permission to return.

“The loneliness kills me,” said Rene. “The end of the road for old people here is an institution because the family cannot take care of us,” he said. “And that would be the worst that can happen to me.”

Associated Press

The United States has decided maintain a reduced staff at its embassy in Havana, the Department of State announced Friday.

“The embassy will continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions, similar to the level of emergency staffing maintained during ordered departure,” the State Department said in a statement. “The embassy will operate as an unaccompanied post, defined as a post at which no family members are permitted to reside.”

It’s a mystery fit for a Cold War-era spy novel. In late 2016, officials with the US embassy in Havana started hearing strange noises that seemed to be directed right at their homes or hotel rooms.

Most called it a high-pitched sound. Some said it sounded like grinding metal, while others compared it to a kind of hum. Many said they felt pressure changes too, like the feeling of driving down a highway with only one car window open.

Franklin Reyes / AP

The oldest son of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro killed himself on Thursday after months of treatment for depression, state media reported. He was 68.

Flickr

“Doctor Zhivago,” the romanticized epic about the Russian Revolution, premiered in 1965 and it just screened in Cuba for the first time this week.

Miami Herald Staff

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suspended — for another six months — a provision in the Helms-Burton Act that would allow more Americans, including nationalized Cubans, to sue those on the island who have been “trafficking” in private properties confiscated decades ago by the Cuban government.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

The soda aisle in most grocery stores in South Florida looks different than a lot of other places in the United States. Bottles of Jupiña and Postobon  along with cans of Materva and Ironbeer pop out from the shelves in bright colors. For many people in South Florida, these are flavors of hold, companions to meals served hundreds of miles away from South Florida.

Associated Press

The U.S. State Department has changed its travel alert system and now recommends American citizens “reconsider” visiting Cuba. It had previously issued a warning advising Americans not to travel to the island.

“As we were putting all this together, we did a very careful assessment. We talked to all of our experts, and this is where we came out on Cuba,” Michelle Bernier-Toth, acting deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizen Services, said in a teleconference on Wednesday.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

In February 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two small, unarmed civilian airplanes piloted by members of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue – four of whom were killed.

Cuba argued the Brothers aircraft had violated Cuban airspace. But a U.N. investigation ruled otherwise, and the shootdowns were widely condemned as an unreasonably brutal act.

CubaOne

President Trump last year made it harder for Americans to travel to and do business with Cuba. In response, Cuba is making it easier for at least Cuban-Americans to engage the communist island. 

WLRN/Miami Herald

A lot has happened in the past 365 days.

A Category 4 hurricane plowed across the Florida Keys. President Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cubans. The death toll related to Florida's opioid epidemic climbed higher. Venezuela sank further into economic and social chaos.

For the last episode of The Florida Roundup in 2017, editorial page editors from the Miami Herald, the Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post — Nancy Ancrum, Rosemary O’Hara and Rick Christie — sat down with WLRN's Tom Hudson to review the year’s biggest news stories. 

Cuban Leader Raúl Castro Will Stay In Power Past February

Dec 21, 2017
AGP/Getty Images via Miami Herald

The Cuban government has announced that it will postpone a historic presidential election in 2018.

Cuban leader Raúl Castro will remain in power at least until April 19, the new date in which a new legislature and the president of the Councils of State and Ministers will be elected.

Castro had announced that he would retire at the end of his two terms on Feb. 24, the original date of the election of the new National Assembly.

Florida officials say the number of Cubans registering for government assistance dropped dramatically after a longstanding migration policy ended in January.

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

For those of us who favor loosening the screws on Cuba but tightening the screws on Venezuela, this week presents a nagging question: At what point do we become guilty of a double standard?

Venezuela’s regime just made an announcement that should cause some geopolitical navel-gazing in that regard. To wit: the ruling socialists, or Chavistas, said they’re considering not holding presidential elections next year as long as the U.S. keeps its financial sanctions against Venezuela in place.

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