Carrie Kahn

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Some 2,000 Cubans hoping to reach the United States are stranded in Central America. They've been traveling by land from South America. When the migrants tried to enter Nicaragua on foot, they were met with rubber bullets. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

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If you could start selling something in Cuba that would be a sure-fire money maker, what would it be?

Probably something that hasn't been widely available for more than 50 years in the state-controlled economy. A product for which there's pent up demand and one that would surely spruce up the place after decades of neglect.

Mexican businessman Jaime Murow Troice is already selling it: paint.

The best place to see Cuba's Internet explosion is along the busy Havana thoroughfare known as La Rampa, or the Ramp.

Named for its sloping descent toward the sea, it is congested and loud. Still, crowds pack the sidewalks, office alcoves and driveways here to get online. They huddle within a few blocks of huge cell towers atop the Habana Libre luxury hotel. All eyes are glued to smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Raul Cuba, 41, types a lengthy Internet access code and password into his phone. He only learned how to log on a month ago.

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Cubans welcomed Pope Francis this evening as he arrived in Havana for a tour across the island nation. In a brief speech just after his arrival, Francis spoke encouragingly about the warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Here he is via interpreter on CNN.

Just a few blocks from Havana's iconic sea promenade, Gabriela Garcia Rodriguez invites a visitor to check out her second-story, two-bedroom, vacation-rental apartment.

Garcia, a recent university biochemistry graduate, charges about $40 a night for the modest accommodations.

September is usually the low point in Cuba's tourist season. After all, it's almost constantly raining, it's extremely hot and the threat of hurricanes is high.

Eight months ago, Mexico's first lady, Angélica Rivera, known for her fondness of designer clothes and European vacations, made a public promise to sell a multimillion-dollar mansion bought under controversial circumstances. She purchased the home, at below market rates, from a contractor with lucrative connections to her husband.

The scandal has been one of the biggest to rock President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration. Months later, many questions remain regarding the purchase — and Rivera has yet to sell the house.

It's the tourist mantra these days: Get to Cuba before it loses its 1950s nostalgia and turns into a capitalist tourist trap.

This week saw 54 years of Cold War-era hostilities warm up in the Caribbean sun: On Monday, Cuba and the U.S. reopened embassies in each other's capitals, a major step in the normalization of relations between the long-time foes.

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What if more than 600 people were murdered in Arizona or Tennessee in one month — 22 dead every day?

That's the problem facing the tiny Central American nation of El Salvador, which has the same population as each of those states. Last month, the death toll in El Salvador hit 677, nearly twice as many murders as at the same time last year. Politicians, police and experts differ on what do to.

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Editor's Note: Unaccompanied minors surged across the U.S. southern border last year. In response, the Obama administration has introduced a program that would allow families to reunite. In this story about the divided Leveron family, NPR's Richard Gonzales reports first from California, followed by Carrie Kahn in El Salvador.

The 66th floor of Panama City's Trump Tower is a fine spot to experience Panama's booming economy. Beyond the building's windows, hundreds of skyscrapers stretch the length of the capital's skyline. Inside, a hand of blackjack will set you back $200, but all-you-can-drink champagne costs just $10.

On average, economic growth in Panama has topped 8 percent in the last five years, making the country the envy of its struggling Latin American neighbors.

In the U.S., the Supreme Court's widely anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage has been the focus of nonstop speculation and debate. In Mexico, meanwhile, the highest court effectively legalized same-sex unions this month with a decision that was so low key many failed to notice.

Mexico's Supreme Court quietly published an opinion, known as a jurisprudential thesis, ruling that defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman is discriminatory and in violation of Mexico's constitution.

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli wasn't always rich.

One of Central America's richest and most eccentric former politicians, Martinelli started off as a credit officer at Citibank in Panama. He bought one business, then another. Among his holdings is the country's largest supermarket chain, Super 99, known for bargain prices and catchy jingles.

But while his jingles may get Panamanian's hips moving, Martinelli's alleged pilfering and profiteering make their blood boil.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to fill the streets of the capital of El Salvador on Saturday to celebrate as one of Latin America's most revered and controversial religious figures is beatified — the last official step before sainthood.

They will gather to pay tribute to former Archbishop Oscar Romero, a beloved priest and staunch defender of the poor, who was murdered while celebrating Mass in 1980.

Panama, like its Central American neighbors, is struggling with a rise in gangs. A recent census by the country's security forces put the number of criminal organizations operating in Panama now at about 200.

One neighborhood, in the capital's historic district, is taking on its gang problem with a group of strange bedfellows.

First, meet K.C. Hardin.

"I moved to Panama 12 years ago just to surf and do nothing for a couple years, I thought," says Hardin.

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Presidents Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba shook hands last night before opening ceremonies of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. But the informal meeting between the two men today was the most anticipated moment of the conference.

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In the village of Tuffet, a rocky 45-minute drive from the closest city along Haiti's southern coast, several men get down to work in Monique Yusizanna Ouz's rural home. They're wiring up her two-room, dirt floor house with a breaker box, an outlet and a light fixture.

She's 66 years old, and for the first time in her life, she's going to have electricity.

Ouz, who has five grandchildren, wants a refrigerator. She wants cold drinks — for herself but also to sell. And she wants ice cream, too.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission is dealing with a new case of alleged violations by federal officials. This complaint, however, comes from the country's most vicious and notorious criminals — more than 100 of them.

Nearly 140 prisoners at Mexico's maximum security prison say they're being housed in unsafe and inhumane conditions.

In Mexico, the problem of drug trafficking is well publicized, but you can't say the same when it comes to the problem of drug addiction.

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And a controversy is swelling in Mexico over press freedoms. That's after one of the country's most famous investigative journalists was fired from her radio show. She's known for targeting some of Mexico's top public figures. NPR's Carrie Kahn has more.

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