September 11th, 2013
02:49 AM ET

Diana Nyad responds to questions over swim

After dodging sharks and jellyfish during her swim from Cuba to Florida, Diana Nyad is now dealing with a different challenge: tough questions from her fellow marathon swimmers about the legitimacy of her achievement.

In the days since Nyad walked out of the water last week at Key West after swimming 110 miles, a stream of questions has come at her.

Could her speed have nearly doubled at one point? Did any of her team members touch her or support her? How could she have gone for hours without food or water?

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Filed under: Cuba • Florida • Swimming • U.S.
July 17th, 2013
09:04 AM ET

Cuba: It's our weapons on N.K. ship

It was a mystery that Panama's president said his country was struggling to solve.

What was the massive military equipment hidden under hundreds of thousands of sacks of brown sugar on a North Korean boat? Where did it come from? And where was it going before investigators seized the vessel near the Panama Canal?

Hours after Panama said it would ask U.S. and British officials for help solving the puzzle, Cuba gave an answer Tuesday night.

In addition to 10,000 tons of sugar, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said, the shipment contained "240 metric tons of obsolete defensive weapons" sent to North Korea "to be repaired and returned to Cuba."


Filed under: Cuba • North Korea • Panama
April 11th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

No bond yet for parents who took kids to Cuba

The couple accused of abducting their sons and sailing to Cuba will remain jailed without bond through the weekend, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.

The judge also appointed a public defender to represent Josh and Sharyn Hakken after they said they wouldn't be able to pay for a lawyer on their own.

They will return to court Monday for a pretrial detention hearing, the judge ruled.

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Filed under: Crime • Cuba • Florida
Father allegedly snatches boys, flees to Cuba
Cole, left, and Chase Hakken were allegedly abducted last week from their grandmother's Florida home.
April 9th, 2013
05:42 PM ET

Father allegedly snatches boys, flees to Cuba

The Cuban government said Tuesday it plans to hand over members of the Hakken family to U.S. authorities, shortly after a CNN reporter in Havana spotted the man who allegedly snatched his two sons from their grandmother's Florida home.

Josh Hakken confirmed his identity when approached at the Hemingway Marina in Havana, but he didn't say more. The two boys are OK, said a woman matching the description of his wife, and she left it at that.

The couple lost custody of their children last year. Last week, they allegedly took the children in Tampa and headed toward Cuba.

Venezuela president's health 'delicate'
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, who is fighting cancer, now has an infection, an official says.
March 4th, 2013
09:49 PM ET

Venezuela president's health 'delicate'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's condition has worsened, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said late Monday.

Villegas reported Chavez is battling a new and "severe" infection and that his overall state remains "delicate."

The president, who announced his cancer diagnosis in 2011, spent more than two months in treatment in Cuba and has suffered respiratory insufficiency.

The government has never specified what kind of cancer Chavez has.

Last Friday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that Chavez is "fighting for his life." The president began chemotherapy after his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba in December, and he is continuing the "intense" treatment at a military hospital in Caracas, according to Maduro.


Filed under: Cuba • Venezuela
Cuba's Raul Castro to exit government in 2018
Raul Castro succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel, as Cuba's president.
February 24th, 2013
07:30 PM ET

Cuba's Raul Castro to exit government in 2018

Cuban President Raul Castro said Sunday that he would step down from power in 2018, when his second term as president is set to end.

"I would like to make clear ... this will be my last term," he said during a televised speech.

The announcement came shortly after the country's National Assembly re-elected Castro to a second five-year term and tapped Miguel Diaz Canel to be first vice president.

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Filed under: Cuba
Spanish newspaper prints, retracts fake photo of ailing Hugo Chavez
Venezuelan Minister of Comunication Ernesto Villegas speaks at the news conference in Caracas on Thursday.
January 24th, 2013
08:09 PM ET

Spanish newspaper prints, retracts fake photo of ailing Hugo Chavez

Early editions of Spain's leading newspaper Thursday displayed a large front-page photo claiming to be an "unprecedented" and "exclusive" look at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's medical treatment in Cuba.

But the intubated man lying in a hospital bed shown in the photo wasn't Chavez, the newspaper soon discovered, and began backtracking.

El Pais took down the photo, which was on the newspaper's website for about 30 minutes, and also recalled the early editions of its newspaper from newsstands.


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Filed under: Cuba • Hugo Chavez • Spain • Venezuela
December 10th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Venezuela's Chavez arrives in Cuba for cancer surgery

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived Monday in Cuba for surgery just days after saying his cancer had returned.

