New York’s Mom & Pop Businesses are Being Replaced by BIG Corporations


Hey! Want to grab a bite to eat at the original 2nd Avenue Deli in the East Village?


How about we grab some lunch at Manatus restaurant on Bleecker Street?

Then maybe grab something from Ralph’s Discount City up in TriBeca?

And why not stop by the great home of punk rock CBGB in the East Village, yeah?

Well, you kind of can’t anymore since these notable New York City landmarks are no longer around.

Considered local fixtures in the neighborhoods, familiar and popular mom-and-pop stores, diners, restaurants, and shops are slowly becoming extinct in the evolving city due to staggering rent hikes and a lackluster economy. Unable to withstand the hardship, many of these familiar shops are being replaced by big name corporations like Subway or Dunkin Donunts or banks like Chase and Capital One.


In their photo book Store Front – The Disappearing Face of New York, photographers James T. and Karla L. Murray take readers on a visual tour of some of the familiar and irreplaceable store fronts that line street after street of New York City.

Choosing places that “look like they’ve been around forever” the duo has in a way allowed such locales to exist forever in photographic form. Organized by borough and then subdivided into neighborhoods, the photographic book poses as an encyclopedia of sorts that manages to preserves the now extinct shops that have become replaced by commercial businesses.

“The purpose of the photos in the before and after project is to clearly spell out and provide documentation of not only what storefronts have been lost but also what is often lacking in what replaces them,” said the photographers.

The book depicts the dramatic alteration in the appearance of many familiar local spots in New York City. From 2001 to 2007, the book contains a good decade of how scathing rental prices are forcing out mom-and-pop shops which are being replaced with chain stores belonging to commercial businesses.

The shop-owners frequently acknowledged that they were at the mercy of their landlords and the ever-increasing rents they charged,” and if the shop-owners could not meet the increasing rent, “big rent hikes meant that many small businesses closed to be replaced by chain stores or banks, which could afford the higher rent.

According to the book, Max Fish, a bar located on the Lower East Side is an example of being a victim to rising rent costs. The bar opened in 1989 and its rent was a mere $2,000 a month, however after a series of rent increases and being opened for a good 24 years the bar closed with a reported $16,000 rent cost. The rent was due to increase again if the bar remained opened.


Until you place them side-by-side and really look at the two photos, you cannot get the true sense of loss,” explained the Murrays, discussing how powerful the images taken are when you show what was beside the what is.

The two also add, “the trend we noticed very early on while photographing the original stores was that if the shop-owner did not own the entire building, their business was already in jeopardy.

Mom-and-pop shops are not the only familiar local spots being replaced by commercial businesses. Late last year, 5 Pointz–5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center–was an outdoor graffiti haven considered an art cultural center to many was white-washed—the numerous art pieces that were spray-painted on its wall was marked out with white paint—by the builders owners.


The white-washing came after 5 Pointz owner and supporters lost am ongoing battle to remaining standing. The building is scheduled to be torn down and make way for new condos and business shops in its place.

While the book can be a bit grim showcasing the demise of familiar shops, shops that are either replaced by corporations or gutted to the group, the book also contains some hope.

Among some of the photos taken, the Murrays have included side-by-side photos of old shops being replaced not by large corporations but fellow and new mom-and-pop shops. These images show some hope that not all is being taken over by large commercial businesses but there are still regular folk with businesses of their own trying to make it in this ever changing world.

Heighten Racism of the 2016 Presidential Elections


Initially, when it came to the 2016 Presidential Elections I wanted to forego discussing anything that was going on politically in the country.

Yes, I know that to do nothing means that I am not privy to make any comments when something unsavory results due to my inaction. However, my choosing to be neutral when it comes to either engaging friends in conversations or when it comes to thinking about what to write for LatinTRENDS I wasn’t straying away from the elections because I didn’t know what was going on but I knew what was coming and I wouldn’t be able to stomach it.

When I look at the current contenders battling it out within the United States of America I do not hear the promises being made by Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, or Ted Crus, but what I do hear is a monolith of ignorance, bigotry, and hatred being tossed about so loudly that it makes an air raid siren sound no louder than a miniscule mouse.

I wanted to abstain from talking about Donald Trump and his traveling circus of hatred—also known as his campaign trail to become our 45th President. I wanted to avoid it because it is impossible to remain opinion-free lately when it comes to anything Trump.

