July 3, 2015 |
President Obama's latest move to further relations with Cuba was barely off his lips when critics unloaded on the plan to open a U.S. embassy in Havana and permit Cuba to open one in Washington. "Today's announcement cannot be considered normalization ... if it fails to speak to key issues such as whether [the] U.S. government will be limited in the number of diplomats [or] if diplomatic mail can be searched and potentially seized by Cuban authorities," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.)
June 25, 2015 |
Six months after Christopher Tur's body was found in the water off the U.S. Naval Station at Cuba's Guantánamo Bay, the Hatfield native's death remains a mystery. The Navy is still silent on the cause and manner of the civilian contractor's demise. Investigators have declined to comment on a news report of an affair between Tur's wife and the base's former commanding officer, a claim that attorneys for both parties have said is not true. Then there's the private autopsy of Tur's body, commissioned by his wife, that concludes his death was caused by "drowning with recent blunt injuries (circumstances unknown)
June 22, 2015 |
"We want to see Cuba before it changes. " Simultaneously, on different continents, the brilliant Germans, Turks, Argentineans, Mexicans and other Americans staying at our Havana guest house all hatched the unique idea that they needed to get to Cuba before Starbucks, Chipotle and Urban Outfitters do. My husband Jon and I got back last week from our 11-day visit. By the time I finish this paragraph, things may have changed but despite America's new opening, we had to book our trip with a tour organizer (Australian)
June 8, 2015 |
HAVANA - Palm fronds shade Margarita Alvarez's magnificent mansion, a classic beauty, but showing its age. Built in 1901, it has 18-foot ceilings, foot-wide crown moldings, marble floors, and columns of veined marble. A portrait of a previous owner, a Cuban secretary of state from the 1920s, hangs in the parlor. Out back are the two rooms that Alvarez rents in her bed-and-breakfast, casa particular . The house, three blocks from the iconic Hotel Nacional, is desirable in many ways.
May 25, 2015 |
CENTRAL CAMILO CIENFUEGOS, Cuba - On the weathered railway platform of this faded sugar town, retired mechanic Pedro Ramon Prieto Napoles, 74, awaited the "Hershey train" and waxed nostalgic about the years the mill was humming. "I miss the sound of the refinery," he said, "the factory whistle" between shifts, "the smell of guarapo ," fresh sugarcane juice. Pennsylvania chocolate baron Milton Hershey built a model industrial town here in 1916, along with an electric railroad completed in 1922, to support his lucrative sugar holdings in Cuba.
May 23, 2015 |
Ice skating is so last season. The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DRWC) will reopen its summer festivities Friday, such as Spruce Street Harbor Park, the massively popular outdoor space that helped Philly land on the No. 3 spot on the New York Times' places to visit in 2015 (behind Milan and Cuba). This year, there's the added bonus of Summerfest at the Blue Cross RiverRink, where the DRWC will add Philly's only outdoor skating rink to its list of activities. Roller skates and blades are available for rent at Summerfest, but let's be honest - it has been a minute since you hopped on eight wheels.
May 20, 2015 |
CARDENAS, Cuba - The Cine Teatro, a cavernous theater of 1,250 seats, presents movies in this gritty city of 140,000, where the taxis are horse-drawn buggies, Che Guevara's portrait overlooks the main drag, and many buildings have battered facades. One wall that is smooth and clean is the northern side of the movie house - 90 yards long, seven yards high. On it, muralists from Cardenas and Philadelphia hope to paint images to inspire and celebrate better U.S.-Cuba relations. Working together, they want to demonstrate how a joint project on public art can help dispel decades of distrust between historic enemies.
May 18, 2015 |
HAVANA - Crossing the campus of Cuba's premier university, Janelle Crilley passes a mural portraying corporate America as a sharp-toothed ogre trampling black hills labeled "99 percent. " The Earth, torn to shreds by the ogre's bite, is in its paws. Grappling hooks strain to drag down the beast. In a country virtually devoid of commercial advertising, such anti-imperialist images and slogans abound. Studying in a communist country is an adventurous choice for any American.
April 20, 2015 |
As a teacher of history and a child of the Cold War period, I was always fascinated with the events that led to the U.S. embargo against Cuba. The island nation, the Caribbean's largest, was the "forbidden fruit" of travel, which only heightened my desire to visit it. When I learned about the people-to-people tours that allowed travellers to go to Cuba to see what the Cuban government wanted them to see, I quickly made a reservation. After a briefing on what to expect, what not to expect (toilet seats in most places)
April 17, 2015 |
When President Obama and Raul Castro exchanged a historic handshake at a Summit of the Americas in Panama last weekend, Pamela Ann Martin watched on TV in Havana. "It was an exhilarating feeling," said the Ambler resident who has been arranging trips to Cuba for business people, academics, and Cuba aficionados for more than a decade and has made 66 trips to the island. "This is what I've devoted my entire life to for the past 16 years. " There is something about Cuba that gets people's juices flowing.