Thursday, 21 February 2013
US Senators in Cuba - talk grows of change
If today's Boston Globe is to be believed the earth must be beginning to shake beneath the feet of the far right in Miami. There's talk of Cuba being taken off the list of terrorist states - a move that could have significant effects on the relationship between the two countries and signal a seismic shift in attitudes.
Here is what the Globe reporter Bryan Bender reports: "High-level US officials have concluded that Cuba should no longer be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, raising the prospect that a key obstacle to restoring diplomatic relations with the Cold War foe could soon be removed."
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the group of U.S. senators and congressmen currently visiting Cuba had confirmed yesterday that they visited an Alan Gross, the American whose detention for spying in Cuba has been a bone of contention between the two countries, but they gave no details on his condition or what was said.
The seven-member delegation led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also met with Cuban President Raul Castro (pictured above) and other senior officials. Leahy apparently said the two sides "discussed the continuing obstacles and the need to improve relations," adding that a rapprochement "is in the interest of both countries." The meeting was also covered in the Cuban press, with a front-page photo of a smiling Leahy and Castro seated at a small table in front of a thick clutch of palm fronds.
Two diplomatic sources on the island told the SFC that the meeting with Castro went on for about three hours, and that the American politicians said the Cuban leader made a concerted effort to speak individually to each of them. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the visit publicly.
The State Department has declined to comment on any of this but if Gross is released and Cuba comes off the list of terrorist states (something the president can do without permission of Congress) then the game will have changed and perhaps even an end to the embargo will be in sight.