State-run VTV showed Chavez embracing Vice President Nicolas Maduro and other top Venezuelan officials before his plane took off early Monday.

On Saturday, Chavez announced that his cancer had returned and said he wanted Maduro to replace him if "something were to happen that would incapacitate me."

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Filed under: Cuba • Venezuela
Hurricane coming, island residents warned; U.S. could be next
Tropical Storm Sandy is expected to be a hurricane by Wednesday morning.
October 23rd, 2012
01:55 PM ET

Hurricane coming, island residents warned; U.S. could be next

Millions of people in the Caribbean are being warned to get ready for a hurricane that's expected to strike tomorrow, bringing destructive waves and life-threatening mudslides.


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Filed under: Bahamas • Cuba • Florida • Hurricanes • Jamaica • Tropical weather • U.S. • Weather
October 22nd, 2012
04:58 AM ET

Castro scoffs at death rumors: 'I don't even remember what a headache is'

Cuba has stepped up efforts to douse speculation over the health of its former leader Fidel Castro by publishing an article under his name in state-run media in which he scoffs at recent rumors and those who circulated them.

The article, published on the official website Cubadebate early Monday, is accompanied by photos of Castro, 86, walking with a cane in a garden and looking at a copy of Granma, the state-run newspaper.

"I don't even remember what a headache is," Castro writes in the article, saying the photos are "proof of what liars" those responsible for the rumors are.

The article comes after a former Venezuelan vice president said Sunday that Castro was "doing very well" and showed reporters a snapshot of the former Cuban leader that he said was taken the day before.

Speculation has surged over Castro's health in recent weeks. He has not been seen publicly since March, when he met with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's visit to Cuba.

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Filed under: Cuba • Fidel Castro • Venezuela
October 1st, 2012
07:41 AM ET

Monday's live events

President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney hold their first debate on Wednesday from the campus of the University of Denver.  Watch Live for all the latest coverage from the election.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - UN General Assembly - It's the final day of general debate at the United Nations General Assembly today.  We expect to hear from Syria, Cuba and North Korea during the session.


Filed under: Cuba • Elections • North Korea • On today • Politics • Syria • United Nations • World
September 10th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Detainee dies at Guantanamo Bay

A detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died over the weekend, U.S. Southern Command announced Monday.

The detainee was found unresponsive Saturday afternoon during a routine check, Southern Command said in a news release.

Medical personnel were summoned and provided emergency treatment before taking the detainee to Naval Hospital Guantanamo.

"After extensive lifesaving measures had been performed, the detainee was pronounced dead by a physician," the Southern Command statement said.

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Filed under: Cuba • Guantanamo • U.S.
September 10th, 2012
12:57 AM ET

Millions plunged into darkness as power goes out in Havana, other parts of Cuba

Cubans are used to the mundane inconvenience of brief, localized power outages that regularly hit the country's aging electricity grid, but the large blackout that plunged the western part of the Caribbean island into darkness Sunday night was unusual.

Power remained down early Monday in the capital, Havana. The city's more than 2 million residents were without electricity, except for those at hospitals and other places with generators, according to a government spokesman, who was not identified per government policy.

Residents elsewhere in the socialist-ruled nation - including in Ciego de Avila in central Cuba - also said they didn't have any power, except for a few pockets of light.

"Western Cuba is without power," a pro-government blogger known as Yohandry Fontana tweeted.

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Filed under: Cuba • Energy • Latin America
August 21st, 2012
07:59 AM ET

Nyad ends attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida

Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad's latest attempt to swim across the Straits of Florida ended Tuesday morning after severe jellyfish stings and a lightning storm put her off course, a spokesman said.

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Filed under: Cuba • Florida • Sports • Swimming
July 1st, 2012
03:22 AM ET

Swimmer abandons bid to swim from Cuba to U.S. unassisted

A 49-year-old grandmother who wanted to become the first person to swim 103 miles from Cuba to the Florida Keys unassisted ended her bid early Sunday morning when a strong current in the shark-infested waters made it "impossible" for her to continue, her team said.

Penny Palfrey, an Australian-British endurance swimmer, braved jellyfish stings and the scorching sun but kept swimming since taking to the water Friday morning.

Had she been able to keep up her pace, she would have come ashore on the Florida Keys on Sunday afternoon.

But at 2 a.m. Sunday, her team said in a Facebook post that the attempt was halted.

"Penny Palfrey had to be pulled out of the water, after swimming for more than 40 hours, at approximately midnight tonight due to a strong southeast current that made it impossible for her to continue her swim," the post said. "Penny is presently on her escort boat being taken care off by her crew."

