As part of the negotiated agreement between the Obama administration and the Cuban government, Reuters is now reporting that 53 prisoners have been released by the request of the United States. This release comes before next week’s talks between the US State Department and Cuban officials aimed at restoring diplomatic ties between the US and our island neighbor to the south.
The names of those released have not yet been made public, but it is suspected that the list includes CIA agents, US-paid mercenaries, and US aid workers who broke local laws. This move is designed to show that the Cuban government is following through on its pledges, and puts the pressure on the US to live up to its end of the tentative agreement. More information is expected to emerge during the talks but for now, things are looking quite positive for diplomacy.
The hope is to reopen the embassy in Havana for the first time in over half of a century. In addition, Cuba is hoping to finally remove the US prison from Guantanamo Bay, pointing out rightly that the US Navy’s lease for the base is limited to a refueling station only. Cuba has long wished the base removed entirely, but in talks there has been some willingness to relent if, the prison is removed because it exists completely outside of the terms of the lease agreement signed originally in 1903.
This is a small, but solid step forward in US-Cuban relations. The release of spies, mercenaries and accidental criminals to the United States is a needed step forward, the march of progress. With the reopening of diplomatic relations, there is the hope for a brighter future for both nations. And who knows, with famous Cuban-Americans now occupying seats of power in the US, this may be a time for Cuba to shine brightly on the world stage for once.
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