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Cubans ex-pats and nationals begin to reconcile after Obama-Castro handshake

Beyond this week’s handshake between the presidents of the United States and Cuba, a slow thaw in bilateral ties has helped foster reconciliation among Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits. The rare encounter between Barack Obama and Raul Castro during a memorial in South Africa for anti-apartheid hero…

Elian Gonzalez blames U.S. law for childhood ordeal

Elian Gonzalez, who at age six sparked an international custody battle that ended in his dramatic return to Cuba, blamed a US law for his mother’s death in an interview posted Monday. In November 1999, Gonzalez was plucked from the sea off Florida’s coast after an overcrowded motorboat capsized en…

Cuba will allow foreign investors into new duty-free port zone

Cuba is setting up shop for foreign investors interested in getting in on its upgraded port in Mariel and a surrounding duty-free zone. Oscar Perez, head of the government’s office of business evaluations, said a new office will open November 1 to handle foreign investment in the port’s so-called Special…

Cuba ends unpopular dual-currency system after 19 years

Cuba announced Tuesday it was ending an unpopular 19-year-old dual currency system that has contributed to a growing wealth gap between Cubans with access to dollars and those without. Cubans who have access to convertible pesos are mainly those who work in the tourist industry or who receive money from…

Cuban merchants defy ban on sale of imported clothes

Privately-owned small retailers in communist Cuba are defying a government order to stop selling imported clothing or face stiff fines. Imported clothing is in high demand in Cuba because foreign apparel is cheaper and of higher quality than threads sold in state-run stores. “We have been here for three years…

Cuba will allow athletes to keep most of their winnings

Athletes in Cuba for the first time will be allowed to keep most of their overseas prize money, Havana said Friday, in a major policy shift intended to encourage would-be defectors to stay. The government announced in the daily Granma newspaper that Cuban athletes — who in the past were…

Cuba and U.S. reach maritime rescue agreement

Cuba and the United States have reached a rare preliminary agreement on working together more closely, in the field of air and maritime rescue, Havana’s state newspaper Granma said. Every year thousands of Cubans leave the country illegally aboard fragile boats to try to reach Florida, which is 145 kilometres…

American swimmer launches final attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida

U.S. swimmer Diana Nyad set off from Cuba Saturday in her fifth and final bid to become the first person to reach Florida without the protection of a shark cage. “Thanks, my Cuban friends,” the 64-year-old said in Spanish before she jumped into the water at the Hemingway International Yacht…

Guitarist completes first-ever paddleboard journey from Cuba to U.S.

By Michael Haskins KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) – A Tennessee musician on Friday became the first paddleboarder to cross the Florida Straits between Cuba and the United States, making the 110 mile journey in 28 hours as his father watched from a support boat. Ben Friberg, 35, arrived in Key…

Snowden not aboard flight from Russia to Cuba: reports

MOSCOW (Reuters) – There was no sign that former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was onboard a Russian plane bound for Cuba as it prepared to take off on Monday, a Reuters correspondent on the plane said. A flight attendant said Snowden was not on the plane and the…

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