The announcement that the United States and Cuba would reestablish diplomatic relations took most Cubans by surprise. Over half of the population was born after the severing of ties in 1961 and the start of the embargo that has marked their lives.
One of the major challenges assumed by President Raúl Castro when he launched a series of reforms in Cuba is improving living standards in a country still suffering from a recession that began over 20 years ago and has undermined the aim of achieving economic and social equality.
Leonor Pedroso’s sewing machine has dressed children in the Cuban town of Florida for 30 years. But it was only a few months ago that the seamstress was able to become formally self-employed.
Cuba’s sugar industry hopes to become the main source of clean energy in the country as part of a programme to develop renewable sources aimed at reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels and protecting the environment.
The Mariel special economic development zone, the biggest construction project undertaken in decades in Cuba, emerged thanks to financial support from Brazil, which was based on political goodwill, a strategy of integration, and business vision.
Hortensia Ramírez feels like she needs more hands to care for her 78-year-old mother, who suffers from arteriosclerosis, do the housework, and make homemade baked goods which she sells to support her family.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
An end to the country’s dual-currency system is one of the reforms most anxiously-awaited by Cubans, who nevertheless reacted with scepticism and doubt to the announcement of a timeline for eliminating the system, blamed for exacerbating social inequalities in the country.
As self-employment and cooperatives expand in socialist Cuba, they are making incursions into new areas, such as waste picking and recycling – for many a means of subsistence, but for others, a gold mine.
A rise in temperature modifies the physiological features of some plants – a consequence of climate change that is less perceptible than stronger and more frequent hurricanes, but just as harmful to food production.
One challenge faced by the Cuban government, and a high priority for citizens, is improving the efficiency and sustainability of public health services, a constitutional right that the state is supposed to ensure for all.
It's Saturday, and the entrance hall of a police station in front of the busy market in Salomon in the Haitian capital has become an improvised health post. In a few minutes there is a long queue of people waiting to be seen by the Cuban medical brigade.
The spread of the virus that causes dengue fever has created an emergency situation for institutions, governments and scientists in Latin America seeking sustainable solutions for a health problem that could worsen as a result of climate change.
Nine months after Hurricane Sandy, the worst disaster to hit this city in eastern Cuban in decades, local residents say they are now better prepared for catastrophes.
"The basic objective of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is people’s welfare, and I think that in this we have many affinities with what the Cuban government wants,” Regula Bäbler told IPS.
More than 100 non-farming cooperatives this month joined the independent sector of the Cuban economy, which includes self-employed workers and farmers granted public land to work, as part of the policy outlined by the government for modernising the management of state property.
Rather than talk about forecasts for hurricanes at the start of this year’s season, Cuban meteorologist José Rubiera prefers to discuss the importance of reducing the country’s vulnerability and improving preparedness.