However, what once seemed to be an impossibility is so slowly becoming possible: Trump could very well be our next president. And since this may be an actuality, I am breaking my “if you have an opinion don’t write about it,” rule in order to discuss what is really going on within this election season.

This election doesn’t appear to be about politics anymore, in fact it appears solely to be about one very problematic social issue within our society. This election is showing a deep-rooted issue in our society that has been overlooked for far too long and has resurrected a monstrous sentiment from our past: Racism.

Since making his announcement that he will run for president, Trump has been steadily making this country become accustomed to his irrational and racist rhetoric regarding those he views as being opponents against making “America Great Again!.”

The one thing these opponents appear to have in common: they are all non-white.

Trump’s rallies have become a hotbed of racial aggression for those viewed as non-whites thanks to Trumps continued degrading of Latinos, Blacks, and Muslim citizens living in the country. His continued condemning and blaming of non-whites as to being the reason why our country isn’t “great” has resulted in his rallies being attended by white supremacist as well as members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump has even become endorsed by the likes of David Duke who is the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan stating that Trump is the only candidate who is “best of the lot.

The appearance of the racists showing up at Trump’s rallies eerily reminds me of footage taken throughout the 50s & 60s in-which non-white civilians are verbally and physically assaulted by whites around them solely because of the color of their skin. And sadly, recent captured footage only adds to the sickening feeling the above images illicit.

Earlier this month, at two separate Trump rallies young black students were forcibly removed from the rallies. They were yelled at, they were shoved, and some were even physically assaulted after Trump ordered the crowds to remove any potential disruptors. These students weren’t merely thrown out because they appeared to be possible disruptors but were removed by the largely white crowd because they were Black.

The incident became a viral showing a group of men, some reported to being associated with white supremacist organizations, physically shoving and yelling at young woman named Shiya Nwanguma as she was led out of the rally.

Since this incident numerous protests have sprung up—more so than before originally led by Black Lives Matters movement—in order to show that while some are accepting Trump’s message there are a great deal of others who are not.

Last Friday in Chicago, protesters stood outside a Trump rally being held at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion and because of the large presence the Trump rally was cancelled thus leading to a confrontation between Trump supporters and protesters outside. One moment from this event will forever be a part of history occurred when a Trump supporter encountered a protester outside.

In the image seen above, Birgitt Peterson—aged 69—is caught giving the “Heil Hitler” salute which has become a gesture linked to Nazism. Michael Joseph Garza, who appears in the picture, took to his Facebook page to write about the incident which has received its own viral firestorm.

According Garza, he was trying to help Peterson and her husband along with other Trump supporters leave the Pavilion by waving his hand through a clear route made for them. After indicating for Peterson to go, Garza stated that she responded with:

Go? Back in my day, you know what we did—” And then ended the exchange with the Hitler salute.

Now, Peterson has refuted claims that she and her husband or Nazis or White Supremacist—she’s alleges that the gesture was merely her attempt to correct protests who equated Trump to Adolf Hitler by showing them the difference. An attempt she clearly failed in doing.


The fact that he attracts racists and bigots doesn’t appear to bother Trump, in fact it seems to only empower him because as Trump has noted on several occasions those who attend his rallies are either passionate or fed up with the state of the country. And in-response to the aggression his supporters have displayed, well according to Trump that’s the protestors fault. So, while it is easy to blame Trump for the recent racial tensions that is currently unfolding in this country he is not to blame.

I recently saw a meme which stated—to a certain degree that—the racial issue in this country is equivalent to the lights being turned on in an apartment and spotting all the bugs scurrying away because of the light being cast upon them. Basically, the meme is addressing how 1) the issue of race is only a problem for most until a light is shined onto it and we see how disgusting it is because it is right in our faces and 2) if it continues to go unnoticed it will lead to a greater infestation that could possible become far too great to stop.

The racial issues in this country has been on a steady rise; it has been sitting in a boiling pot for a good long while now and it is beginning to boil over to a point that everyone can see just how problematic it is.

The campaigning for the 45th presidency has shined a huge light on how the continued ignorance and lack of addressing this country’s issue regarding race has become more troublesome. If this issue continues to go unchecked, if we do not find a way to address it, and we permit an individual like Trump or a candidate who will not resolve this ongoing issue then the notion that we are all created equal is nothing more than dead, poetic words.

