HAVANA (Reuters) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the top FARC rebel commander pledged on Wednesday to end Latin America’s longest war within six months and sealed their pact with a handshake likely to stand as a lasting image.
Santos and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, also agreed the leftist guerrillas would lay down arms within 60 days of signing the deal, which now has an official deadline of March 23, 2016.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the top commander of leftist FARC rebels shook hands on Wednesday and agreed to reach a final peace agreement within six months in Latin America’s longest war.
“The chief of the FARC secretariat and I have agreed that in no more than six months this negotiation should come to an end and we should sign a final agreement,” Santos told a ceremony in Havana, the site of peace talks for the past three years.
HAVANA (Reuters) – The popes change, but the images are similar: plain-clothed Cuban security agents wrestling with dissidents to prevent them delivering messages to the pontiff.
Cuba’s small but vocal dissident groups have become a focal point of Pope Francis’ visit to the country this week as police have detained dozens of people to stop them attending papal events.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Pope Francis met Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Sunday hours after warning Cubans to beware the dangers of ideology and the lure of selfishness as their country enters a new era of closer ties with the United States.
Latin America’s first pope and Castro, the region’s last surviving leftist icon of the 20th century, discussed religion and world affairs at the home of the 89-year-old retired president for about 40 minutes.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Pope Francis celebrates Mass with tens of thousands of Cubans on Sunday in Havana’s Revolution Square, the political heart of Cuba where the Communist government stages its biggest rallies.
The huge plaza is where Cubans celebrate May Day beneath massive portraits of revolutionary leaders Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos built into the facades of government buildings.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Pope Francis flies to Cuba on Saturday for a three-night visit seen as a potential public relations coup for Cuba but also a risk he might speak more bluntly about democracy and human rights than the Communist government would like.
On the first papal visit to Cuba in 1998, Pope John Paul II made pointed comments about prisoners of conscience, saying they suffered “an isolation and a penalty” for merely wanting to “speak their mind with respect and tolerance.”
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba on Wednesday launched its annual campaign for a United Nations resolution condemning the U.S. economic embargo while the White House and the Vatican added their own pressure on the U.S. Congress to end the 53-year-old sanctions.
The Vatican has long opposed the Cold War-era embargo, saying ordinary Cubans suffer most from its effects, and Havana is counting on hearing that message when Pope Francis visits for three nights starting Saturday before continuing on to the United States.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Libertad Infante has been hosting Roman Catholic services in the patio of her middle class home for 20 years.
At first they stirred interest from state security agents who showed up with inquiries, she said, especially after a crowd of pilgrims once carried a large cross through her neighborhood in eastern Havana.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama, who are forging a new detente between Cuba and the United States, are bound to cross paths again at a U.N. gathering in New York this month but do not have a formal meeting set, Cuba said Wednesday.
Both leaders, who held a historic meeting at a regional summit in Panama in April, are to due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 28.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba on Friday pardoned 3,522 common prisoners in what it called a humanitarian gesture ahead of next week’s visit by Pope Francis, repeating similar actions it took ahead of two previous papal visits.
Cuba said they would be released within three days in what would be among the largest mass releases of prisoners since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Cuba freed 3,600 political prisoners at once in 1978.