United States government has announced that, effective in March, it is making staffing cuts to its embassy in Havana permanent. These cuts are expected to have significant consequences for Cuba’s economy and its citizens, and they send US-Cuba relations to their lowest point since normalization began four years ago.


Staffing levels at the embassy were initially reduced in the wake of the “health attacks” on the embassy which began in 2016. The cause and exact nature of these attacks are still unknown. The U.S. government has not accused the Cuban government of any wrongdoing, but says the Cubans were responsible for the safety of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana.

Continue reading March 11, Cubans will go to the polls as the country continues to move towards a new political reality. Then, on April 19, the freshly elected National Assembly will select a new president.

For the first time in nearly 70 years, that president will not be a member of the Castro family. In 2013, Raúl Castro announced he would retire at the end of his second term as president of Cuba. Coming at a time of tension in the economic and social spheres, Cubans are bracing for a period of transition.

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China, Cuba Cigar DealHabanos S.A.’s revenue from international sales rose 12 percent to a record ~$500 million in 2017 thanks to the growing Cuban cigar market in China, the company announced Monday at the annual cigar festival in Cuba.

Habanos S.A., jointly owned by Cuba’s state-run Cubatabaco and Britain’s Imperial Brands, owns the trademarks of every brand of Cuban-made cigars and cigarettes exported globally, including high-end brands like Montecristo, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and Partagas.

The company announced that sales in China rose 33 percent in value last year. The Chinese export market is the company’s third largest after Spain and France.

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Congressional-delegation-meets-with-Castro-300x169Cuba has been using two currencies for over 20 years now but it may soon go back to one, according to a U.S. congressional delegation visiting the island this week.

“Cuban officials repeatedly said this was the year to get it done, to unify the currency,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

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raulo-300x169Once upon a time, Cuba accumulated billions of dollars in debt. A handful of countries worldwide lent Cuba money under the late Fidel Castro, but Cuba hasn’t paid off what it owes.

Despite restructuring some of these loans within the past 5 years, the time for Cuba to repay their debt is nigh, as a creditors group has begun to start the legal process to recover the debt. Continue reading

donny-300x169The Trump administration wants to create an “internet task force” to expand information access in Cuba, but not everyone is for the plan. Alan Gross was arrested and jailed in Cuba in the year 2009 for doing his job; he was a United States government contractor employed by USAID – the United States Agency for International Development.

Gross was held until his trial in March of 2011, when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Released in 2014, he has been a political activist and author ever since. Now, he is speaking out against the Trump administration’s plans for Cuba. Continue reading

Cuba-Marti-Statue-300x168When it comes to US-Cuba relations, it is rare these days to see a sign that relations are improving. And it’s even rarer to see government officials from both countries sharing a positive moment together. But that’s just what happened this past Sunday during a morning sunrise in Havana, Cuba’s capital.

Raul Castro–along with his rumored successor, Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel–were present along with three US Members of Congress for the unveiling of a statue of Cuban national hero Jose Marti. The statue was sponsored and funded by the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

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tourism-300x169The Cuban tourism industry has gone through some ups and downs throughout the years. During the latter years of the Obama presidency, U.S. travelers enjoyed a great amount of leniency regarding visits to Cuba; in 2017, President Trump rolled back that leniency.

The Trump rollbacks were intended to starve the island nation’s state-run economy of U.S. tourism dollars, increasing pressure for regime change. However, the rollbacks don’t seem to be having their intended effects, as Cuba’s tourism industry continues to thrive.

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cubasolo-300x186Last Wednesday, the State Department announced that it was lowering the severity of the travel alert for Cuba. The new recommendation is that Americans “reconsider” traveling to the island nation.

The announcement comes after a nearly four-month period in which the State Department advised that Americans not travel to Cuba under any circumstances. Tensions are still running high between the two countries after the sonic attacks last September, which prompted the State Department to set the “do not travel” warning.

Continue reading has joined the ranks of those affected by the sonic attacks that were initially thought to have plagued just United States diplomats, adding more complexity to an already tense situation.

The Canadian capital of Ottawa acknowledged that an unspecified number of Canadians in Cuba had been affected based on the fact that a doctor had been sent by the Canadian federal government to investigate the attacks on its citizens. The new facts add a new angle to the attacks, as many speculated that whoever was responsible for the attacks had an anti-American agenda. Continue reading