Dec 21, 2014 by


Minnesota Cuba Committee;
For immediate release
December 18, 2014
Contact: Carla Riehle, 651-983-3981,


The Minnesota Cuba Committee enthusiastically welcomes President Obama’s long overdue announcement yesterday regarding normalization of relations with Cuba. Nonetheless, as President Castro said yesterday, “the heart of the matter” has not been resolved. Congress has yet to repeal the U.S. embargo which still prohibits most trade with Cuba, and Obama is expected to sign a bill imposing unilateral sanctions against Venezuela in a move that many see as intended to undermine crucial economic relationships between Cuba and Venezuela.


We are delighted that the remaining three members of the “Cuban Five” prisoners in the U.S. have been released. Contrary to many press reports, the Five were not convicted of espionage, but in an important distinction, were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage because no evidence was – or could be – put forward that they had spied on the U.S. government. The five Cuban agents were in the United States to monitor the activities of exile groups that had already committed terrorist acts against Cuba – acts that our government was ignoring.

And although we have no special knowledge of the negotiations leading up to yesterday’s announcements, we are sure that the Cuban government set an immovable line in the sand about freeing not just one or two, but all three of the remaining Five in exchange for USAID worker Alan Gross. 17 years ago, the Five were subject to what was widely recognized as an unjust and prejudicial trial in the heart of the Cuban exile community in Miami and neither the Cuban government nor the Cuban people would have settled for less than freedom for all three.

Yesterday’s announcement must be viewed in its historical context. Over the last 50 years of the embargo against Cuba, the U.S. has become increasingly isolated in the world community, with the United Nations General Assembly voting near-unanimously for 23 years to oppose these sanctions. Further, the U.S. was faced with the unpleasant reality that its political dominance in the western hemisphere is being increasingly threatened by the rising independence of Latin American states. Until yesterday, the U.S. was the sole opponent of Cuba’s attendance at April’s Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama and risked a humiliating defeat at that meeting.

The Minnesota Cuba Committee intends to continue its mission of solidarity with the Cuban Revolution as the people of Cuba forge their own path to the future. We call on Congress to completely repeal the U.S. embargo and we encourage Minnesotans to support Cuban sovereignty by traveling to the island to see for themselves what a country looks like that values humanitarian aid and education, rather than war and austerity.

At 3:30 pm, on Friday, December 19, the Minnesota Cuba Committee and other supporters of Cuba will gather at the corner of 11th Street and Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis to celebrate “Cuba Si; the Five are Free.” A public forum to explore the upcoming changes in U.S. – Cuba policy will be announced soon.

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