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CafTea: Where Coffee and Tea Meet in Puerto Rico

CafTea: Where Coffee and Tea Meet in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s historic colonial Old San Juan offers numerous beverage experiences: Mojito-making at Airenumo, rum tasting at the Don Q Rum Museum, and touring the Old Harbor Brewery. While all worthwhile, my most fascinating discovery when exploring this area was a Puerto Rico coffee shop called PR Tea Co., as the company is the creator of a clever beverage combining of coffee and tea in one cup.

One Man’s Big Dream

PR Tea Co. was born on Aug. 28, 2009, with $140 in loose leaf tea. Their major issue in the beginning was getting investors to back the idea, as most didn’t believe tea was something Puerto Ricans would be interested in, especially with such a rich local coffee culture.

"At that point I knew, 'on this fight I’m all alone and against everybody,'" explains Ricardo Torres, the founder of PR Tea Co. "Deep inside, I knew they where wrong. PR Tea Co. is not my grandmother’s tea. This is gourmet tea. Plus, I wasn’t going to give up that easily."

Then one day Torres received a sign. He was reading the newspaper and saw an advertisement for a business plan competition, with the prize being a commercial building. Despite having no experience creating business plans, Torres knew he would win that competition. And, on the same day his daughter, Camila, was born, he received a call from the local bank saying he had won the contest. While PR Tea Co. would need much more help to get off the ground, this was a big start.

"We used recycled wood, bought used equipment at auctions, and even rented a coffee machine," says Torres. "Money was tight, so I had to do all the wood work by myself. I didn’t know anything about woodworking so I used Google to teach me. The same thing with the website and the graphic design. What really helped me through was thinking positive, despite the doubts of others."

The Birth of CafTea

After many bumps along the way, PR Tea Co. finally came to fruition, as did the innovative CafTea product. While most Puerto Ricans drink coffee, Torres was a very hyper child and his mother would give him tea to calm him down. This upbringing led him to want to bridge the gap between coffee and tea drinkers and create something that could appeal to both camps. Because of market limitations Torres believed he would need the drink to be more of a coffee beverage, with a small tea influence; however, after a conversation with a friend, a former Miss Universe of Aruba, she gave him the answer he’d been looking for.

"Why you don’t make the tea and coffee blends you are always talking about?" she stated, simply but surely.

And there, after a short conversation, CafTea was born.

The innovative caffeine fix is an artisanal hot beverage combining the health benefits of tea with the warm flavors of 100 percent Arabica coffee and adds natural hand-milled spices. As with all of the company’s beverages, no artificial flavors are added and only the finest ingredients are used. When I visit, Torres gives me a tour of the factory, which is really a small kitchen with a printer and box-cutting machine. Afterward, he sits me down for a tasting of sweet and frothy Coconut Truffle CafTea.

The drink is made using a drip cup, where a biodigradable bag of CafTea is placed over a cup and water is slowly poured on top to allow the flavors to drip into the cup without any beans or grinds. Moreover, whole-leaf tea is placed in a tea strainer with hot water poured over for a similar effect. In the Coconut Truffle CafTea in particular, rich black tea is blended with cocoa beans, toasted coconut, organic honeybush and 100 percent Puerto Rican Arabica coffee for a decadent beverage. To enhance the experience, the barista creates artwork in the frothy top, with smiling faces, flowers, or a message reading "Enjoy!".

While it’s clear you get the health benefits of the tea and the stimulation of the coffee, another reason to enjoy CafTea is, while it contains enough caffeine to wake you up when you’re lacking energy, it has 33 percent less caffeine than regular coffee. This means you’re less likely to get the jitters.

A Drink with Meaning

If you purchase your CafTea for home use, you’ll even get it in sustainable packaging made with locally sourced materials. Boxes are made with recycled paper and eco-friendly ink using a machine that cuts designs and creates boxes. For Torres, discovering this machine has meant everything to his green business plan.

"Every time I hear the cla cla cla of that machine cutting the paper it’s like hearing a symphony," he beams. "With the machine I was able to get rid of cans, stand up pouches and expensive label printers. Not to mention no more nightmares trying to correctly paste labels on pouches!"

I look closely at the packaging of one of the CafTea boxes, noticing the logo image is of El Coqui, a frog that is the official mascot of Puerto Rico, and El Morro, a fort at the entrance of San Juan Harbor.

