Surprising find in a Cuban newspaper: US election notice

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cuba us reestablishes flgihts orig jpm_00000417

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Story highlights

  • Cuba's Granma newspaper prints an announcement for Americans
  • The piece tells American citizens in Cuba how to vote in US elections

Havana, Cuba (CNN)Cuba's main newspaper is known for running opinion columns by Fidel Castro and optimistic predictions about upcoming sugar harvests.

But a surprising story was on the pages of Granma on Wednesday. The newspaper, which bills itself as "the official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba," published an announcement about US elections and how Americans in Cuba can vote.
    Beneath a headline that says "Information for US citizens that are residents in Cuba," the piece explains how to vote in the US presidential election by sending an absentee ballot to the US Embassy in Havana. The information was provided by the embassy.
    A paragraph on page 4 of a newspaper might not sound like a big deal, but the announcement is striking.
    Here's why:
    -- Until now, voting wasn't possible for US citizens in Cuba, because America's embassy just reopened in 2015 after 54 years of broken relations.
    -- Cubans themselves don't have the ability to vote in multiparty elections.
    -- It's another notable sign of changing times as relations between the two countries thaw.
    No matter who they support, the Americans-in-Cuba vote isn't likely to sway the election. Other than the 50 or so US diplomats stationed here, a handful of journalists, returning Cuban-Americans, some medical students and airplane hijackers left over from the 1960s, there aren't many Americans living on the island -- at least not yet.
    But the November 8 election could have a big impact on Cuba's evolving relationship with the United States.
    Hillary Clinton is the first major presidential candidate to advocate lifting the US embargo on Cuba. Donald Trump has vowed to roll back the improved relations with Cuba, until the island's leaders improve their record on human rights.
    Cuban officials have said the new relationship with the US won't impact the fundamentals of their revolution. But the recent opening to the US has led to several recent major changes on the island:
    Diplomacy: There's now a US Embassy in Havana and a Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC. Cubans are still getting used to seeing the US flag flying over the seafront Malecón.
    Travel: While there is still a travel ban on Americans visiting Cuba as tourists, President Barack Obama has loosened restrictions and for the first time in over 50 years, US airlines have reestablished routes to the island.
    Commerce: American-run hotels are reopening, US cell phone providers are offering roaming service and some US credit cards may soon work in Cuba. A long line of US companies want to help Cuba modernize its ailing, state-run economy.