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Havana — Photo: Angel Chevrestt/ZUMA

HAVANA — When Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced the two countries would "normalize" relations between the two countries, most observers were quick to point out that this unexpected move would eventually benefit the Cuban economy by boosting the tourism industry, among other sectors.

And according to Folha de S. Paulo, the announcement could achieve just that — but with a slight twist. A growing number of Brazilians have been visiting the island during their current summer break, before it becomes too "Americanized."


Photo: Gary Coronado/The Palm Beach Post/ZUMA

For them, the embargo that had been imposed on the Communist island makes this place special, and they fear that the rapprochement with Washington will soon change that. "It's amazing not seeing any McDonald's, Starbucks or other American chains," 32-year-old Brazilian Carla Regina Boratto told the newspaper. "It's almost as if the country had been frozen in time."

Another Brazilian tourist, Priscilla Campos, suggests the trend will likely continue until Cuba is no longer Cuba. "Four friends of mine had planned to go to Cancún in Mexico," she says. "But instead, they decided to change their plans to visit the whole island from Varadero to Havana and Santiago de Cuba."

Carlos Pacheco, a 36-year-old lawyer on vacation, predicts change. "When the Americans arrive, Havana as we know it, with its old cars and decaying buildings, will end up losing its charm and will disappear. How much do you want to bet that by the end of the year, there'll be a McDonald's somewhere around here?"

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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