"El Morro is my favorite place to meditate. One of the reasons I moved to Old San Juan was to be close to it," says Torres, as he explains the inspiration for the logo. "'El Coqui dorado' has its own meaning. When I created my first hydroponic coffee machine I found out after a few days a coqui dorado frog was living on it. They are very rare and were once believed to be extinct. So I added the coqui while he was meditating in El Morro as the main art of the package. Everything has a meaning in my package and product."

As I’m sipping my warm CafTea, a woman begins singing. I can’t fully understand what she’s saying as the words are in Spanish, however, I’m still entranced by the sound. As part of PR Tea Co’s mission to provide guests with a memorable experience, live entertainment is provided on certain days of the week. Not only am I getting a taste of a gourmet beverage, but also local heritage. One thing is for certain, Cafteas are as unique and flavorful as our culture.

Along with offering CafTea — of which some flavors include Chocolate Chai, Toffee Hazlenut ,and French Vanilla Bean — PR Tea Co. sells a range of artisanal coffees and medicinal loose-leaf teas, including a range of Smart Tea Wellness Infusions that are supposed to make your brain more efficient. There are also fruit, white, green, red, black, oolong, and herbal teas, as well as mate. We’re looking forward to seeing how PR Tea Co. progresses, and if CafTea becomes a new caffeine fix choice for coffee drinkers.

— Jessica Festa, Epicure & Culture

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Savoring Old San Juan With Spoon Food Tours

The green plantains are being smashed as we speak, enveloped in the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of the buildings that surround us, as Pablo Garcia, our guide—more like an old friend we're visiting at this point—explains why the cobblestone beneath our feet is glimmering with a faint metallic blue.

“These are known as adoquines” he says. “The bricks hail all the way over from Liverpool, England. These were used from 1891 to 1895, and the blue colors are due to the fact that they were made by the iron smelting industry.

“The top half-inch is iron slag fused to the top,” Garcia added.

Fascinated, we stroll along with our heads bowed, snapping pics of the iron-clad bricks as we go, before entering a cozy restaurant where we’re greeted like family, with open arms and warm smiles.

The scent of fried plantains fills the room, and as we sit down, we’re presented with a bowl of mofongo.

This traditional Puerto Rican dish starts with fresh green plantains that are smashed and fried, and in this case, topped with chicken in a garlic cream sauce.

It’s the fourth dish we’ve tasted so far, but somehow, we’re hungry for more and can’t wait to dig in.

Garcia, imparting his deep passion for cuisine and history, has that effect on you. He’s the manager of Spoon Food Tours, and we’re on the Old San Juan Walk & Taste Tour, lost in his captivating explanations.

Bad Bunny’s adidas Forum Low Buckle “The First Café” Collaboration

Bad Bunny is making waves around the world. The Puerto Rican artist not only blessed us all with three albums in 2020 — YHLQMDLG, LAS QUE NO IBAN A SALIR and EL ULTIMO TOUR DEL MUNDO — he also released Crocs for glow-in-the-dark clogs and became the “WWE 24/7 Champion”. And now he has just announced his forthcoming adidas Forum Low “The First Café” collaboration.

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CafTea: Where Coffee and Tea Meet in Puerto Rico - Recipes

We visited initially on a cocktail tour of San Juan and returned later in the trip due to the great drinks and friendly staff. Ask for the Maverick! It’s a rum cocktail with local flavor. Atmosphere is elegant and classy. Interesting history at this location as well. A must visit!

9 - 13 of 323 reviews

Over the past 10 years, we've spent several evenings at Carli's and we've always had a great time. The atmosphere is quiet, elegant, classy and a perfect place for a special occasion dinner. The staff is so attentive and wonderful. There is an array of food options and each one that we've tried has been delicious. Carli has been kind enough to play/dedicate a song to us on our anniversary dinners that we've had there many times as well as introduce us to Coquito on our first time there. We've enjoyed many great restaurants in OSJ such as Marmalade, Barrachina and more but Carli's is a must stop. It's a small place so I'd make a reservation just to be sure. ENJOY!!

The restaurante belongs to jazz musician Carli Muñoz, ex Beach Boys. He plays here on Saturdays. He food is excellent. The music is of course, tops. It’s a locals hang out. If you want to meet Puerto Rican’s, just sit st the bar and you’ll meet a lot of new friends.

