Friday, December 19, 2014

Finally the Cuban 5 Have Been Freed!

Over half a century of US hostility to Cuban independence ended yesterday when Barack Obama vowed to cancel an outdated approach that has failed to advance US interests.

Simultaneous press conferences by President Obama in
Washington and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro in Havana signaled the official beginning of a new bilateral relationship.

But the fruits of that new dawn had already been tasted by the families of three Cuban patriots held unjustly for 16 years in US prisons who were flown to their homeland.

Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino were able to enjoy the freedom previously savored by fellow Miami 5 members Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, who were released in 2014 and 2011 respectively.

Similar joy was experienced by the family of 
US agent Alan Gross, who was jailed in Havana five years ago for working on a secretive USAid contract to build an internet communications network under the noses of the Cuban government.

He has been held in hospital since his conviction and has previously expressed his bitterness at being duped by USAid and abandoned by his government.

Washington also released three other people convicted of spying for Cuba — Ana Belen Montes, Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers — while Havana freed an unnamed US intelligence asset of non-US citizenship who had been held for 20 years.

President Castro welcomed the restoration of relations, but confirmed that profound differences remain between the two states in areas such as human rights, foreign policy and sovereignty.
But he said that countries have to learn to live with their differences “in a civilized manner.”

US will reopen an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges. Washington is also easing travel restrictions for family visits, official US government business and educational activities, although tourism remains banned.

US travelers will be able to return to the US with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100. This means the ban on Cuban cigars is over, but with limits.

The amount US citizens can send to
Cuba will also quadruple to $2,000 every three months.

> The article above is a shortened version of an article first published by the Morning Star newspaper, and written by John Haylett and Luke James.

No comments: