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0000017b-35e5-df5e-a97b-35edaf910000Interest in Cuba has surged since the Obama administration’s announcement of a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations. Opportunities may exist to build trade with the communist island nation, with exports of both manufactured and agricultural goods. And “I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba,” is a refrain that may help spur tourism between Michigan and the “Pearl of the Antilles.” Michigan Radio has two journalists in Cuba to tell some of the stories of Michigan’s connections to the Caribbean nation.

Photo gallery: Sights and scenes of PURE CUBA

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton and I were in Havana to cover the connections between Cuba and Michigan and opportunities for the future.

The Michigan Agribusiness Association has been wooing Cuban officials for years now, hoping to sell Michigan-grown produce in a new market.  

Cuba also sees the U.S. as a potential new market. But there are still many obstacles standing in the way of increased agricultural trade. One of them is the low productivity on the typical Cuban small farm.

Another story we've been following is that Cuba has long offered free medical training for a select number of Americans who agree to work in high-poverty areas in the U.S. once they graduate. We met one such American, Samantha Moore of Detroit, who is in her final year of medical school.

Then, Michigan State University’s medical school made its first trip to show medical students how Cuba’s health system – deeply stressed as it is – manages to keep the Cuban people as healthy as Americans, who spend much more on health care. 

And finally, a Lansing-based firm with decades of experience in renovating historic buildings is helping Cubans construct its first-ever archive laboratory on the site of Ernest Hemingway’s Havana home, which is now a museum. 

Click and scroll through the photos above to get a glimpse of our trip, including photos of historic buildings, people, landscapes, cars, and billboards. 

And you can listen to, read and follow all of our Pure Cuba stories here


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of Stateside.
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