CafTea: Where Coffee and Tea Meet in Puerto Rico - Recipes

My friend and I had dinner here and it was very good. I had the chicken glaze and she the lobster ravioli. Both were delicious! Great wine and the jazz type live music was a bonus. Staff were friendlly and attentive. Highly recommend!

8 - 12 of 323 reviews

We visited initially on a cocktail tour of San Juan and returned later in the trip due to the great drinks and friendly staff. Ask for the Maverick! It’s a rum cocktail with local flavor. Atmosphere is elegant and classy. Interesting history at this location as well. A must visit!

Over the past 10 years, we've spent several evenings at Carli's and we've always had a great time. The atmosphere is quiet, elegant, classy and a perfect place for a special occasion dinner. The staff is so attentive and wonderful. There is an array of food options and each one that we've tried has been delicious. Carli has been kind enough to play/dedicate a song to us on our anniversary dinners that we've had there many times as well as introduce us to Coquito on our first time there. We've enjoyed many great restaurants in OSJ such as Marmalade, Barrachina and more but Carli's is a must stop. It's a small place so I'd make a reservation just to be sure. ENJOY!!

The restaurante belongs to jazz musician Carli Muñoz, ex Beach Boys. He plays here on Saturdays. He food is excellent. The music is of course, tops. It’s a locals hang out. If you want to meet Puerto Rican’s, just sit st the bar and you’ll meet a lot of new friends.

Puerto Rico rejects key deal with creditors to reduce debt

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor announced Tuesday that a federal control board reached a key deal that would reduce the U.S. territory’s overall debt by nearly 80%, but that his administration is rejecting it amid concerns about cuts to the island’s crumbling public pension system.

The impasse between the governor and a board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances threatens to throw into limbo attempts to end a bankruptcy-like process for a government that six years ago declared unpayable its more than $70 billion public debt load.

The deal was reached with creditors who hold general obligation bonds and Public Building Authority bonds sold by Puerto Rico’s government and would resolve $35 billion worth of debt and non-debt claims, according to the board. It also would reduce debt held by those creditors from $18.8 billion to $7.4 billion, a 61% reduction, and would provide them with $7.4 billion in bonds and $7 billion in cash, among other things.

The board said the deal would free up more than $300 million a year for government services, and that instead of the 30 cents for every dollar in taxes and fees that Puerto Rico’s government collects that once went to creditors, it would be less than 8 cents.

“It will set Puerto Rico on the path to end bankruptcy,” said board chairman David Skeel. “We think this is a very, very big moment in Puerto Rico’s recovery.”

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi disagreed.

He said in a statement that while the agreement is positive in many ways for Puerto Rico, his administration does not back the deal that is scheduled to be submitted in court next month and requires final approval from a federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy-like process.

“The plan of adjustment should not be structured in a way that affects our pensioners even more,” he said.

Pierluisi added that finalizing the restructuring of a portion of Puerto Rico’s debt is a priority for his administration, but not at the expense of retirees: “Putting the bankruptcy process behind us is a fundamental step toward the recovery and economic development of our island.”

Natalie Jaresko, the board’s executive director, said she understood the governor’s concerns but added that she doesn’t want to presuppose what might happen going forward and what the lack of support from Pierluisi could mean for debt-restructuring efforts.

“I’m hopeful that over time people will understand that this is likely to be the most fair and confirmable resolution to exit bankruptcy,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll reach consensus.”

Jaresko noted that more than 70% of pensions would face no cuts, and that most teachers and police officers are under the $1,500 threshold. She added that the board also would set aside a pension reserve trust since it projects budget deficits in upcoming years, and that money in the trust could not be used to help the government make ends meet.

Puerto Rico accumulated the debt after decades of mismanagement, corruption and excessive borrowing to balance budgets. A former governor declared it unpayable in 2015 and then two years later, the government filed for the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy in history.

Officials are now restructuring a portion of that debt amid a nearly 15-year economic crisis that deepened after Hurricane Maria, a string of strong earthquakes that hit a year ago and the ongoing pandemic.

The creditor groups involved in the deal hold more than $11 billion worth of bonds. Those who hold more than $8 billion of those bonds said they have engaged in good faith with the board to provide Puerto Rico with the financial flexibility it needs to recover from the pandemic.

“This widely-supported compromise will help Puerto Rico avert years of costly, distracting litigation and finally expedite the island’s long-awaited exit from bankruptcy in 2021,” they said in a statement.

