The great thaw: President Obama aims to destroy the last bastion of Cold War politics, easing relations between the U.S. and Cuba
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On the heels of the White House announcement that they will be normalizing relations with Cuba-with whom the United States has had a cold relationship for decades-Cuba has announced that they will release an American that his been imprisoned there since 2009.
After more than 50 years, relations between the U.S. and Cuba are starting to normalize, bringing hope that one of the last bastions of the Cold War can be laid low.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Alan Gross, an American contractor, and another anonymous "intelligence asset" will be traded to the U.S. in exchange for three Cubans who were convicted of espionage in Miami.
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The U.S. spy has been held prisoner in Cuba for nearly 20 years, and an anonymous White House officials called him "responsible for some of the most important intelligence and counterintelligence" operations the U.S. ever performed in Cuba.
Raul Castro, the brother of former Cuban President and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, has started working with President Barack Obama to normalize relations between the two countries.
The unnamed Cuban national was apparently key to feeding the U.S. information about Cuban spies, which led to the arrest of Ana Montes, Kenall Myers and the Cuban Five on spy charges.
The White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said that the second man that will be released to the U.S. is "probably the most highly valued intelligence asset on Cuban soil."
The U.S. will be lifting parts of the economic and travel restrictions that have been in place against Cuba since 1961. President Obama also announced that in the next few months he would be interested in establishing an American embassy in Havana, the Cuban capital.
Tourism travel will not be allowed due to the travel ban imposed by Congress, but other kinds of travel within 12 categories is now much easier. This included family visits, official government business, humanitarian missions, and journalistic, educational and research trips.
Cuba is also going to release 53 of its own prisoners, labeled by the U.S. as political prisoners, and some already have been freed.
Press Secretary Earnest did not say whether Obama would make a visit to Havana, though he admitted he couldn't rule something out in the future. He did say that the U.S. has a long history of engaging countries that have troubling human-rights records, and always attempts to make them reform.
"We engage those countries and we engage the leadership of those countries," Earnest said.
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