New ’24’ Reboot Series could star a Latino Lead!


Kiefer Sutherland is no longer a part of the planned 24 series, and now with a spot to fill a Latino or African-American could be the new lead in the spy drama 24:Legacy.

According to recent reports, Sutherland—who was the star of and originally made the 9 year series which ran from 2001 to 2010—is no longer returning to the show for its remake so the powers that be at FOX want the role left opened to be filled by an African-American or Latino Actor.

Executives of the developing series have mentioned that they open to the idea of a Latino actor coming on board for the series because they want a lead role to be completely different from the show’s original spy Jack Bauer. Also, the idea of presenting a show with a diverse cast is their initial effort because they want the reboot to feel different with some distinction from the original series.

The pilot will feature an all-new cast of characters and retain the real-time, pulse-pounding, fast-paced format with split screens and complex interweaving storylines, with each episode representing one hour of an eventful day,” said FOX, in a released press statement.

Although casting is still pending and filming has not yet begun, the reboot series is set to follow a military hero named Eric Carter upon his return to the United States. However, Carter’s return home isn’t avoidant of danger since trouble from his former operation has returned home with him. It’s the trouble from his former operation that leads Carter to the Counter Terrorist Unit for both protection and to take up missions to prevent a possible wide terrorist attack in the country.

For the series return, original producers Howard Gordon, Evan Katz and Manny Coto will be taking up the helm of the highly anticipated 24:Legacy.

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miss u and sprint ceo

Originally published in the April 2015 issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine

Pageant Trends

Paulina Vega beautifies the cover of LatinTRENDS this issue. Paulina became the 23rd Miss Universe with originsin Latin America.

Beauty Pageants and Latinas go well together. Latin American beauty queens have been consistently crowned since the Miss Universe pageant began in 1952. In fact, over one-third of the total Miss Universe winners come from the region. Venezuela is especially known for its seven titles, second only to the U.S. who has a total of eight. Puerto Rico follows close behind with five crowns while Mexico, Brazil and now Colombia each have two. Here is the complete list below, ordered chronologically: 1957 Gladys Zender (Peru); 1958 Luz Marina Zuluaga (Colombia); 1962 Norma Beatriz  Nolan (Argentina); 1963 Iêda Maria Vargas (Brazil); 1968 Martha Vasconcellos (Brazil); 1970 Marisol Malaret (Puerto Rico); 1979 Maritza Sayalero (Venezuela); 1981 Irene Sáez (Venezuela); 1985 Deborah Carthy-Deu (Puerto Rico); 1986 Bárbara Palacios Teyde (Venezuela); 1987 Cecilia Bolocco (Chile); 1991 Lupita Jones (Mexico); 1993 DayanaraTorres (Puerto Rico); 1996 Alicia Machado (Venezuela); 2001 Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico); 2002 Justine Pasek (Panama); 2003 AmeliaVega (Dominican Republic); 2006 Zuleyka Rivera (Puerto Rico); 2008Dayana Mendoza (Venezuela); 2009 Stefanía Fernández (Venezuela); 2010 Ximena Navarrete (Mexico); 2013 María Gabriela Isler (Venezuela). Go to page 26 for our exclusive with the newly crowned beauty queen.


Smart Phone Trends

We all have cell phones today—in fact many people have canceled their home phone lines. Remember them? They’re becoming a thing of the past, rapidly. Smartphones have become a cultural phenomenon. Just watch people as they are waiting in line or on the subway. Doesn’t it seem like 80% to 90% of them are checking, typing, sending, watching, or playing on their mobile? It gets worse. Many times we see people participating in mobile activity while they are talking to someone, one on one! They do the same while eating, or worse, during a business meeting…no bueno, stop the madness!

It seems we can’t live without our phones. They are such a part of our lives because they are with us all the time. Technology has enabled us to connect with just about every single aspect of our lives through our smartphones, and it’s just going to get better and better as far as interacting with things, services and people. Verizon Wireless is the largest of the carriers with a whopping 125 million subscribers; following at number two is AT&T with 118 million users. Sprint, with its Bolivian-born entrepreneur Marcelo Claure as new President and CEO, is the 3rd largest carrier with about 55 million subscribers. T-Mobile is trailing right behind them as the fourth largest carrier with about 54 million subscribers. In a recent NY press conference T-Mobile’s hard-charging CEO John Legere said when they finish overtaking Sprint later this year in total number of customers, they are gunning for AT&T.

