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Pope Sits Down With Fidel Castro

Francis delights crowd in Cuba ahead of his US visit

(Newser) - Pope Francis and Fidel Castro, the man who transformed his country through decades of Communism, met today at the revolutionary leader's home shortly after the pope told tens of thousands of Cubans to focus their lives on service to others instead of ideology. Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi says during... More »

US, Cuba to Reopen Embassies This Summer

It could happen in a matter of weeks

(Newser) - It's another step toward normal relations between the US and Cuba, and it's a big one: The two countries will reopen embassies in each other's capitals this summer. Cuba says the move will happen July 20, though President Obama didn't provide a specific date in his... More »

US Removes Cuba From Terror List

Move paves way for reopening of embassies

(Newser) - President Obama's push to normalize relations with Cuba keeps steamrolling ahead: The State Department has officially removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, reports the BBC . The expected move will likely be followed by the reopening of embassies in the two countries. Obama notified Congress of... More »

3 Freed Spies Get Heroes' Welcome in Cuba

Still no sign of Fidel in wake of US deal

(Newser) - Three men who served long US prison terms for spying received a standing ovation in Cuba's parliament today, shaking their fists in victory as President Raul Castro declared that detente with Washington won't change the communist system he leads. The last imprisoned members of the "Cuban Five"... More »

Obama: Time for 'New Chapter' With Cuba

President says current approach is 'outdated,' needs to go

(Newser) - President Obama today confirmed that the US is going to play nice with Cuba after a half-century of frosty relations. "We will end an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests," said Obama, speaking after Havana released US prisoner Alan Gross . "Neither the American nor... More »

Russia Sends Spy Ship to Cuba

It's docked in Havana, without explanation

(Newser) - Vladimir Putin continues to be a busy boy in the wake of the Olympics. AFP reports that a Russian spy ship docked in Havana yesterday without explanation. The Viktor Leonov carries 200 sailors and is presumably chocked not only with high-tech weaponry but electronic eavesdropping equipment as well, notes the... More »

Cuba Gets First English-Language Bookstore

American ex-pat opens co-op

(Newser) - Cuba's first English-language bookstore, cafe, and literary salon opened in Havana yesterday. The brainchild of a longtime US expat, Cuba Libro launched with just 300 books on offer, about what you'd expect to find in the lobby of an average US bed & breakfast. Next to what's... More »

Rubio Joins Brouhaha Over Beyonce, Jay-Z Cuba Trip

US Treasury authorized 'people-to-people' visit: report

(Newser) - Now Marco Rubio is questioning Beyonce and Jay-Z's recent anniversary trip to Havana , a trip which an insider tells Reuters was licensed by the US Treasury department. Traveling to Cuba is normally forbidden for US citizens, with a potential punishment of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in... More »

Beyonce, Jay-Z in Hot Water Over Vacation

Florida lawmakers unhappy with the destination: Cuba

(Newser) - Two Florida lawmakers want to know why Beyonce and Jay-Z were celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in Cuba—where most Americans are still forbidden to travel, CNN reports. "Numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda,... More »

Fidel Castro Surfaces for Cuban Election

He makes first extended public appearance since 2010

(Newser) - A frail but definitely alive Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance in Havana yesterday to vote in Cuba's parliamentary elections. The 86-year-old former leader, who is often rumored to be dead or seriously ill, chatted with reporters and other voters in his first extended public outing since 2010,... More »

FARC Calls Unilateral Ceasefire

As a sign of goodwill ahead of peace talks

(Newser) - FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire in its ongoing war against the Colombian government as a sign of goodwill ahead of the peace talks that begin today in Cuba. The Marxist rebels have pledged to stop all military operations until Jan. 20, CNN reports. The government hasn't said if it... More »

Power Outage in Cuba Leaves Millions in Dark

Havana hit hardest, but outages reported around country

(Newser) - A power outage last night in Cuba left millions in the dark and sweltering heat, reports the AP . The outage hit around 8pm, affecting large parts of Havana for more than five hours, as well as the beach resort of Varadero, and there were even reports of brief power problems... More »

50 Cubans Infected in Cholera Outbreak

1 case turns up in Havana, far from outbreak source

(Newser) - Just days after cholera broke out in Cuba's southeastern city of Manzanillo, a case has been discovered in the capital, Havana, reports the BBC . Authorities say a contaminated well was responsible for the outbreak, which has killed three people and infected 50 so far. Another 1,000 are being... More »

Unlikely Tourist Hotspots for 2012

Panama, Finland, and Myanmar top the list

(Newser) - If you like cool design, upscale safaris, or a forbidden communist island, the New York Times can recommend 45 locales to visit in 2012. Among them:
  • Panama. See the world-famous canal before its expansion, then stay for Panama City's economic boom and Frank Gehry's first design in Latin
... More »

Poor Cubans Eye Gold Rush as Car Market Opens

Waiter earning $15 a month can sell 30-year-old Moskvich for $5K

(Newser) - Now that Cuba is allowing people to buy and sell cars , classic automobiles are going up for sale—creating a bubble that allows the wealthy to buy them, and poverty-stricken sellers to suddenly strike it rich, the New York Times reports. One waiter who earns $15 a month is looking... More »

Quickest Flight to Cuba Now From Key West

Feds approve flights, but restrictions remain

(Newser) - Americans can now legally hop a plane in Key West and skip over to Cuba: The US government has given the green light to Key West International Airport to run charter flights to the communist state 90 miles away, reports the Huffington Post . Restrictions do remain: Havana-bound flights are limited... More »

Quietly, Fidel Castro Turns 85

Cuban leader still a quiet force on island nation

(Newser) - Fidel Castro marked his 85th birthday outside of the public spotlight today, with little fanfare around the aging revolutionary icon who is rarely seen in public these days but still casts a long shadow over Cuban society. There were no announced celebrations of Castro's birthday, though the previous night... More »

Cuba Releases Photos of Elian Gonzales, 16

As a boy in the US, he set off a furor over immigration

(Newser) - Cuba has released photos of one-time exile cause célèbre Elian Gonzalez wearing an olive-green military school uniform and attending a Young Communist Union congress. Gonzalez, now 16 with closely cropped black hair, is shown serious-faced with fellow youth delegates during last weekend's congress in Havana. The images were... More »

Fidel Castro Again Calling the Shots

He's been gradually reasserting his authority in the last year

(Newser) - Fidel Castro may have turned over the presidency to his brother when he was seriously ill, but he's been gradually regaining his health and reasserting his authority in Cuba over the past year, writes Arian Camp-Flores. The Newsweek writer talks to several Havana experts who see unmistakable signs that Fidel... More »

Castro: Obama's Out to Destabilize Cuba

Cuban prez slams US over arrested contractor

(Newser) - Raul Castro signaled that his honeymoon with the Obama administration is over in an angry speech yesterday accusing the US of stepping up its effort to topple the country's Communist government. "The enemy is as active as always," said Castro, pointing to the Cuba's recent detention of an... More »

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