Today in History for February 15th

Highlights of this day in history: The U.S. battleship Maine explodes in Havana harbor, bringing America closer to war with Spain; The Soviet Union’s last troops leave Afghanistan; Astronomer Galileo and suffragist Susan B. Anthony born. (Feb. 15)

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Not even Havana Club rum is safe from the US grip on Cuba | AFP

US sanctions against Cuba have made life tough for producers of the island’s signature alcoholic drink, rum, but despite running a gauntl et of obstacles, they’re still managing to thrive.

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Havana’s 500th anniversary: Fisherman Roberto Molina | AFP

As Havana turns 500 years old, AFPTV speaks to Cubans who reflect on how the capital has impacted their lives. Fisherman Roberto Molina leaves his house every day, no matter the weather. For him, it doesn’t matter if the capital is good or bad because it’s his home.

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Havana at 500: a fisherman’s tale | AFP

At 69, Roberto Molina has spent nearly half his life fishing at Havana’s Malecon. His face weather-beaten, walking steadily down to the sea every day from his home just a few hundred meters away.

“People now fish out of necessity,” he says. Every day, hundreds of fishermen like Molina descend towards Havana’s waterfront to catch what they can with hook and line and to either eat or sell to private restaurants.

#Havana #Havana500 #Cuba

Havana at 500: a doctor for the people | AFP

Doctor Alina Gonzalez, 57, looks after some of Cuba’s 2,000 centenarians. The island’s 11.2 million people have an average life expectancy of 79.5 years — comparable to that of rich nations. Since 1962, a US embargo has made daily life in Cuba hard, even for doctors like herself. Complications have increased in recent months after the US tightened trade restrictions further.

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Havana at 500: a silver fairy in Old Havana

Beatriz Estevez, 29, gave up her law studies and turned to the arts. The streets of Old Havana are now her everyday stage where she performs as a living statue. Her character the ‘silver fairy’ has become an almost permanent fixture there. For those like Beatriz who work in the tourism sector in Cuba, opportunities are rife. On average, self-employed Cubans can make up four times as much as state employees.

#Havana500 #Havana #Cuba

Havana’s 500th anniversary: Doctor Alina Gonzalez | AFP

As Havana turns 500 years old, AFPTV speaks to Cubans who reflect on how the capital has impacted their lives. German-born doctor Alina Gonzalez walks more than two kilometres daily to get to work. Even if she can think of “a million things to improve”, she loves the island and its capital and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Havana at 500: riding in a 1959 Chevy

Yosbel Sosa, 33, drives what he calls a “time machine” — a black Chevrolet Impala with red and white seats, dating back to 1959, the year of late leader Fidel Castro’s revolution.

In it, he drives tourists around the city’s historic sites: the restored dome of the Capitol, the colonial mansions, Art Deco buildings, Revolution Square and the picturesque Malecon seafront promenade.

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Havana at 500: a city through the eyes of four ‘habaneros’

Half a millennium since its founding by Spanish colonists, the Cuban capital Havana has become a byword for Latin American romance and revolutionary nostalgia.

As the city celebrate its 500th anniversary, AFP interviewed four Havana residents, whose lives reflect its history and its recent changes.

#Havana #Havana500 #Habana500

Havana’s 500th anniversary: Actress Beatriz Estevez | AFP

As Havana turns 500 years old, AFPTV speaks to Cubans who reflect on how the capital has impacted their lives. Once in a while actress Beatriz Estevez turns into a statue of a fairy in the streets of the capital, as she believes “we are more than what is typically known about Cuba”.

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AP Top Stories November 12 P

Here’s the latest for Tuesday, November 12th: Mulvaney to not sue over House impeachment proceedings; Ousted Bolivian president arrives in Mexico; Former President Carter recovers after brain surgery; Welcoming ceremony for Spanish Royals in Havana.

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Spanish royals visit Havana for 500th anniversary celebrations | AFP

Spain’s King Felipe VI begins an unprecedented visit to Cuba to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the capital Havana at a time of increased tensions between the island nation and the United States. IMAGES

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Electric motorcycles help Cuba ride out a fuel shortage | AFP

The vintage urban panorama of Havana is changing with “almendrones” – those old and classic cars – making way for “motorinas”, electric motorcycles. Since customs authorized their import in 2013, the eco-friendly bikes have become an important part of Cuba’s urban transportation, even more so now as Cuba is feeling the effects of an acute fuel shortage that emerged from pressure and fines imposed by Washington on tankers moving oil from Venezuela.

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Get Outta Here! Podcast: Visiting Cuba Today

It is the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, and despite White House moves to keep U.S. residents from going, it’s still legal for Americans to visit Cuba, and, reports Michael Weissenstein, the Associated Press news director for the Caribbean, well worth the effort.

On #MyFavoriteTrip: a tourist’s reminiscence about a Cuba tour.

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France trains Cuban dogs in the art of sniffing cash | AFP

French dog training experts teach Cuban Springer-Spaniels how to detect money hidden in vehicles in downtown Havana as the Caribbean country reinforces its fight against money laundering, often associated with drug trafficking.

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Russian navy ship arrives in Cuba in midst of tensions with US | AFP

A Russian navy vessel, led by the ultramodern frigate Admiral Gorshkov, docks at Havana port at a time of heightened tensions between the island and the United States. IMAGES

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Lack of US cruises leaves Havana empty | AFP

The United States government recently ordered a halt to American cruise ship stopovers in Cuba, affecting the island’s tourism industry and its economy.

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Cuba commemorates the French artist who painted Havana’s birth

As Cuba celebrates its 500th anniversary this year, Havana commemorates a French-artist, who is largely unknown in his native France, who immortalized the birth of Havana in his painting of the “First Mass”. Considered a father of Cuban art culture, Jean-Baptiste Vermay also founded the first art school on the island.

Havana sidewalk transforms into art gallery for XIII Biennal

More than a kilometer of a coastal sidewalk in Havana is turned into an art gallery as part of the city’s XIII Biennal arts event, which is expected to bring together some 500 Cuban artists and 300 more from around the world. The project named ‘Behind the Wall,’ comprising works of more than 60 artists, is one exhibit in the month-long event.

Female-Owned Cigar Company Celebrates Cuban Women

Twin sisters Yvette and Yvonne started their own brand of cigars, called Tres Lindas Cubanas. Since then, they’re often the only Afro-Cuban women in a room full of men. Their three cigar blends pay homage to Cuban women. La Clarita. La Mulata. And La Negrita — all Spanish words used to describe skin tones of women.

They sell their blends on their website, shipping across the country to all 50 states, and in local shops. But it all started with an investment of $500. As first-generation Americans, it’s important for them to stay connected to their roots. They lead trips to Havana and take people through plantations and factories of Cuban cigars.

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Female-Owned Cigar Company Celebrates Cuban Women