Jesse Jackson arrives in Cuba on mission of reconciliation

HAVANA Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:20pm EDT

U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (C) walks at the National hotel in Havana September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa

U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (C) walks at the National hotel in Havana September 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Enrique de la Osa

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HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson arrived in Cuba on Friday where he said he hoped to facilitate improved relations with the United States and see imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross.

Jackson is on a private visit to the communist-run island being hosted by the Roman Catholic Church.

He has visited Cuba a number of times and met with former President Fidel Castro.

"The church is concerned about peace ... and Cuba's relations with the United States and the rest of the Caribbean. I hope we can facilitate that," he said.

Asked if he would meet with Gross, Jackson said, "I don't know, but I would like to."

Gross has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009 in a case that has put the brakes on a brief improvement in long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations.

In a March 2011 trial, Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for installing internet networks for Jewish groups under a secretive U.S. program the Cuban government considers subversive.

The United States insists Gross was merely helping the local population get connected as part of a democracy-building project.

"I appeal to His Excellency President Raul Castro to release Mr. Alan P. Gross on humanitarian grounds," Jackson said in an open letter to Castro in March 2011.

Jackson told reporters before entering Havana's Hotel Nacional that he had other items on his agenda.

He was in Colombia earlier this month where he urged Colombia's FARC rebels to free former U.S. Marine Kevin Scott Sutay, whom they kidnapped in June.

Cuba is hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and more than 30 of the guerrilla organization's commanders are in Havana.

A Cuban source said Jackson may meet with some of them while in Cuba.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (2)
dualcitizen wrote:
So, Jesse getting publicity, nothing newsworthy here. Now, if he actually accomplished something (but to date, how many has he gotten released? 0), that would be newsworthy.

Sep 27, 2013 11:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DC1945 wrote:
How can relations be substantively improved if the USA continues to impose genocidal trade sanctions targeting every man, woman and child in that small island nation?

Is the US embargo genocide? Judge for yourself. Amnesty International has reported:

“The US government is acting CONTRARY to the Charter of the United Nations by restricting the direct import of medicine and medical equipment and supplies, and by imposing those restrictions on companies operating in third countries.”

“The RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED BY THE EMBARGO help to deprive Cuba of vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity.”

“The US embargo against Cuba is IMMORAL and should be lifted. It’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.”

“Amnesty International calls on the US Congress to take, WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY, the necessary steps towards lifting the economic, financial and trade embargo against Cuba.”

“UN agencies working in Cuba, such as the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA, continued [as of 2012] to report the negative effects of the US embargo on the health of the population, particularly members of marginalized groups. Access to specific commodities, equipment, medicines and laboratory materials remained scarce as a result of restrictions imposed on the importation of items manufactured by US companies and their subsidiaries or produced under US patents.”

Article 2c of the UN Genocide Convention states that the crime of genocide includes, among other things, “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

And is this not precisely what the USA has deliberately set out to do by depriving Cubans of “vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity,” as Amnesty International put it?

The UN General Assembly, including the USA’s closest allies, have voted overwhelmingly to condemn these cruel and inhumane sanctions every year for the past 20 years. On this insane policy, the US is truly isolated on the world stage. Makes you proud, don’t it America?

Sep 29, 2013 11:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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