Supporters of Alan Gross, the 62-year-old aid worker jailed three years ago by Cuba for handing out Internet equipment, called Friday on the U.S. government to send a high-level envoy to Havana and seek release of the ailing humanitarian worker.
District Seven command center in Miami received notification of a rustic vessel with 23 Cuban migrants aboard southwest of Key West, Fla., Nov. 5. The Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne arrived on scene and embarked 23 Cuban migrants. The 23 migrants were later transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke for repatriation.
Washington and Havana have taken baby steps over the last four years to end some of the more destructive elements of their relationship, like a U.S. prohibition against Cuban Americans' visiting their homeland more than once every three years and Cuba's demand that citizens get exit visas to go abroad.
Growth in the Cuban economy will come in at 3.1 percent this year, slightly less than the government's forecast of 3.4 percent as market-oriented reforms aimed at stimulating the state-dominated economy continue to perform below expectations.
Cuban Economy Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez said the island’s economy would grow 3.1 percent this year, trailing earlier forecasts of 3.4 percent, after the government failed to complete construction projects on time.
Peter Kornbluh, a Cuba specialist at the National Security Archives, a nonprofit research center in Washington, met with Gross for four hours on Wednesday at the military hospital in Havana where the contractor is being held. He said Gross appeared "extremely thin" — he has lost over 100 pounds since his arrest —and dispirited.
While the U.S. is demanding that Cuba release Gross, who visitors say is angry and frail, having lost 110 pounds in prison, Cuban officials say they are willing to do so only if President Barack Obama will release the Cuban agents.
The 40-year-old nonprofit organization (CNC) in Miami has run schools, offered employment programs, hosted health fairs, issued political policy papers, and helped develop affordable housing for low-income seniors. One of its operations was an alternative school in Hialeah, which the Doral-based bank now wants to seize.
This morning, IKEA released an independent report into the allegations. It found that indeed German prisoners had been used to make furniture -- but that Cuba only delivered a few dozen samples that were never sold because they didn't "meet quality standards."