Standing in line for a concert at the Centro Cultural Fábrica de Arte, a cultural centre in the Cuban capital, Alexis Cruz anxiously checks his billfold, where he has the price of the ticket – 50 Cuban pesos (two dollars) - and three CUCs (equivalent to one dollar each) to buy something to drink.
The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba’s new private sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna.
The generations born in Cuba in the last two or three decades, permeated by the influences of societies that differ radically from the one their government is trying to build, are in the eye of the ideological storm that feeds the conflict between Havana and Washington.
A new law opening Cuba up to foreign investment and a shift in the country’s relations with the European Union are aimed at seeking outside support to overcome the chronic crisis plaguing the country since the early 1990s.
The road to Guanímar, a fishing village on the southern coast of Cuba, is as narrow as the future of its 252 inhabitants, who don’t want to abandon the area despite its vulnerability to hurricanes, storm surges and flooding.
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.