Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuban diplomats barred from New York

    Cuban diplomats barred from New York
    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) — The United States said yesterday that it has
    denied two Cuban diplomats in Washington permission to visit New York
    because envoys at the US mission in Havana are barred from leaving the
    Cuban capital.

    The deputy chief of mission and the first secretary of the Cuban
    interests section asked permission to travel "to New York to participate
    in the Marxist Leninist Today Forum," State Department spokeswoman
    Victoria Nuland said.

    "Now we certainly have no objections to the reason for their travel.
    However, we denied the visas because they have not been allowing our
    guys in Havana to leave the city at all," Nuland told reporters.

    When he entered office in January 2009, US President Barack Obama raised
    hopes that ties with the Americas' only one-party communist regime would
    improve dramatically, but very little progress has been made.

    Relations only worsened when Cuba last year sentenced US contractor Alan
    Gross to 15 years in prison for trying to distribute satellite phones
    and computer equipment to members of Cuba's Jewish community.

    For the last 50 years Cuba has been subject to comprehensive US economic