Obama

Former President Barack Obama has kept a low profile since he left office. It was just a coincidence that the man who so inspires Democrats made one of his rare public appearances in Beverly Hills on Thursday night during what has been a mostly dispiriting week for members of his party.

Desmond Boylan / AP

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is ending a longstanding immigration policy that allows any Cuban who makes it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Cubans Embrace President Obama's Call For Change On The Island

Mar 23, 2016
Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It's fairly apparent that President Obama's historic speech to Cubans yesterday was received positively on the island.

Obama called for democracy, free expression and a freer economy during his 35-minute speech at the Gran Teatro in Old Havana Tuesday morning. Obama even directly addressed Cuban leader Raúl Castro, who was in the audience, telling him the U.S. presidential visit means he no longer needs to fear Cuba's Cold War foe.

"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas," Obama declared in perhaps the linchpin line of his speech.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

HAVANA - Rubén Valladares just might be one of the most important entrepreneurs in Cuba.

No, he’s not a tourism tycoon. He’s not a tech titan.

Truth is, he makes…paper bags.

“But we are the biggest provider of bags in Cuba,” says Valladares, a slender, middle-aged man who finishes his sentences with the sort of raspy chuckle that helps people get through each trying day on this island.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

HAVANA - President Obama is betting that business owners will be engines of change in communist Cuba. Especially millennials. Two of them will meet the President on Monday in Havana – and then head to Miami this summer for more intense biz training.

Oscar Matienzo is a 25-year-old Afro-Cuban with a sharp head for fashion and computer marketing. He’s put both those talents to work for Procle, the private clothing business his family owns in Havana.

Sonora Carruseles / Facebook

Maybe you’ve never heard of the Miami salsa band Sonora Carruseles. But President Obama has. This week he put one of the group’s songs on his summer playlist – and the Colombian-American ensemble is obscure no more.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

I’m waiting any moment now for Marco Rubio to demand that President Obama recall our ambassador to China and shut down our embassy there.

Presidencia de Panama

The Summit of the Americas kicks off Friday evening when the hemisphere’s heads of state inaugurate the two-day gathering in downtown Panama City. But while there a host of issues to discuss, all eyes are on just two guys: President Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro.

Arnulfo Franco / AP

Here’s the conventional line you're hearing about President Obama and this week’s Summit of the Americas:

Up to now, Obama had been doing many smart things to improve dysfunctional U.S.-Latin American relations. On issues like immigration, the drug war and especially Cuba – in December he announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with its cold-war communist foe – a gringo president was finally getting it.

Lechmoore Simms / Flickr

President Obama heads this week to the Summit of the Americas in Panama where he’ll meet with the hemisphere’s other heads of state. But Obama first travels on Wednesday to Jamaica – where Caribbean leaders may be happier than usual to see him.

Matt Ortega /Flickr

Budgets are said to embody values, and President Barack Obama’s budget surely shows his legislative values. The $3.9 trillion budget would levy new taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for things to help low and middle income families, like free community college.

That’s not sitting well with Republicans in the region. South Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo says it’s a political document.

Day Donaldson / Flickr Creative Commons

On Thursday President Obama finalized a big part of his efforts to normalize relations with communist Cuba. And they take effect Friday, much earlier than expected. They include loosening travel and trade restrictions – but the question from those who know the Havana regime well is: Will Cuba loosen up too?

The new regs make it much easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there. They can even use U.S. credit cards. They can also do more business with Cubans – export capital goods like telecom equipment and help finance small Cuban enterprises.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

What President Obama did on December 17 was hardly going to prevent what Cuban leader Raúl Castro did on December 30.

Obama last month announced plans to normalize relations with communist Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago. As if to test the waters in the wake of that historic decision, a new Cuban dissident group called Yo También Exijo (I Also Demand) called a free-speech gathering in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for December 30.

Luke Sharrett

Debate performances aside, President Barack Obama is already claiming a "ground game" victory in Florida.

His campaign has sent out a memo touting gains made in voter registration and absentee voting numbers compared to four years ago

It also points out that the campaign never left Florida after the 2008 win over John McCain, and has trained 20-thousand people to register voters.

The campaign also says voter registration among black and Hispanic voters has increased substantially since the last election.