WBEZ | havana http://www.wbez.org/tags/havana Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en White House explores ways to do business with Cuba http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-explores-ways-do-business-cuba-112755 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-483711172_wide-dab18d4d4e6ce1cfa38f290f818727773a1fa941-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>The Obama administration is considering ways to further ease travel and restrictions on Cuba. There is still an embargo in place and it would take an act of Congress to lift that.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The president, however, does have ways to make it easier for Americans to go to Havana or to sell goods there. A lot has changed already since the White House announced its new approach last year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Washington, D.C. lawyer Robert Muse managed to get a U.S. government license to start ferry services to Cuba. He describes the process this way:</div><div>&quot;As Ernest Hemingway wrote about going bankrupt, it happened both slowly and then suddenly. I had applied for the license several years ago and it just sat there in a kind of policy void.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Once President Obama announced an opening with Cuba late last year, everything changed. &quot;Out of the blue,&quot; Muse says, &quot;suddenly the license was granted.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That doesn&#39;t mean this is a done deal. Cuba still has to agree to allow ferries to bring people and goods from Miami. But at least on the U.S. side, he says, it is getting easier to get licenses, especially for sales to Cuba&#39;s small, but emerging private sector.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;That could be anything from a pizza oven to restaurant lighting to napkins and chairs. Anything you could think of. So the authority exists,&quot; Muse says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He&#39;d like to see the Obama administration go further to boost trade. So would Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, who has taken U.S. lawmakers and others to Cuba for many years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;One thing that we are seeing is that many of these companies, U.S. companies that are going down to learn what they can about the market and Cuban priorities are coming back and applying for licenses and getting them,&quot; Stephens says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She&#39;s asked the Treasury Department to change the regulations for travel too to make it easier for individuals to go &mdash; as long as they are on educational, cultural, religious or family visits, as required by U.S. law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If individuals are going to Cuba, the money they are spending is going directly into the hands of individual Cubans and that&#39;s really the goal,&quot; Stephens says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Not so says Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The folks who travel to Cuba today are subsidizing the Cuban military and the security forces because the Cuban travel industry is completely controlled by the Cuban military. That&#39;s a fact,&quot; he says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite warmer relations with the U.S., he says Cuban authorities still routinely round up and beat up dissidents. He argues that having more Americans going to Cuba or doing business there won&#39;t improve things for average Cubans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The contrary happens,&quot; Calzon says. American corporations that are in Cuba become lobbyists of the Cuban dictatorship because they are afraid of what the Cuban government can do to their investment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Calzon argues that President Obama has already gone too far to undermine an embargo that was put in place by Congress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Muse, the D.C. lawyer, says the president can still carve out exceptions, and should before he leaves office.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The president can leave the U.S. embargo on Cuba like a piece of cheese that&#39;s far more holes than cheese,&quot; he adds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The White House will only say that it &quot;continues to explore regulatory changes to provide new opportunities for American citizens and U.S. businesses.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/08/28/435416074/white-house-explores-ways-to-do-business-with-cuba?ft=nprml&amp;f=435416074" target="_blank"><em>Parallels</em></a></div></p> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-explores-ways-do-business-cuba-112755 From Cuba to Chicago: Pedro Páramo and Havana Blue http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/cuba-chicago-pedro-p%C3%A1ramo-and-havana-blue-106939 <p><p>Listen to artists from River North Dance Chicago, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Goodman Theatre and Cuba&rsquo;s Teatro Buendía as they discuss cross-border collaborations with dance, original music and theater that led to the world premiere productions of Havana Blue (music and dance) and Pedro Páramo (theater). Moderated by WBEZ&rsquo;s <strong>Tony Sarabia</strong>.