It will be interesting to see who wins the Sprint/T-Mobile marketshare war and the social media debate between both companies’ respective CEO’s—both fierce competitors. One is fighting to remain at number three and the other to become number three and then some.

Both companies have pros and cons. However, we are happy to see that a Latino has been named CEO of a Fortune 500 company, such as is the case with Sprint and Mr. Claure. However, I’m happy to report that T-Mobile doe shave Latinos in key executive positions. I recently interviewed Gabriel Torres, T-Mobile’s Vice President of Multicultural Marketing.

Gabriel shared with us that 30% of T-Mobile users are Hispanic. There are 27 million small businesses in the United States, out of which 3 million are Hispanic owned; these small businesses employ over 145 million Americans. 99% of these employees work for small businesses that have fewer than 24 employees.

These numbers are impressive, and as I write this, I am reminded of the popular quote, “Small Businesses are the backbone of the American economy.”

In addition to their consumer approach, T-Mobile has ramped up their small-business offers to include clarity in pricing such as $50 for the first line, $30 for the second, with 10 lines available for $160 a month, including unlimited voice, text and one gig of high-speed data. In addition, business users will also get a free domain on GoDaddy and a Microsoft email account hosted by Microsoft Office 365 cloud base for as long as they remain a T-Mobile business customer.

In this issue, I interview the co-founder and CEO of MiTú, YouTube’s largest Hispanic content channel. Checkout page 34 for the story.

Looking ahead, I plan to interview more leaders, visionaries and entrepreneurs to bring you insights, ideas, and content that is informative, entertaining and inspirational.

  • Verizon Wireless is the largest of the carriers with a whopping 125 million subscribers.
  • Following at number two is AT&T with 118 million users.
  • Sprint, with its Bolivian-born entrepreneur, Marcelo Claure as new President and CEO, is the 3rd largest carrier withabout 55 million subscribers.
  • T-Mobile is trailing right behind them as the fourth largest carrier with about 54 million subscribers. In a recent NY press conference T-Mobile’s hard-charging CEO John Legere said when they finish overtaking Sprint later this year in total number of customers, they are gunning for AT&T, which is the second largest carrier.

Zoe Saldaña upset over forgotten Nina Simone Biopic!


Zoe Saldaña is angry and upset that her Nina Simone biopic has yet to hit theaters after being completed nearly three years ago.

According to the 37-year-old actress, the reason no one has seen the controversial biopic is due to mismanagement and a lack of organization that surrounds the finalization of the movie. And Saldaña is not afraid of saying how disappointed she is with those who are a part of the project.

The people behind the project weren’t my cup of tea,” Saldaña said in an recent interview in-which the project was discussed. “The director (Cynthia Mort) was fine, but there was a lot of mismanagement, which is why we’re still here three years later. And I’m still trying to fight with everybody to get the movie finished. Nina deserves better.”

While the movie is in post-production limbo it was not without controversy prior to shooting. When Saldaña was cast as the prominent singer and civil rights activist there was a negative response to the casting. Although Saldaña is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descendant, some felt her casting in the role should have gone to a Black actress who could portray an important figure within the Black community.

However, despite the response to her casting the actress was unyielding to it and went through with the project.

I listened to her voice, to her tone. She was angry—and rightfully so. She was a black woman born ahead of her time. Her soul, her spirit was never able to accept or adapt to the heartbreaks that life was giving her.”

For the part, Saldaña stepped out of the spotlight generated by her part in the Star Trek and Guardian of the Galaxy movie franchises to immerse herself in the project.

I needed to walk her path. As a woman, it wasn’t difficult to empathize with another woman, but I needed to be very isolated,” Saldaña said, describing how important the role was for her. “I moved out of my house for three months. I wasn’t really talking to anybody that I knew. I just needed to be all things Nina. It was so intense, and everything happened really fast.”

Since completing the project, Saldaña discusses how Nina Simone seems to be haunting her.

