SARASOTA, Fla.- Within the last decade, the Suncoast has become home to a booming immigrant population. According to the last two census reports, in Manatee County, the Hispanic or Latino population has grown by more than 95% and in Sarasota County by 112%.
The numbers suggest the need for an influential voice, especially for the Cuban community.
A local publication is playing a major role in bringing light to U.S, Cuban relations. This is significant because communication in Cuba is tightly controlled, but a Suncoast editor has been successful in bringing accurate, independent information related to economic and business issues affecting Cuba and the country's relations with the world.
The online publication Cuba Standard has merged with Miami’s CubaNews creating two solely electronic publications based out of Sarasota.
“We are going to focus on the economy and business on the Cuba Standard side and CubaNews is eventually going to morph into a general news site about Cuba," says Johannes Werner, the publications' editor.
Werner is a German immigrant and Sarasota resident. He is fascinated by the Cuban culture, economy, and business and over many years has gained the trust and vital sources needed to report on a government who he says monopolizes their media.
"Since we are the only ones who cover the economy and business in Cuba, focused like a laser, there are many ways of anticipating news, reading between the lines; and frankly, it's also the fact that I’ve been covering Cuba for more than a decade,” says Werner.
Werner has lived on the Suncoast for over 15 years, and says he has been impacted by the growing Hispanic community.
"I'm part of the big immigrant group here in Sarasota, and I have benefited from the fact that there are many Hispanic immigrants in this area, particularly Cuban immigrants."
The owner of the local Palmas de Cuba restaurant, Alfredo Zamora says, he left Cuba about 12 years ago after working for the Cuban government.
Zamora believes the tie between the Cuban economy and the United States' economy, through this publication, will be beneficial and help the Cuban economy.
"It covers the Cuban economy. The Cuban economy has links to the United States. Obviously there are exports and Cuba is also investing abroad,” says Werner.
Werner says 20% of their readers reside in Havana, Cuba, and the publication reaches more readers globally, but has high hopes that the recent merger will impact the Suncoast.
"The simple fact that news are flowing from Cuba to the United States via Sarasota may have some kind of ripple effects,” says Werner.
The publications can be only be accessed online. Werner says the CubaNews website is under construction until the end of January and by February. Both online publications will be subscription only.