Carter plans trip to Cuba at government’s invite
Posted on Friday, 03.25.11
Carter plans trip to Cuba at government's invite
The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter is expected to visit Cuba next
week to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro to discuss economic
policies and ways to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
The former president and his wife Rosalynn will arrive in Havana on
Monday and stay until Wednesday on a trip under the auspices of his
Atlanta-based Carter Center organization, spokeswoman Deanna Congileo
said. It is not an official U.S. mission.
Carter's visit comes days after a Cuban court sentenced U.S. contractor
Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state for
bringing illegal satellite communications equipment into the country.
The U.S. government and Gross's family say he was working to improve
Internet access for the island's Jewish community and should be released
immediately. Cuba rejects these claims, saying Gross was a "mercenary"
working on a program paid for by Washington that aimed to bring down
Cuba's revolutionary system.
U.S. officials say that no rapprochement is possible while Gross remains
jailed. Cuba, however, has presented Gross as evidence of U.S.
intentions to unleash a "cyberwar" to destabilize the island.
There have been no diplomatic relations between the countries since the
1960s and the United States maintains economic and financial sanctions
on the island.
During his administration, Cuba-US relations warmed briefly, with
short-lived direct flights between Miami and Havana and the opening of
interests sections that provide some contact in lieu of embassies. But
that short honeymoon ended with a refugee crisis that saw about 125,000
Cubans flee to the United States from the Mariel port west of Havana.