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Cuba

The Trump administration is ending a nearly 2-decade-old program that had become the most popular way for Americans to legally visit Cuba, banning all trips by cruise ships and other recreational vessels in the process.

The changes are intended to further squeeze the Cuban economy while keeping U.S. dollars "out of the hands" of the communist government. It goes into effect June 5.

It's Complicated
Roberta Friedman

This week saw the end of an era in Cuba, as Raul Castro stepped down from the presidency on Thursday. During the island’s decades of comparative isolation, film and art have offered rare glimpses into life in Cuba.

Updated at 6:10 a.m. ET

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to keep open the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, after pledging during the campaign to "load it up with some bad dudes."

AK Rockefeller / flickr creative commons

Mistrust of the government's version of the facts... Paranoid conspiracy theories... Allegations of treason... Distrust of American institutions... Controversial governmental investigations...

You might say that America's modern era started 54 years ago today in Dallas.

Americans can still fly to Cuba under new rules put out by the Trump administration's new rules. But once they land on the island, they'll need to avoid more than 80 hotels and dozens of other companies that the U.S. says are tied to Cuba's military, intelligence or security services.

The State Department issued a Cuba Restricted List on Wednesday, placing dozens of hotels off-limits to American visitors. (See the full rundown at the end of this post.)

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A West Hartford youth baseball team is keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Irma as it pummels the Caribbean. Irma is on track to make landfall in Cuba, where the team visited and played baseball back in April.

Michael Cote / Creative Commons

Bill Cosby's trial for alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004 ended in a mistrial Saturday due to a hung jury. Despite the judge saying this was not a win for either side, Mr. Cosby's spokesperson declared, "Mr. Cosby's power is back!" 

Updated at 2:34 p.m. ET Friday

President Trump has announced new restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, backtracking on the policy of greater engagement with the island pushed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," Trump told a cheering crowd of Cuban exiles in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. "Easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people. They only enrich the Cuban regime."

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at age 90, according to Cuban state media, confirms NPR.

Castro, who took power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959, led his country for nearly 50 years.

After undergoing intestinal surgery, Castro had ceded power in July 2006 to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday on Cuban state television.

Under Fidel Castro's direction, Cuba became the one and only communist state in the Western Hemisphere.

Eduardo Rawdriguez

Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa’s new, celebratory album, El Viaje (The Voyage) surges with an abundance of inspiring exuberance, pyrotechnical brilliance, fiery passion, luminous lyricism, and rhythmic propulsion. 

  Back in April, young baseball players from West Hartford traveled to Holguin, Cuba, the first leg of the 2016 USA Cuba Goodwill Tour. 

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President Obama’s visit to Cuba last month was historic for that country, and for relations between Cuba and the U.S. For many Cuban Americans living in the U.S., this trip, and the warming relationship between the countries, doesn’t wipe away those barriers of pain and separation. 

Anton Zelenov / Creative Commons

A group of young baseball players from West Hartford are in Cuba for a week to play baseball and distribute supplies in the town of Holguin. 

The Rolling Stones Rock Cuba

Mar 26, 2016

Historians hailed U.S. President Obama's visit to Cuba as the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. But for hundreds of thousands of Cubans, the real thrill this week was the visit of some prominent Brits: The Rolling Stones.

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The thaw in relations with Cuba has sparked a huge amount of interest in the possibility of doing business with that nation, after 60 years of isolation. And one Connecticut entrepreneur hopes it's not just U.S. giants that get to play in Cuba.

General Electric wants to be one of the first American companies to capitalize on the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. The Fairfield-based conglomerate expressed its interest in providing power, aviation and medical equipment to the Cuban government in an agreement signed Monday. 

Capping a historic visit to Cuba, President Obama delivered a sweeping speech about American ideals and reconciliation at the Gran Teatro de la Havana.

"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas," Obama said.

The speech was carried live by Cuban state television, giving Obama a chance to speak directly to the Cuban people. Cuban President Raúl Castro sat in the balcony of the theater, where he heard Obama issue a tough rebuke of the Cuban regime's crackdown on dissent.

"This is a new day — es un nuevo dia — between our two countries," President Obama said after meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro in Havana.

The two leaders agreed that there are still deep fissures between the two countries and that a healthy relationship between them will take work.

That uneasiness was apparent as soon as journalists began asking questions. Obama and Castro were not supposed to take questions, but a last minute change made that possible and Obama called first on CNN's Jim Acosta, who is Cuban-American.

Starwood

The drama involving Stamford’s Starwood Hotels and Resorts continues. It now looks as if the company will go with its original merger partner after all. 

Havana will meet the Rolling Stones later this month.

The band has announced they'll play a free open-air concert in the Cuban capital on March 25.

That will make them "the most famous act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution," the Associated Press reports.

U.S. operation of the Guantanamo Bay military detention center in Cuba is "contrary to our values" and is seen as "a stain on our broader record" of upholding the highest rules of law, President Obama said Tuesday as he announced plans to close the facility.

Obama To Visit Cuba Next Month

Feb 18, 2016

Building on the opening to Cuba he launched 14 months ago, President Obama will visit the island as part of a multi-nation Latin America trip planned for next month.

According to Thursday's formal announcement by the White House, the president and first lady will travel to Cuba on March 21-22. "In Cuba, the President will work to build on the progress we have made toward normalization of relations with Cuba — advancing commercial and people-to-people ties that can improve the well-being of the Cuban people, and expressing our support for human rights," the statement read.

Michael Iamele / Soul de Cuba Café

American Airlines and Jet Blue have announced plans to offer scheduled flights to Cuba. This follows last week’s new agreement on commercial flights between the island nation and the United States. 

In one of the largest waves of Cuban migration in decades, more than 70,000 have fled the island this year, rushing to the U.S. out of fear that its preferential policy toward those escaping the Castro regime might change.

Updated at 11:45 p.m. ET

Thousands of Cubans packed Havana's Revolution Square to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis, history's first Latin American pope, erupting in cheers as the pontiff approached in his open-sided popemobile.

Believers and non-believers waved Cuban and Vatican flags as they thronged the square, overlooked by a huge portrait of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. The pope in his homily steered clear of politics, but focused on the need for Christians and others to help their fellow man.

The only American military installation abroad that's unwelcome to its host government is the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A treaty signed in 1934 leases Guantanamo to the United States in perpetuity, for about $4,000 a year. And the U.S. has no plans to leave, despite the two countries having just restored diplomatic ties.

The U.S. and Cuba have restored diplomatic relations and reopened their embassies — but it's not yet open season for American tourists hoping to visit the island. The U.S. embargo on travel and business means you still have to have a valid reason to go — and that doesn't include sitting on the beach and drinking mojitos.

Diane Orson / WNPR

    

As politicians continue to navigate the historic diplomatic thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, musicians from both countries say they’re looking forward to more artistic exchange.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Dodd's name is being floated as a possible candidate to become the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than half a century.

President Obama on Wednesday announced the formal resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than half a century of hostilities. The two countries have agreed to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana.

Standing in the White House Rose Garden, Obama called it "a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people."

Obama said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana this summer to "proudly raise the flag over our embassy once more."

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