To this day, I can’t listen to her music. I’ll be able to listen to her and not feel so heartbroken once I either finish this movie or release it, knowing that we did the best we could, or this movie goes away,”

And while Saldaña has expressed anger in the movie’s release, she would rather her film be hidden away just as long as someone does one thing in-regards to the film’s subject.

I pray that somebody tells her story, and they do it amazingly well. And then I’ll just put this to rest. But so far I’m still hanging in there with her. We’re still fighting together to tell it like it is. And that’s the best way to be.”

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Krailes Flores

Krailes Flores

El pelo es el marco de nuestro rostro, esa corona que nos puede hacer lucir bellas y confiadas o tristes e inseguras. Afortunadamente para las que nos somos tan afortunadas de tener una melena larga y abundante existen las extensiones de pelo.

Hoy en día no tienes que ser famosa o una celebridad para lucir como una, las extensiones de pelo no son un trend de moda pasajero, llegaron para quedarse y darnos la libertad de lucir bellas y despampanantes en toda ocasión.

Para conocer más sobre que son las extensiones de pelo y el proceso que envuelve esta especialidad, decidimos irnos hasta El Bronx y visitar al centro especializado en extensiones: Krailes House of Beauty.

Krailes Flores, su propietaria quien a pesar de su evidente juventud ha estado en la industria de la belleza y la aplicación de extensiones por más de 20 años, y es considerada por famosos y celebridades como “La Reina De Las Extensiones”. Esta bella dominicana se ha convertido en la latina más famosa e innovadora en cuanto a extensiones se refiere, recibiendo clientes desde todos los puntos del país y el extranjero, que viajan hasta el Bronx única y exclusivamente para poner su pelo en manos de esta experta.

Con un gusto exquisito por la estética y la belleza, Krailes se embarcó a tiempo completo en la creación de métodos de extensiones donde no se utilizan trenzas o pegamento, y el pelo no sufre ningún tipo de daño eliminado por completo riesgos como la alopecia o la caída del pelo.
Existen ochos métodos, pero el más famoso es Krailes 5, que consiste en colitas flojas que no aprietan. El secreto está en la forma de utilizar los dedos para que las colitas no se sientan, ni se vean una vez se cosen las extensiones con un hilo extremadamente fino.

Metodo - Krailes 5

Metodo – Krailes 5

Que se quiere, como se quiere lucir, textura del pelo y estilo de vida,

Alrededor de 10 a 12 semanas

Es importante usar pelo virgen, de la mejor calidad
-No dormir nunca con el pelo mojado
-Evitar los jacuzzis que tienden a enredar el pelo



Un concepto de membresía, donde se paga $99.00 anuales, obteniendo un 50% de descuento en el costo del pelo y 25% en el costo de aplicación. Este club convierte el proceso financieramente accesible para mujeres que anteriormente se intimidaban con el costo de este tipo de trabajo


Un semanario donde Krailes Flores impartirá clases ensenando por primera vez los secretos de sus métodos a personas interesadas. Clases personalizadas donde se explicaran todos los detalles de estas técnicas revolucionarias.
El 21, 22 y 23 de Septiembre en Vacca Grill and Lounge – 416W 203rd St, NYC, NY info. 646-281-1476



Have you been in a business meeting, when all of sudden your boss ask an important question, and you immediately start to sweat? It is not a surprise that most men, in this situation, raise their hands and are ready to volunteer a response steadily and with confidence. Women, on the other hand, want to know the subject in depth and be 100 percent sure of their answer before they proceed to raise their hands and express their opinions.

If this is true, then it is easy to see why by the time most women say they are ready to take over a new job, or accept a promotion they have, in reality, been ready for years.

So why, when there are so many smart and educated women all over the world, do we continue to hold ourselves back today? Why are women taking on the roles of both the primary breadwinners and primary caregivers to their families, yet don’t have the courage to demand equal pay or pursue higher ranking positions? This inequality, and gender gap, is even wider in Latinas and women of color. We tend to beat ourselves up for both the things we do and the things we don’t do, and for the things we say and the things we don’t have the courage to say.

Here are some of the reasons, and helpful tips to combat this cycle of negative thinking:

1.) The Good Girl Curse: We are raised, especially Latinas, to be good, polite, pretty, and obedient. We were told not to rock the boat, and have this need to be liked, and accepted. Unfortunately, we bring our good girl mentality to the workplace.

