From Cuban exiles to Bay Area salsa fanatics clad in nostalgic Cuban revolutionary gear and chomping the occasional cigar, Oakland’s Splash Pad Park was a crucible of various cultures Sunday as San Francisco-based Cuban salsa outfit, Team Bahia, performed some of its best tracks for a crowd of more than 300 dancers.

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Just six months ago, because of travel sanctions against Cuba, a U.S. citizen could have faced up to a $55,000 fine and possibly served jail time if they traveled Cuba without going through a restrictive licensing process that allowed only specific groups of people to travel to the country. And even if they did attempt to get a license, most U.S. citizens didn’t qualify for it. Now, after an easing of travel restrictions by the federal government, many people will be able to easily get a license and catch a direct flight to Cuba straight from the Oakland International Airport.

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Silvio Rodríguez — who took his first US tour in thirty years to Oakland’s Paramount Theatre — is to Latin America as Bob Dylan is to the United States. He is a folk singer and guitarist who sometimes veers into jazz or other styles of music, but first and foremost his music is about the lyrics — and politics.

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