The next step is for the court to hold a hearing where details of the plan will be provided. A majority of bondholders would then have to vote in favor of the deal for it to be approved, and then a confirmation hearing would be held. Currently, 60% of bondholders back the deal.

The board said mediation continues with creditors that hold other types of bonds, including Employee Retirement System ones.

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Our Team

Mardiks Public Relations is a collaboration of some of the best and brightest minds in travel PR. We are a highly networked team of travel, tourism and lifestyle marketing communications experts, hand-selected for each individual client.

Clients receive individualized, hands-on senior attention and are not bound to a rigid structure and the associated costs.We also offer team members with specialized niche expertise in food/wine and spirits, entertainment, multi-cultural marketing and LGBTQ+ markets.

Charles Mardiks: President

Charles Mardiks has more than two decades of strategic marketing communications and public relations experience in global travel and tourism. He previously served as the managing director of the public relations division of MMGY Global, an integrated marketing agency. He co-founded New York-based MMG Mardiks, Inc. in 2002, one of the fastest growing travel specialist public relations agencies. In 2012, MMG Mardiks merged with Ypartnership to form MMGY Global

Prior to that he was a senior vice president at KWE Associates, a leading travel and tourism public relations agency.He has orchestrated brand-building public relations programs for longstanding clients across a broad spectrum of industries including airlines, cruise lines, car rental companies, credit cards/payment systems, hotels and resorts, tour operators, destinations and associations. Charles has worked with clients in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Charles was the architect behind image and visitation-building public relations and digital campaigns for destinations such as Colorado Sarasota, Florida Ft. Myers/Sanibel, Florida Portland, Oregon Germany and Hong Kong. He also managed ongoing public relations programs for Hertz Midwest Airlines Rocky Mountaineer Travel Guard Insurance Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Rezidor Hotel Group Hotel Missoni Regent Hotels and Resorts Peninsula Hotel Group The May Fair Hotel, London and Atlantis, Bahamas, to name a few. His media and industry relationships are vast.

Bringing clients together with a broad range of consumer and luxury products and services, retailers and leading influencers, Charles has been instrumental in the creation of many high-profile consumer and media events, strategic alliances and business-building campaigns. He has served as a crisis communications expert and counselor on behalf of companies and governments in times of natural disaster, terrorism, and military conflict.

His work has been honored with numerous awards including the Hotel Sales and Marketing International (HSMAI) Adrian Award and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silver Anvil. He has been featured in such outlets as The New York Times, NBC News, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, PR Week and O’Dwyer’s PR News and has been a guest speaker at industry events around the world. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME). Charles is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Management at Syracuse University.

Elisa Fershtadt: Director

Elisa Fershtadt is a public relations and media communications specialist with extensive travel and tourism experience.

Her far-reaching media contacts with leading print, broadcast and digital media have landed her clients in front of a national and international audience. Stories have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC’s TODAY Show, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Sunday Morning as well as major tourism blogs and trade and business outlets. Her knowledge and careful vetting of top lifestyle influencers have provided successful partnerships for her clients. Luxury travel features have appeared in Elite Traveler, The Robb Report, Cigar Aficionado, Private Clubs, and The New York Times “T” Magazine, among others.

She has secured major coverage, including cover stories, in the industry’s leading travel trade and meetings publications including Travel Weekly, Travel Agent, Luxury Travel Advisor, Meetings & Conventions and Successful Meetings.

Elisa has expertise in marketing promotions, partnerships and product placement and crisis communications. Partnership promotions and strategic alliances include Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City’s Broadway community, ArtHamptons and Central Park Conservancy’s "Taste of Summer."

Elisa developed the strategic plans for multi-million dollar accounts such as the Jamaica Tourist Board and managed media activities for the Monaco Government Tourist Office, Meet Puerto Rico, Steve and Doris Colgate Offshore Sailing School, Forbes Travel Guide, Mexico Ministry of Tourism, Puerto Rico Tourism Company, The Lee County Florida Visitor & Convention Bureau, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotels, Regent Hotels & Resorts, The May Fair Hotel in London and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, among others.

She launched New York Sports Tours and the lifestyle division of Bedside Reading.

Lanny Grossman: Senior Associate

For the past 15 years, Lanny Grossman has specialized in public relations, luxury lifestyle marketing and consumer outreach for some of the world’s preeminent brands. From media outreach to marketing partnerships and corporate branding, Lanny applies an analytical and goal-oriented approach to creating marketing solutions for clients around the world.

