Friday, February 24, 2012

High Level Discussions between U.S. Senators and Raúl Castro--Could a Prisoner Swap be in the Making?

Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt.) and Senator Richard Shelby (R. Al) met with Raúl Castro and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez yesterday evening. Earlier Leahy had gone to the prison where Alan Gross is being held to meet with the USAID contractor serving a sentence for the illegal importation of equipment to facilitate Internet communications, presumably for the Havana Jewish community. 

The senators discussed the release of Gross in exchange for the five Cuban nationals serving sentences in the U.S. for espionage. This was the first meeting between Raúl Castro and any high U.S. government officials since meeting with Jimmy Carter in 2010.

I wonder if the coming meeting at Cartagena was discussed. President Obama will be in attendance. Raúl Castro intends to attend in an “observer” status. Whether the two will meet is an open question. If a meeting occurs, many in Florida will regard it as a “sell-out.” If Castro is not welcomed, it will appear to be a snub in much of Latin America. Sounds like a good time for our president to develop a bad cold that makes it impossible to fly.

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