Replica of U.S. slave ship from "Amistad" sails to Havana

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A U.S. replica of the 19th century Cuban slave ship Amistad glided into the millpond-calm waters of Havana Bay and docked Thursday, a reminder of the countries' intertwined past and perhaps a small gesture toward a brighter shared future.

Built in Connecticut, the black-hulled, two-masted re-creation of the schooner, whose name means "Friendship," flew the flags of the United States, Cuba and United Nations. It was one of the few times a ship under Cuba's flag and the Stars and Stripes has called on the island in 51 years of estrangement since Fidel Castro took power.

As the Amistad neared shore, the crew of 19 mostly students — all Americans except for one from the African nation of Sierra Leone — lowered the sails, taking the U.S. flag down with them. Once the ship docked, however, the flags of both nations again flew high.

"Sorry, I don't speak much Spanish," a grinning Capt. William Pinkney said in grammatically correct, if halting, Spanish, as he stepped ashore. Pinkney, Amistad's captain emeritus, led the journey into Havana.

A group of Cuban dignitaries headed by parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon greeted the vessel, along with Cuban preteens in red-and-white school uniforms, leaders of Cuba's Santeria religion, which mixes Catholicism with the traditional African Yoruba faith, and a band pounding conga drums....

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