He has developed and implemented campaigns for hotels, resorts and restaurants in Africa, Europe and North, South and Central America. He has also been instrumental in positioning Global Vision International (GVI) as one of the most well respected and prominent international volunteering organizations in the world.

He began his career working with notable hotel properties such as the famed Waldorf-Astoria in New York and Le Byblos Hotel in Saint-Tropez, handling U.S.-based public relations efforts on behalf of the properties. He has recently worked with Lario Hotels in Cumo, Grand Hotel via Veneto in Rome and Flemings May Fair, London.

After excelling within an agency environment, Lanny was recruited to become the director of public relations for two of America’s highest grossing and famous New York restaurants--Tavern on the Green and the Russian Tea Room. Following his time on the restaurant scene, Lanny returned to luxury hospitality as the director of public relations for the five-star New York Palace Hotel & Towers, an independent, luxury hotel in the heart of Manhattan.

Building upon his previous experience in the luxury hospitality sector, Lanny was recruited to be the director of brand communications for Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), an international hotel consortium whose portfolio boasts over 520 hotels in more than 70 countries. He raised the brand’s visibility during his more than five-year tenure through high-profile media placements and effective brand affiliations.

Lanny is on the board of OneKid, OneWorld that funds schools and education projects in Kenya, He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and The International Spa Association (ISPA).

When travelers brave the &lsquotough sells,&rsquo it&rsquos possible everyone wins

In Egypt, the pyramids of Giza. MOHAMED HOSSAM/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Lara Eurdolian was only weeks away from a long-planned vacation to Mexico City when a major earthquake struck there in September.

The Belmont-born world traveler considered canceling her trip, or heading to Mexico anyway and volunteering to help in some way.

“We had a lot of hesitation,’’ Eurdolian said. “We didn’t feel right about going on tours and things when people there were having a hard time.’’

But after seeing that Mexican tourism agencies had quickly whipped up the slogan “Tourism Helps Mexico,’’ she decided that the best thing to do was go.

“What they needed was money from tourism,’’ said Eurdolian, who writes a fashion, beauty, and travel blog. “I’m just glad we went ahead. The city was totally vibrant. People were very gracious, very nice.’’

At a time of natural disasters and political turmoil, an increasing number of tourism-dependent destinations have become tough sells. But travelers and industry representatives say this makes many of them cheaper and less crowded, with populations more warmly welcoming to visitors and the business they bring.

They’re also even more interesting than usual.

“Yes, tourism has gone down — mass tourism’’ — since the turbulent Arab Spring, said Manal Kelig, cofounder of Gateway to Egypt and executive director for the Middle East and North Africa of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

“But we’re seeing an increase in interest from different types of travelers who want to come and learn about these destinations now. They are hungry for more modern than ancient history.’’

Saturday, January 21, 2006

¡El que quiere puede!

posted by La Ventanita at 3:12 PM | -->

The sound of me falling on my ass (excuse my language please). We've all covered the Stooge Curly story of how he is giving heating oil to the poor in the US through the CITGO corporation. We've all wondered what his motives are, probably trying to buy himself some support, you know, so the poor in this country start paying attention to him, his revolution, his rhetoric and worse, start believing it. The other day I read a story where it stated that the "discounted oil" (I thought it was free) would also be distributed in Rhode Island. Rhode Island? How come I have not heard of this? My husband and I live about $7k above poverty level, and received a $450.00 subsidy this year to cover heating oil costs - which mind you only went as far as December and January, thank God for the mild winter we are having. Otherwise, it would've only covered one month. The life of the student is a poor one, but we make ends meet. So I was surprised they would be giving this discounted oil and we hadn't heard anything about this, since you know, we are poor!

Well, be careful what you wish for, today we got the letter that entitles us to 250 gallons at 40% discount! See the letter !

