“This morning, Alan Gross left Cuba in a US government plane headed for the United States,” a senior government official told the press on Wednesday. Gross was serving a 15-year sentence for, according to the Cuban authorities, “violating Cuban law, by implementing a subversive program financed by the United States government, via the establishment of illegal and covert communications, with the use of non-commercial technology.” He was freed for “humanitarian reasons on the request of the US,” added the same source, without giving further details.Such a horse trader! Meanwhile, Cuba's great good friendly nation Venezuela is whining, ¿Y nosotros?
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) marked its 10th anniversary in Havana over the weekend in nostalgic mood. At its 13th summit, the group reminisced over important moments in its history – Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez signing the agreement that created the forum in 2004, as well as the 20th anniversary of the first meeting between the two men in 1994, back when the late Venezuelan president was a lieutenant colonel who had just been released from military prison and the Cuban leader seemed like the last Mohican of socialism on a planet wrapped up in a neoliberal frenzy.Back when the made of sterner stuff Bill Clinton was POTUS. Now;
Included on the event program, as well as in its 40-point final declaration, were expressions of solidarity with the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and condemnation aimed at the United States, where lawmakers are pushing for sanctions against some Venezuelan civil servants and military officials. On December 10, both houses of the United States Congress passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a bill sponsored by the Republicans. The measure will allow authorities to seize the properties and freeze the assets of 56 Venezuelan officials who participated in efforts to repress demonstrations that took place in several cities throughout the country in February 2014. The law, which will also allow the American government to deport those individuals and revoke their visas, awaits the president’s signature.
Maduro, who co-chaired the ALBA summit with Raúl Castro, has mobilized all available diplomatic resources to respond to those potential US sanctions and use them to stir up patriotic indignation. He has called a massive demonstration for Monday along Caracas’s Avenida Bolívar to protest against Washington’s “interventionist” stance.