Tip: Accept that not everyone is going to like you, and as you move up the ladder the chances are that even less people will like you. Stop being a people pleaser.

2.) The Impostor Syndrome: When you become successful, you begin to have feelings of self-doubt. You feel like an impostor, and you are afraid that people will find out that you are not that smart or not as qualified as you should be for a position.

Tip: Know that you deserve your success, you are smart and no one is waiting for you to fail.

3.) The Weeds of Fear: This is the root of so many problems. Don’t let fear rule your life.

Tip: Chica go for what you want, face your fears, and keep moving forward. Si se Puede!

4.) The “I’m Sorry” Broken Record: Do not apologize! Most men do not apologize, instead they move into problem solving mode right away, sometimes without ever acknowledging that a mistake was made.

Tip: Constant apologies will not resolve the problem, instead look for solutions.

5- Speak Up: Studies confirm that women do not speak up as much as they should, and usually avoid discussing confrontational issues.

Tip: Don’t wait to be given permission to voice your opinion, because in a room full of men, you might never have a chance.

Amigas, stop holding yourself back by believing that you are insufficient, or incapable. This simply is not true!

Don’t downplay your achievements; you have the latent, the vision, and the intelligence. Go for it!

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The Power of Education: Latino Student Graduates on the Rise in the Country


In order to get far in life, education is substantial tool needed in helping you tear down some walls that may keep you back. And currently for Latinos in America, obtaining an education is on the rise and will surely help hundreds of Latinos living in the country tear down some walls that were once deemed impervious.

In the country, the national graduation rate has reached a record high of 81.4%, and the reason for this large number is due to the increasing graduation rate among Latinos and other minority students living in this country.

According to reports released by America’s Promise Alliance (APA), Everyone Graduates Center, and the Alliance for Excellent Education over the last decade an estimated 1.8 million students have graduated from high schools across the country. The increase of high school graduates may be due in part to initiatives aimed at stressing the importance of what an education can provide to students.

Back in 2010, APA launced a campaign known as GradNation which was aimed at decreasing the drop-out rates of students by becoming more active within students’ lives as well.

As the fastest growing population in the country, the graduation rate among Latino students have increased 4.2 % from 2011 to 2013. Meanwhile, the graduation rate of Black American students have risen 3.7%. The increase of the two minority groups have enabled Latinos & Blacks to close in on the graduation rate of their fellow White students.

According to reports, the improvement in graduation rate among Latinos is due to the number of high schools deemed “drop-out factories” within low income areas declining and becoming more effective in furthering the education of Latinos. The estimated number of The Latinos attending schools that were once labeled “drop-out factories” has dropped 15%.

Among Latinos who are considered low income, new information shows that over the past three years the graduation rate for them have increased despite economic hardship. However, while Latino students within low income standings are graduating there is an estimated 15% gap between them and middle & high income standing students.

The increase of graduating Latino students are coming from such states as Alabama, Florida,Georgia,New Mexico, New Jersey and etc.

However, in states like New York, Illinois, Washington, Arizona the graduation rate among Latinos are either declining or stand at a stalemate possibly due to overcrowding or a lack of social programming to aid students. But with organizations like APA, this could change.

According to the group, they have taken on a challenge of raising the national graduation rate average to 90% by the year 2020. In order to attain this goal, the graduating class of 2020 will have to have an estimated 310,000 or more graduated students. And according to their finding, the group is on its way to making that happen within the U.S.

50 Years of Cold Shouldering to End: U.S. & Cuba work on mending Diplomatic Relationship

Barack Obama

It seems like last week’s the Summit of the Americas event proved useful since it mended 50 years of diplomatic recourse between the United States of America and Cuba. Since the event that brings together the leaders of several countries along the Americas together in a forum to discuss issues that is similarly shared by all, there has been a continued push to improve the rekindling relationship between the country and Cuba.

And the next step to bettering the relationship came as President Barack Obama went before Congress and requested that the removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

For the first time in 50 years, the leader of America and the leader of Cuba came together and discussed bettering the relationship between the two countries at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City held last weekend. One of the issues discussed between President Obama and Raul Castro, the President of Cuba, was the matter of Cuba being placed on the United States Department of State’s list of countries that allegedly have provided support for groups or acts in incidents that are deemed international terrorism. Once on this list, the country faces strict unilateral sanctions that may make international relationships burdensome with other nations in matters of trade and so on.