</p><div>Panelists include:</div><div><strong>Raquel Carrió</strong>, Playwright, Cuba&rsquo;s Teatro Buendía<strong> </strong></div><div><strong>Frank Chaves</strong>, Artistic Director, River North Dance Chicago</div><div><strong>Orbert Davis</strong>, Artistic Director, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic<strong> </strong></div><div><strong>Henry Godinez</strong>, Resident Artistic Associate, Goodman Theatre</div><div><strong>Flora Lautén</strong>, Artistic Director, Cuba&rsquo;s Teatro Buendía</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>**Note: This audio starts a few minutes into the discussion.</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IC-webstory_3.jpg" title="" /></div><div><div class="image-insert-image ">Recorded live on March 14, 2013 at Instituto Cervantes Chicago.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 15:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/cuba-chicago-pedro-p%C3%A1ramo-and-havana-blue-106939 In Havana, no one likes Barack much anymore http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-07-28/havana-no-one-likes-barack-much-anymore-89774 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/interests section.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A visitor from the U.S. in Havana will, eventually and undoubtedly, be asked, “What’s going on with your president?”</p><p>The debt ceiling chaos overtaking Washington right now isn’t what baffles the Cubans. The very idea of a debt ceiling mystifies them, especially since Cuba lives on debt, and things like the national budget are not really discussed in much detail here. In fact, Cubans seem generally convinced the Washington mess is mostly theater and that all will work out – whatever it is that has to work out – before the Aug. 2 deadline. My constant concern with finding out what was going on back home did little but amuse them.</p><p>But Barack Obama, now sidelined in the most defining moment of his own presidency, seemed to elicit head scratching and perplexed looks.</p><p>In its own way, that’s quite a change from the way Cubans have been viewing American presidents since I began to travel to the island as an adult in 1995. Though Bill Clinton had initially been greeted with hope, by 1995 his response to the Cojímar exodus – including allowing the tightening of the embargo – had earned him criticism and suspicion.</p><p>No one, of course, has been hated more than George W. Bush in recent years. Besides the restrictions imposed on travel and remittances, Bush appointed James Cason, now the mayor of exile-heavy Coral Gables, Fla., as head of the U.S. Interests Section, the embassy in all but name, and his antics were legendary. Besides his recklessness in ensnaring dissidents in activities that eventually got a bunch jailed, Cason was best known for running electric signs across the embassy in 2000 that said things like, “Democracy for Cuba” and “Cubans, rise up!” – an outrageous breach of protocol, no matter what anyone may think of Cuba’s government.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/interests section.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; " title="The U.S. Interests Section in Havana, obscured by flag poles"></p><p>Fidel Castro, of course, responded in typical over-the-top fashion, razing the road in front of the embassy building and constructing an outdoor stage with scores of flag posts designed to obstruct the view of the embassy. Officially called the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Plaza, the Cubans informally refer to it as the “protestordomo,” because it’s been the site of hundreds of anti-U.S. rallies sponsored by the Cuban government.</p><p>Naturally, when Obama was elected, just about anyone would have had a better reception in Havana than the prior American president. But Barack brought particular things that made him more appealing than the average Democratic president of the behemoth to the north.</p><p>First, he’s black – an inspiration to the multitudes of Cubans of color, as was the case with people of color throughout the world. (Curiously, though Fidel had practically endorsed Obama in his commentaries, the government – in 2008 run by brother Raul – was well aware that Obama’s election put the lie to a good deal of propaganda about American racism, and that was a bit unnerving.) Second, he was going end the wars, close Guantánamo and bring an era of greater cooperation with Latin America that, everyone hoped, would also mean improved relations with Cuba.</p><p>Then, of course, there’s the story that supposes that <a href="http://www.babalublog.com/archives/010416.html%20">Barack is Cuban</a>. Before the 2008 election, rumors ran rampant that Obama’s mom got pregnant while on a solidarity tour of Cuba, his real father a man from the town of Sagua la Grande, and then rushed home and married Obama Sr. to cover it up. Just the vaguest chance that the president might be Cuban made him a big fave out on the streets of Havana.</p><p>Three years later, though, no one wants to lay claims to him.</p><p>Sure, he’s lifted some travel restrictions and laws regarding family reunification and remittances. But the wars continue, and Libya – a traditional ally of Cuba’s – is now feeling Obama’s bombs. And Guantánamo remains active, and Latin America has been almost completely ignored.</p><p>“¿Qué pasó?” the Cubans ask, sadly and sincerely.</p><p>And me, I have no answers at all.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-07-28/havana-no-one-likes-barack-much-anymore-89774