Cuba

A White House administration official confirms that the United States and Cuba have come to an agreement to formally re-establish diplomatic relations and open embassies in Havana and Washington.

The Obama administration will announce the agreement on Wednesday.

As NPR's Krishnadev Calamur has explained, the U.S. imposed sanctions and then broke off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's communist regime in the early 1960s.

Reinier Valdes, owner of the dance studio La Clave Cubana.
Courtesy of Reinier Valdes

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Reinier Valdes, owner of the dance studio La Clave Cubana, about his effort to bring Cuban dance to Seattle.

President Obama says when it comes to Cuba, "the United States will not be imprisoned by the past."

Obama met for about an hour on Saturday with Cuban President Raul Castro. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two countries' leaders in more than half a century.

When the sit-down finally happened — after months of behind-the-scenes negotiation — even the leaders seemed surprised.

Karel Cruz, principal dancer at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, ended up in Seattle after being rejected by the Cuban National Ballet for being too tall.
Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Angela Sterling

Seattle ballet dancer Karel Cruz remembers exactly how he felt when President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would begin to mend its relations with Cuba.

"It’s one of those things you don't think is ever going to happen," he says. He shakes his head, still a little overwhelmed. "You look to the sun and say, ‘Is this happening right now?’"

Cruz, 36, lives in Seattle now, but he was born in Holguin, Cuba.  His family moved across the island to the town of Pinar del Rio when he was 8-years-old.

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera had a plan to test just how tolerant Cuba had become of dissident voices.

She planned a performance at Havana's Revolution Square for Tuesday afternoon. She would provide a microphone and Cubans were encouraged to speak about their vision for the island.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro spoke to Bruguera on Monday and asked her why she was planning the performance.

David Hyde talks to Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about the announcement the U.S. made to normalize ties with Cuba.

A selection of Cuban cigars.
Flickr Photo/Alex Brown (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with Joe Arundel, general manager of Rain City Cigar in Georgetown, about why he won't be stocking Cuban cigars anytime soon -- and why nobody else in the U.S. will be either. 

Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends.

KUOW Listeners Laud Relaxation Of Cuba Sanctions

Dec 17, 2014
A taxi in Cuba. To American eyes, it's a vintage model, but the picture was taken in 2009.
Flickr Photo/kayugee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

We asked our listeners what they thought of President Barack Obama's plans to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. Our phone rang off the hook, and a lot of Cuban-Americans were excited about eased travel restrictions.