The note didn't say how far she had ultimately swum.

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Filed under: Cuba • U.S. • World
April 10th, 2012
02:04 PM ET

Overheard on Ozzie Guillen's remarks about Castro stir buzz, backlash

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Readers can't stop talking about Ozzie Guillen's remarks praising Cuba's Fidel Castro. The Miami Marlins suspended Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for what he said.

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

Those who have spoken out seemed to be of two camps: Those who think reaction to gaffes is overblown and Americans' right to free speech is increasingly in danger, and those who believe Guillen should not expect to be able to say whatever he wants without consequences.

godsturn: "Don't we have free speech in this country?"

bill: "Sure we do, but even though he may not face civil or criminal prosecution for his supidity for sharing his comments with the rest of America, he will be tried in the court of public opinion. And the public has a right to be angry at his comments and to act against the Marlins for employing this fool. The First Amendment protects your right to say it, but that doesn't mean that you should or that the greater public is going to support or agree with you."

This commenter said they don't believe that a person's comments should have to do with game play.

zma1013: "What the hell does a Castro comment have to do with baseball?? Why is this guy sitting out five games for something that has nothing to do with baseball? I don't care if he said that Hitler was a nice guy, that doesn't relate to baseball at all or his job managing the team at all."

But for some, Miami's Cuban cultural influences should have been Guillen's red flag. FULL POST

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Filed under: Baseball • Cuba • Fidel Castro • Florida • Overheard on • Sports • U.S.
April 10th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for recent comments praising Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Guillen sparked a firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected  Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

Guillen apologized during a press conference Tuesday, first speaking in Spanish, saying that he had "betrayed a Latin community" and that he was speaking to "ask for forgiveness with my heart in my hand."

But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing."

In response to questions in English on Tuesday, Guillen said he was "very stupid" to make comments outside of baseball.

"Politics has nothing to do with sports," Guillen said.

"This is the biggest mistake so far in my life," he said.


April 9th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Ozzie Guillen to fly home to Miami to address Fidel Castro backlash

Ozzie Guillen has a knack for controversial statements and it's easy to treat his bombast as Ozzie being Ozzie, but his latest words on his respect for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro aren't going away - not in Miami.

Guillen, who took over the Miami Marlins this season after eight years with the Chicago White Sox, announced he was flying back to Miami after the Phillies game tonight to hold a press conference about the remarks, according to The Miami Herald.

“I was planning to do something Friday, but (Tuesday) we have the day off and I want to make everything clear so people can talk to me face-to-face,” Guillen told the paper. “They can ask me whatever questions they want, and the sooner the better for the people, for the ball-club and for me. I want to tell people what is going on in my mind and what I believe.”

He said he hasn't been able to sleep for three days because of the controversy and he wanted to speak to the media and people of Miami in person, rather than via a statement.

“I want the people there,” Guillen said. “I feel embarrassed. ... Only my wife knows how bad it’s been last few days. I feel very guilty, sad and embarrassed. Anyone who wants to be there, feel free. I want the Cuban people to understand what I’m going to say because everything I’m going to say is true.”

Guillen sparked the firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.


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Filed under: Baseball • Cuba • Fidel Castro • Florida • Protest • Sports • U.S. • World
March 27th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

Pope's Havana visit raises questions of whom he'll meet

Wrapping up his visit to Santiago de Cuba and bound for Havana, Pope Benedict XVI has sparked widespread speculation that he will meet with the island's former President Fidel Castro.

Church officials say Benedict is scheduled to meet again with President Raul Castro, along with his family. The meeting could include Raul Castro's famous older brother, who stepped down from power in 2006 after battling illness, though it is not clear if that will occur.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also arrived on the island over the weekend, reported by Cuban state television to be in Cuba for radiation treatment for cancer.

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Filed under: Cuba
February 4th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

Fidel Castro unveils 1,000-page memoir

Fidel Castro has released a previously unannounced two-volume memoir of his life, Cuban state-run media reported Saturday.

In a six-hour presentation Friday, the leader of the Cuban Revolution and former president was jovial as he spoke about the 1,000-page work, the Granma newspaper reported.

Castro, 85, spoke together with a panel of cultural and literary officials at the unveiling of the books.

"They are going to talk to you about two books that you had no idea about," Castro said, according to Granma.

The two volumes, titled "Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrilla of Time," is based on conversations with the writer and journalist Katiuska Blanco.

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Filed under: Cuba • Fidel Castro
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