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The Town In Cuba Built By Mr. Hershey – Yes That Hershey

hershey bcuba sign

Photo: havanatimes.org

HERSHEY, Cuba — Along the coastal highway 30 miles east of Havana, the road signs point to a turnoff for Camilo Cienfuegos City. It doesn’t exist. At least not by that name.

“AIR-shee” is what everyone still calls it. Hershey. That much remains.

Most of the rest of the model town founded by U.S. chocolate tycoon Milton S. Hershey in 1916 is in a state of heartbreaking ruin. The looming sugar mill, once among the world’s most advanced, is a gutted, ghostly hulk. Its rusting machinery spills from the wreckage as if blasted by a bomb or kicked apart by a giant.

Up and down Hershey’s grid of neatly laid residential streets, many of the original company-built houses remain, with clapboard siding and some of the only screened-in front porches anywhere in Cuba. The old company hotel and several of the bigger, stately flagstone homes, where the American…

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Hillary Clinton’s Gritty Ambassador To Labor, Latinos, And Capitol Hill

Amanda Renteria

Amanda Renteria

At the gym behind Our Lady Queen of the Americas Church in Washington, D.C., there is a regular 6 a.m. basketball game. Former felons, brought in by a nonprofit, play with a revolving set of people like economist Ike Brannon (worked for John McCain), Reggie Love (Obama’s former body man), and a secret service agent — real athletes. 
For a long time, there was another regular player: Amanda Renteria, now the political director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. A basketball walk-on at Stanford (and a varsity athlete in two other sports), Renteria developed a reputation over eight years of 6 a.m. games. “If someone gives a really hard foul, that’s kind of intentional, we still refer to it as ‘the Renteria,’” said Bryan Weaver, who works with at-risk individuals and brings the former felons in his nonprofit program to the game, and is also married to Democratic strategist MariaContinue Reading

How Much Do We Know About Cuba’s Economy?

Cuba;s GDP slows

Two-thirds of Americans favor an end to the decades-long U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a January Pew Research Center study found, and the two nations reportedly are making progress on re-establishing diplomatic relations. As the communist government continues to slowly reform Cuba’s economy, American businesses – from airlines to law firms – are exploring commercial opportunities on the island nation. But even if the embargo were to be lifted, it’s not clear just what sort of Cuban economy those businesses would find.

Getting a handle on even basic information about Cuba’s economy is difficult, for a number of reasons. The government still dominates economic activity on the island, both directly and through heavily subsidized state-owned enterprises. National statistics are not always complete or reliable. And Cuba’s system of two parallel currencies – one peso for everyday transactions among ordinary Cubans, and a “convertible peso” for the tourism industry, foreign …

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