Summary of AP and CNN news stories
2900 Cuban prisoners will be freed
Cuba will pardon more than 2,900 prisoners, the government said Friday, though U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross is not among those who will be freed.
The decision to release the prisoners follows “numerous requests” from their family members and religious institutions, and is a humanitarian gesture, said Cuban President Raul Castro.
Among those who might be freed are prisoners over the age of 60, along with those who are sick, female or young with no previous criminal record. With some exceptions, prisoners convicted of spying, terrorism, murder and drug trafficking will not be released.
Those who will be freed have already served a “important” part of their sentences and exhibited good behavior, according to an official statement published on the state-run website Cubadebate.
The jailed American, Gross, will not be among those pardoned, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington said.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE by Dana Ford of CNN
but 11,000,000 Cuban citizens must remain on island prison
President Raul Castro on Friday put on ice highly-anticipated plans to ease travel restrictions on Cubans, telling lawmakers the nation would not be pressured into moving too fast and citing continued aggression from the United States as the reason for his cautious approach.
Cuba has been awash in speculation the much-hated regulations, which prevent most Cubans from leaving the island, might be lifted during Friday’s session of the National Assembly. But Castro said the time still wasn’t right, despite a year of free-market reforms that has seen the Communist government legalize a real estate market and greatly increase private business ownership.
“Some have been pressuring us to take the step ... as if we were talking about something insignificant, and not the destiny of the revolution,” Castro said, adding that those calling for an end to the travel restrictions “are forgetting the exceptional circumstances under which Cuba lives, encircled by the hostile policy ... of the U.S. government.”
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE by Paul Haven of AP
——————————Havana Journal Comments——————————
It is VERY clear that Fidel still has a hand in big picture Cuban affairs. It is VERY clear that Fidel is holding Alan Gross. Raul is making a HUGE gesture to the Church, the world and to the US by releasing such a large amount of Cuban prisoners with VERY clear emphasis and a slap in the face to the US that Alan Gross will not be among the freed.
With regards to keeping Cuban citizens locked down in Cuba, I don’t really understand this one. Raul said gave the people hope that they would be have freedom to travel in his own words but takes this away from them two days before Christmas?
Merry Christmas from Raul to the Cuban prisoners but no Christmas present for Alan Gross or the Cuban people. Maybe next year.