Near the close of the harvest , local people in the Cuban municipality of San Juan y Martínez, which boasts the finest tobacco plantations in the world, are seeing their hopes of a plentiful season dashed by unexpected winter rains.
If President Barack Obama wants to move more quickly to normalise ties with Cuba, it appears he has gained the political space to do so, according to analyses of a major new bipartisan public-opinion poll released here Tuesday by the Atlantic Council.
Heads of state and government at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) made a joint commitment to reduce poverty, hunger and inequality, and declared their region a “zone of peace”.
Even as the United States and European Union begin to lift some sanctions on Iran, U.S. law continues to prohibit some businesses that provide non-controversial services, such as online education, from operating in Iran and other countries.
The stench hits as you walk through the door of one of the pleasant houses along the Quibú river in the Cuban capital’s Náutico neighbourhood. “The garbage piles up, it stinks, and there are even rats,” said María Angélica Suárez, a local resident who is tired of living this way.
The landscape is changing in Cuba’s cities and towns, with political slogans giving way to lighted signs advertising the best of local and international cuisine and air-conditioned lodgings – signs of an emerging private sector that was inconceivable until recently.
Cuba’s state education monopoly is increasingly sharing space with private operators, including churches and teachers working as tutors, which are filling in gaps and providing knowledge that has become necessary as a result of the country’s economic reforms, such as business management courses.
After three decades of supposedly planned socialism (1960-1990), when government plans were often only halfway fulfilled, lost in oblivion due to lack of oversight or of realism, or in the best of cases carried out any which way just to live up to the goals, Cubans got used to waiting (with or without hope) for the political leadership, financed with heavy Soviet subsidies, to come up with the next “plan”.
Nature reserves act as a safe deposit box for biodiversity and contribute to adaptation to climate change. But in a country like Cuba, plagued by a chronic economic crisis, efforts to increase the number of protected areas go largely unnoticed.
The 18 communities in Cuba’s Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, have long survived on the abundant local hunting and fishing and by producing charcoal. But that is no longer possible, due to climate change.
From a very young age, Irma Castañeda has braided her curly hair and cared for it with natural recipes inherited from her mother, ignoring the widespread conception that black women’s hair is “ugly” or “bad”.
The meagre budgets of Cuban families are put to the test when one of the members is diagnosed with cancer. Although treatment is free of cost, only extended networks of support help alleviate the economic impact of the disease, which is now the number one cause of death.
The extinction of a single species (a fish off the coast of Cuba, a bird in the Brazilian forest) creates a void that can trigger a whole series of repercussions, from the alteration of ecosystems to increased hunger.
For the Cuban economy, the year 2014 is set to start with the opening of the first installations in the Special Economic Development Zone in the upgraded Mariel port, 70 km west of Havana.
One year ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast United States, causing an estimated 68 billion dollars in damage and paralysing the world’s financial nerve centre.