posted by La Ventanita at 2:37 PM | -->

Cuban Baseball in Perspective

I'm not fond of covering this, as all the hoopla surrounding the Cuban Baseball team makes me sick. But for us Cuban-Americans, it's a divisive topic that tugs at our very own heartstrings and at the very fiber of feeling Cuban. We feel bad for the players, but we don't want Fidel to gain any ground. It's a classic catch 22 situation, or as we say in Spanish nos pone entre la espada y la pared. All the MSM has cared about is Cuba playing. The Cuban-American community, as well as the Cubans living in exile have been entirely ignored. But perhaps the biggest crime has been committed against the Cuban baseball players that reside in the US. Who will they play for? Why will they not be allowed to play? Where is Bud Selig and the IFB on this topic? Why will these freedom and opportunity seekers not be allowed to represent their country? The Dominicans, Venezuelans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans playing in the MLB are allowed to go play for their country's team, why not the Cubans? So I ran into this article from New Jersey, which I publish in its entirety. The emphasis are my own. I think we should all read it, it is as close of a true factual report on the situation as we are going to get from the media. For me this article hits the nail in the head. I just found out there's more out there. The Miami Herald has a wonderful editorial from Dan Le Batard, you can read it here and I strongly suggest you do. Babalu has a post with comments from Senator Mel Martinez-R, regarding the issue of the players here .

News that Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic was received with mixed feelings among North Jersey's Cuban-Americans on Friday. Some welcomed the reports with nationalistic pride, yet others vowed to root for the American team.

"These things always create mixed feelings," said Remberto Perez of Tenafly. "I'm a big baseball fan, and I always want to see good baseball. But this will remind us of how these players are used by Cuba."

Perez said he doesn't expect his American friends to understand.

"In the Anglo community, they can't really see why we are not ecstatic about this, because they take the simplistic approach that it is only a baseball game," he said. "But [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro has always made politics out of sports, especially the baseball teams. He uses them for propaganda. So that is the part that is hurtful to us."

In Paterson, Cuban-American Marcia Sotorrio saw it a little differently.

"It's good that they will be allowed to play, because the more exposure they get to what's happening outside of Cuba, the more they see what freedom is like, the more motivated they will be to seek change in Cuba,"she said. "It could start a psychological revolution once they return to the miserable lives they have to live there."

Cuba's application to participate in the 16-nation tournament, which begins in Puerto Rico, had been denied in mid-December, when the U.S. Treasury Department determined that allowing the Cubans to play for money would violate the U.S. embargo against the communist-ruled island.

But after Cuba vowed to donate its profits to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a Treasury spokeswoman announced Friday that a license had been granted for the Cuban team to participate under an agreement that "ensures that no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime."

At the coffee stands (this would be Las Ventanitas)of Hudson County, where Cuban baseball and politics are the main topics of discussion on any given day, Friday was especially intense. The news led to heated, arm-waving discussions. (can't you completely picture this?)

"I don't think the Cubans should be allowed to play," said Alberto Diaz, 81, of West New York.
"They don't represent Cuba. They represent repression."

Hiroland Garcia, 72, of Union City agreed. "If Cuba wins, it will not be treated as a baseball victory," he said. "Castro will say it was a victory over Yankee imperialism."

Garcia said he will root for the American team when the tournament begins in March "because I'm not for anything that would give Fidel a victory." His friend, Ruben Alvarez, 78, of Union City, said he will support any team playing against his countrymen "because I did that even when I still lived in Cuba."

Yet other Cuban-Americans on Hudson County's Bergenline Avenue said they welcomed the inclusion of the Cuban team in the baseball series. "[The United States] had to let them play because Cuba has the best players," said Angela Lopez, a waitress at El Artesano Restaurant in Union City, where the menu is as Cuban as the political discussions.

"If the Cubans didn't play it would not be a legitimate series. How could the winners call themselves champions without beating the Cubans?"

Another waiter, Ignacio Alfonso, 42, said: "We should not mix sports with politics. Let's leave that to Castro."

The Cubans should be allowed to play, said customer Felipe Gomez, "as long as they are not violating the embargo."

"Some of them will find a way to defect," Gomez added. "And once they do they will show the world that they are against that regime and that in Cuba there is a lot of talent that is suppressed."

Because this tournament will allow the immigrant stars of American baseball to play for their respective home countries, Cuban-Americans say their own players - including some who have defected from the communist island - should also be allowed to play on the Cuban team. They don't think Castro would allow defectors on his team, but they say that should be a condition for letting Cuba participate in the tournament.(I could not agree with this statement more)

"If you want to see real Cuban baseball, without politics, let them all play together," said Perez, the New Jersey representative of the anti-Castro Cuban-American National Foundation. "I think that way a lot of us would be watching without remorse." (this is so TRUE).

Watch the video: CARS AND COFFEE PUERTO RICO - MAS DE 400 CARROS EN LA GUANCHA!? (January 2022).