International Relations

For Rene, Miami has been a lonely place since his wife died eight years ago.

Although the 78-year-old from Guantánamo, Cuba, lives with his daughter and granddaughter, he’s alone most of his time. So in July, he asked for Cuban government permission to return.

“The loneliness kills me,” said Rene. “The end of the road for old people here is an institution because the family cannot take care of us,” he said. “And that would be the worst that can happen to me.”


This Sunday, Cuba will hold what passes for parliamentary elections there. Voters will ratify National Assembly candidates pre-selected by the ruling Communist Party. On April 19 the Assembly will elect one of its own as President of the country.

It’s a neat little system that’s even less democratic than the U.S. Electoral College.

Venezuela closed its consulate in Miami six years ago. Last week President Nicolás Maduro issued an order to open it again. But there’s one big problem: he probably can’t.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez closed the Miami consulate in 2012, even though South Florida is home to the largest Venezuela community in the U.S. He did so because almost all those expats opposed his socialist revolution.

The U.S. State Department has changed its travel alert system and now recommends American citizens “reconsider” visiting Cuba. It had previously issued a warning advising Americans not to travel to the island.

“As we were putting all this together, we did a very careful assessment. We talked to all of our experts, and this is where we came out on Cuba,” Michelle Bernier-Toth, acting deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizen Services, said in a teleconference on Wednesday.


In February 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two small, unarmed civilian airplanes piloted by members of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue – four of whom were killed.

Cuba argued the Brothers aircraft had violated Cuban airspace. But a U.N. investigation ruled otherwise, and the shootdowns were widely condemned as an unreasonably brutal act.