U.S. President Barack Obama pushed Cuba to improve its record on human rights and sparred with President Raul Castro during a historic visit to the Communist-ruled island on Monday, while Castro hit back by decrying U.S. "double standards".
As far back as 1980, Raúl Castro began to harbor doubts about Cuba’s long-term sustainability. By 1990, with the loss of their Soviet patron and its $5 billion annual subsidy, Raúl’s doubts crystallized into alarm even while his brother Fidel hunkered down, resisting reform. And though Raúl took power in 2006, it would be six years before he could finally overrule his ailing brother, who turned 89 years old on Thursday. “There has been a sibling tug of war between Raúl and Fidel since childhood,” Domingo Amuchastegui, a former Cuban intelligence officer, tells me over lunch this summer at Versailles, the restaurant that serves as the mecca of Cuban life in Miami.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that it was past time for the U.S. to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba as he announced that the two countries were reopening their embassies after more than 50 years. "When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don't think anyone thought it would be more than half a century before it reopened," he said in remarks from the White House Rose Garden.
It's an image that's familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country's history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace. To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
The United States and Cuba began historic discussions on restoring diplomatic relations on Thursday, aiming to reach agreement on the opening of embassies in each other's countries.The
The United States rolled out a sweeping set of measures on Thursday to significantly ease the half-century-old embargo against Cuba, opening up the country to expanded travel, trade and financial activities. Defying hardline critics in Congress, President Barack Obama made good on a commitment he made a month ago to begin loosening some U.S. economic sanctions against the communist-ruled island as part of an effort to end decades of hostility.
Cuba has completed the release of all 53 prisoners it had promised to free, the Obama administration said on Monday, a major step toward détente with Washington. The release of the remaining detainees overcomes a big hurdle for historic talks next week aimed at normalizing ties after decades of hostility. The list of 53 is part of last month's breakthrough U.S.-Cuba agreement and includes many known to international human rights groups as "prisoners of conscience." The United States welcomed Cuba's action as a milestone, but senior U.S. officials said Washington would keep pressing Havana to free more people they consider political prisoners.
After a half-century of frigid relations, the U.S. and Cuba have agreed to a thaw as the result of 18 months of secret talks. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” President Obama told the American people in a historic statement on Wednesday. “Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.” Here’s what it means in real terms for Americans and Cubans alike:
This morning, I was in Havana in a room filled with Cubans watching their president, Raul Castro, announce the news that diplomatic relations with the United States would be resumed. When his speech ended, the room filled with cheers. The Cubans sang their national anthem and stood at their seats clapping with tears wetting their faces. We then sat together and watched President Obama inform the American people that Alan Gross, an American prisoner in Cuba, had turned to the United States after five years, that he would remove layers of sanctions that had punished the Cuban people, and that the U.S. would set aside the Cold War policies of the past. When his speech ended, with Americans sitting alongside our Cuban colleagues, we cried, too.
The US and Cuba have announced a broad agreement between the countries that will be a first and historic step toward normalizing relations after more than 50 years of hostility. Here are the basics of what each country has agreed to, as is known so far:
In March, I drove with my family from the Cuban capital, Havana, to the colonial town of Trinidad, through the city of Cienfuegos. We were more or less the only car on a very rutted road. Cienfuegos is a city of roughly 150,000 people, but it seemed dead. Its buildings were in a state of decay—just like most of the neighborhoods of Havana—and goods were being moved by donkey cart. My wife and I explained to our children that this is what can happen to a people, and to an economy, under communist rule. We spent days trying to teach them about Cuba's dual-currency system—a dollar-based system for tourists, and a make-believe one for ordinary, sometimes-hungry Cubans—but they had difficulty understanding it, because it made so little sense.
Barack Obama and Raúl Castro have thanked Pope Francis for helping broker a historic deal to begin normalising relations between the United States and Cuba, after 18 months of secret talks over prisoner releases brought a sudden end to decades of cold war hostility. The two presidents spoke simultaneously on Wednesday to confirm the surprise reversal of a long-running US policy of isolating Cuba, detailing a series of White House steps that will relax travel, commercial and diplomatic restrictions in exchange for the release of Americans and dissidents held in Havana.
The United States plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday. Announcing the end of what he called a "rigid" policy of isolation of Cuba that had been ineffective, Obama said the United States planned to move toward normal ties and would open an embassy in Cuba. The policy shift will mean a relaxation in some aspects of commerce and transportation between the United States and Cuba, but it does not mean an end to the longstanding trade embargo, which needs congressional approval.