Articles Posted in Uncategorized in Cuba are in limbo as the Castro government decides how much to loosen its firm grip on private enterprise. The private sector has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, with private employment rising from 140,000 in 2009 to 535,000 in 2016.

At the same time, Cubans working for the state at a rate of $25 or less per month have been flocking to slightly more lucrative private sector jobs, such as waiting tables and driving taxis. Those are not exactly the types of jobs that young, ambitious Cubans are thrilled to take, but unskilled jobs aren’t the only ones opening up. As Cuba finds its way, opportunities for professionals come and go. Continue reading

mojitos-300x200The best way to end a hot day in sunny Havana, whether you’re there for business or pleasure, is with a cold drink (or two). But contrary to the craft beer craze here in the States, in Cuba it’s more about where you drink as opposed to what you drink. If you’re looking for a hoppy IPA or nitro stout, for example, prepare to be disappointed. But with an open mind, you’ll be more than content with a Havana cocktail. Here are a few places in Havana that shouldn’t be missed on your next visit.

El Floridita

El Floridita is a historic bar just across the street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, making for the perfect afternoon combo. After all, fine art is so much finer after a drink.

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cuban-honor-guard-1800-ts600-300x200In the continuation of a truly bizarre and unfortunate trend, two US diplomats in Havana recently lost their hearing due to covert devices that perform “acoustic attacks”; that is, devices that play frequencies out of the range of normal hearing that can cause damage to the internal ear. One of the diplomats may never regain his hearing, and another reports that he now requires a hearing aid.

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Cuba has seen many changes in the last few years.  With the slow and steady influx of tourism from the US and a regime change, Cuba is gaining momentum as it turns toward more laissez-faire policies.  On a day-to-day level, these changes in policies have manifested themselves as a healthy crop of privately owned establishments–bars, hotels, and nightclubs are booming as Cuba’s private sector grows.

However, last week saw a brief halt in operations when the government instituted a temporary freeze on new licenses for a few of the more prominent private sector enterprises–room rentals, cafés, and restaurants, to name a few.

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Many think of old Havana of being just that–old, trapped in an era during which the United States (and much of the Western world) cut off contact. For a long time, this notion wasn’t far from the truth, but since the turn of the 20th century, Havana has been changingMany contributing factors, including a loosening of restrictions on small-scale private enterprise by the new regime, has led to a slow and assured blossoming of newness in the city. Continue reading

article-2640400-1E3C00BB00000578-573_634x408-300x193Cuba’s Disco Ayala is housed in a space that has been around for many thousands of years. You would have found a different kind of club there ten thousand years ago. That’s right: older than the Pyramid of Giza and the city of Babylon, the Disco Ayala is located in a natural cave formation one hundred feet below the surface of the earth in Trinidad, Cuba.

At party time, the cave’s dreary interior is lit up with the neon lights of a New York City nightclub and disco balls and projector screens hang next to stalactites. Don’t think that just because you’re surrounded by rocks that the Disco is stuck in the stone-age. Everything from top 40 hits to classic funk and hip hop are echo off the stony walls every night as throngs of energetic youth dance the night away.

Continue reading’Reilly 304 may sound to American readers like a local Gaelic league or an auto-parts store, but in Havana, it means the cutting edge of Cuban mixology. You’ll never forget its address, which doubles as the establishment’s name. Located on a street named for a long-lost Irish general from the Spanish empire, O’Reilly brings the world of hip liquor to the streets of Old Havana.

As with many of the most exciting watering holes in the city, the story of O’Reilly 304 begins with the removal of restrictions on private ownership. It was founded by two brothers in 2013. As soon as it was possible for them to open their ode to avant-garde cocktails, they leapt at the chance. One brother with experience in government run operations, José Carlo, runs the bar. The other, Julio Cesar, travels the country in search of the most delicious produce to feature in their recipes.

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cuba-art-2-200x300 A stone’s throw from the Fábrica de Arte Cubano in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana is a large, century-old Cuban villa. Eighteen years ago, it was dilapidated and nearly empty save for an old landlord who could not afford to keep it up. An American expatriate named Pamela Ruiz saw it and fell in love. Due to Cuban law at the time, she could not purchase it outright, and spent the next eight years on a journey of permuta to acquire the house.

Buying and selling private property was not allowed in Cuba, so all transactions had to occur through trading objects of equal value. Over the course of nearly a decade, Ruiz found somebody with whom to swap her apartment so she could offer a residence that the villa’s landlord thought would be a suitable trade. The landlord, after all, was climbing in years and could no longer ascend the kind of stairs that led to Ruiz’s apartment.

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Donald-Trump-300x200Four months after he was sworn in, President Donald Trump has yet to  undo former President Barack Obama’s Cuba policies. After much anticipation that an announcement on changes will be made this week, Trump has reportedly still not chosen a course of action, White House officials said.

The White House had wanted to unveil his plan on May 20 to commemorate the 115th anniversary of Cuba’s independence, but the president is beginning his international trip on Friday and the review of the policy changes the Obama administration made has still not been concluded, The Miami Herald reports.

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