After more than a half-century of a commercial, financial and economic embargo, U.S.-Cuban trade relations took a significant step forward this month.
Five gargantuan modern irrigation machines water the state farm of La Yuraguana covering 138 hectares in the northeastern province of Holguín, the third largest province in Cuba. However, “sometimes they cannot even be switched on, due to the low water level,” said farm manager Edilberto Pupo.
In the past, all rural homes in Cuba had gardens for putting fresh vegetables on the dinner table. The local term for these gardens is “conuco”, a word with indigenous roots that is still used in several Caribbean nations.
The United States has indicated a clear interest in buying organic produce from Cuba as soon as that is made possible by the ongoing normalisation of ties between the two countries. But farmers and others involved in the agroecological sector warn that when the day arrives, they might not be ready.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raúl Castro will go down in history as two statesmen who managed to overcome more than half a century of hostility to bring back together two neighbouring countries with too many shared interests to remain at loggerheads.
Activists and researchers dedicated to the study of gender violence in Cuba insist on the need for a comprehensive law to protect the victims and prevent the problem, which was publicly ignored until only a few years ago in this socialist Caribbean island nation.
While the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is moving ahead, and the U.S. and Cuban flags have been proudly waving in Havana and Washington, respectively, since last July, the year gone by since the thaw has left many unanswered questions.
The crisis that has broken out at several border crossings in Latin America as a result of thousands of Cubans attempting to reach the United States has revived a problem that remains unresolved between the two countries in spite of agreements, negotiations and the diplomatic thaw that started a year ago.
Denia Arrascaeta suffers water shortages on a near daily basis in the neighbourhood in the Cuban capital where she lives. “Sometimes I don’t even have water to drink,” she told IPS.
Thousands of Cubans heading for the United States have been stranded at the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border since mid-November, waiting for the authorities in Managua to authorise their passage north.
When night falls, young men can be seen sitting on a dismantled bus stop on a remote hill far from the centre of the Cuban capital. Later they climb uphill to have sex with other men in the thick forest.
Cuba's oil industry only exploits five percent of the petroleum found in onshore and offshore deposits due to a lack of foreign capital and technology to develop oilfields like Varadero 1000, the country's biggest oil operation until now.
Cuba and the United Arab Emirates agreed to strengthen diplomatic ties and bilateral cooperation during an official visit to this Caribbean island nation by the UAE minister of foreign affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Armando Marcelino Pi divides his day between the university, where he teaches philosophy, work on his family farm, and coordinating a group of 33 agroecological farmers, in this mountainous rural municipality in western Cuba.
Young people in Cuba are anxiously awaiting an acceleration of the informatisation of society, which is apparently moving ahead at the same pace as the current reform process, “without haste, but without pause,” according to the authorities.