Cuba was added back to the list in 1982 due to the country allegedly having ties to guerilla groups by providing support, arms, and safe havens to these groups that engage in terroristic operations. However, since then it has been deemed the country now meets requirements to be removed from the list.

According to President Obama, Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period,” and has gone on to tell lawmakers in Congress that he assures that Cuba “will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.

While the Summit may have brought the U.S. and Cuba together in a face-to-face discussion, talks of mending the relationship between the two countries began back in December when President Obama announced plans to normalize the relationship between the two nations and permit travel and cultural exchanges between the two. Something that has been talked about in the past, but now seems to be actually set in motion.

We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria” said White House Spokesman Josh Earnest on the issue of furthering the continued relationship with Cuba.

Prior to President Obama’s request of removing Cuba from the list, Cuba has pushed for the removal from the list as well. According to the country, Cuba’s inclusion on the list has damaged the country’s attempts at economic development something that is believable considering the sanctions that comes with being placed on the list. And if Obama’s request is accepted the Cuban government will be able to attract foreign investment from no only the U.S. but other countries too. Another aspect of Cuba being removed from the list could lead to the possible opening of embassies in both countries.

While there are pros to removing Cuba from the list, there are sure to be cons from those who do not support the President in his decision to request that Cuba is removed. So far the mere talk of removing Cuba has garnered some discussion on President Obama’s decision being a bad one. For now, a the President’s decision is just a request and will be so until Congress decides on whether or not Cuba can be removed from the list and our relationship with country can be furthered as opposed to being pushed back.

Summits of the 7 Americas: U.S. & Latin American Heads of Government & State come together to discuss important issues


Every three years an event is held known as the The Summits of the Americas where the Heads of State and Government from across the Western Hemisphere of the world gather together within an institutionalized setting in order to discuss and define an agenda that aims to address some of the urgent challenges and inspire positive change within.

This year, in its 7th year, the Summits will be held in Panama City, Panama on April 10th & 11th. The central theme of this year’s gathering will be “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas” and will largely focus on the co-participation of citizens and its government when it comes to such issues like education, health, energy, the environment, and so on.

The 7th Summit will be attended by President Barack Obama of the United States of America along with 34 other heads of state from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean with the sole purpose of the countries trying to jointly tackle urgent challenges their area of the world needs to tackle.

The aim of the Summits is akin to a brainstorming session between the area’s high-tiered political figures. The Summit strives to connect leaders who share similar values, express their view on common policy issues, and then commit bringing forth actions at both the national and regional level.

In the past summits, there were certain topics discussed which President Obama could not talk on due to the country and its relation to them. Those topics were Cuba and Iran. However, with the recent nuclear deal with Iran and the growing relationship between the U.S and Cuba discussion that involves these two countries may be easier to talk about considering the country’s shift in-regards to them.

According to the Summits site, the meeting focuses on the following:

Growth, employment, poverty, environmental sustainability, energy security, discrimination and crime are all issues that can be resolved with the democratic adoption and implementation of effective and efficient public policies. The Summit Process is looking for a multidimensional way to strengthen democracy and governance, helping to reduce poverty and increase opportunities in the Americas.

One key component aside from the leaders who attend the Summit, is the very existence of Democracy itself.

Democracy has always been a central subject in the Summits despite the heterogeneity of Summit themes. It has been addressed according to the needs and concerns of the Member States, including the construction of a democratic hemispheric community, the preservation and strengthening of the democratic system, good governance, and the inter-relationship between democracy and socio-economic issues.

With the Summit largely consisting of members from the Latin American world, it will be interesting to see what key topics are addressed at this year’s meeting especially when it comes to issues related towards the U.S. The large issues in the U.S. these days are immigration and discrimination against people of a non-white background. However, the former is far more debated among in this country than the latter and continues to go unaddressed despite executive actions and discussion of reform.

Overall, the general formation of a forum like the Summits where it consists of leaders who are meant to serve and practice democracy is not enabling in its growth but also permits to the hopeful outcome that it may largely benefit society that practices it.