HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Cuba agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago, and President Barack Obama called for an end to the long economic embargo against its old Cold War enemy.
After 18 months of secret talks, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on Tuesday on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other’s countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban President Raul Castro hailed a landmark exchange of prisoners with the United States on Wednesday and praised U.S. President Barack Obama as the two countries agreed to normalize relations after more than five decades of hostility. The United States earlier on Wednesday freed three convicted Cuban spies in return for the release of U.S. foreign aid worker Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba in 2009, and of an intelligence agent who spied for the United States and had been held for nearly 20 years.
The release of the three Cuban agents will be seen as a major victory for Castro inside Cuba.
HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama was set to announce a shift in policy toward Cuba on Wednesday and the Associated Press reported the changes would include the opening of an embassy in Cuba and the start of talks to normalize relations.
The shift in policy, which could be one of the biggest changes in decades of animosity between communist-ruled Cuba and the United States, was heralded by Cuba’s release of American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana.
HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cuba has released American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana that the United States said on Wednesday heralds an overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba.
A U.S. official said Gross was released on humanitarian grounds. CNN reported a prisoner exchange that also included Cuba releasing a U.S. intelligence source and the United States releasing three Cuban intelligence agents.
HAVANA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro told leftist allies from Latin America on Sunday he
wanted to expand the Petrocaribe program of providing oil at
preferential terms, even as falling oil prices add more stress
to the Venezuelan economy.
Speaking in Cuba at a summit of the leftist ALBA bloc of
nine countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, Maduro did
not mention the impact of a 46 percent decline in oil prices
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban police detained several activists during peaceful demonstrations at a popular Havana square on Wednesday, an annual protest on international Human Rights Day.
The skirmishes outside the popular Coppelia ice cream parlor were ongoing, and there was no reliable estimate of the number of detentions.
BRUSSELS/HAVANA, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Cuba has delayed
negotiations towards an accord with the European Union aimed at
opening up the Communist-ruled island, citing a dispute over an
EU cultural event in Washington, people close to the matter said
The third round of talks, due to take place on Jan. 8-9 in
Havana, was scheduled to discuss human rights, always a
sensitive topic for Cuba, a one-party state that represses
dissent and controls the media.
HAVANA (Reuters) – U.S. foreign aid worker Alan Gross completed his fifth year in a Cuban prison on Wednesday with his wife warning he is in terrible condition, while any hopes for improving hostile U.S.-Cuban relations hinge largely on his fate.
“I am afraid that we are at the end. After five years of literally wasting away, Alan is done,” his wife, Judy Gross, said in a statement that described him as gaunt, hobbling and missing five teeth.
HAVANA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – In Bob Nederlander Jr.’s mission
to export Broadway to new markets around the world, he found an
old one where the American art form lay dormant for a least 50
years – communist Cuba.
After testing the Cuban appetite with a 2011 concert of
Broadway show tunes, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment decided
to stage a three-month run of “Rent,” the first Broadway musical
exported to Cuba in decades.
HAVANA (Reuters) – Spain’s foreign minister called on Cuba on Tuesday to grant free travel rights to dissidents arrested in the “black spring” of 2003 and released years later under strict conditions.
Spain mediated historic talks between Cuba’s communist government and the Roman Catholic Church that freed 75 political opponents in 2010 and 2011. They had been sentenced to terms ranging from 6 to 28 years.