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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…

Obama shakes hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro at Mandela memorial

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday shook hands with Raul Castro, leader of long-time Cold War foe Cuba, at the Nelson Mandela memorial service in Soweto. Obama offered the handshake before taking the stage to give his speech at the ceremony, in a new sign of his willingness to reach…

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…

Raul Castro promises end of an era in Cuba as he steps down as country’s president

Cuban President Raul Castro made the strongest statement yet that the island nation is preparing for a post-Castro era in announcing yesterday that he will step down in five years with plans to institute term limits. He also replaced his No. 2 with a younger Cuban who would be poised…

Pope meets revolutionary icon Fidel Castro

Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday with Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro on the last day of his trip to bolster the Roman Catholic church’s ties with Cuba’s Communist leaders. Shortly after celebrating mass before 500,000 people in the heart of Havana, Benedict met with the 85-year-old Castro for about 30…

Pope wants to see Fidel Castro on Cuba trip: source

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict wants to see Fidel Castro on his trip to Cuba next month but the meeting will depend on the health of the communist country’s revolutionary leader, a senior Vatican official told Reuters on Saturday. The official, speaking of the sidelines of a ceremony after…

Castro meets with Cuban intellectuals in 9-hour meeting

AVANA (Reuters) – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro held his second lengthy public event in a week, this time a nine-hour session with writers and intellectuals, Cuban state media said on Saturday, in another showing he is doing well after serious health problems. “Fidel with intellectuals: More than nine hours…

Cuba to pardon nearly 3,000 prisoners

Cuban President Raul Castro has unveiled plans to pardon some 3,000 prisoners for “humanitarian reasons,” a group amnesty of unprecedented size, and “gradually” reform onerous laws restricting foreign travel. The pardons include 86 foreign nationals from 25 countries, and will take place “in the coming days,” Castro said in a…

Communist Cuba set to end travel restrictions

President Raul Castro is Friday expected to announce an end to onerous, unpopular travel restrictions that have been in place for almost 50 years and which keep most Cubans from traveling abroad. The Roman Catholic Church and regime-friendly musicians like Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes have joined a chorus of Cubans calling…

US Jews urge Castro to free contractor

American Jews urged Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday to release a US contractor “on humanitarian grounds” after the communist island’s highest court upheld a 15-year sentence. In his appeal, Elan Steinberg, vice president of The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Their Descendants, noted that Alan Gross has…

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