USAID contractor Alan Gross has been released from Cuba Wednesday, ten years before his sentence was due to end.
Other reports say three Cuban prisoners will be released from the U.S.
Raul Castro and Barack Obama are both due to make separate speeches on U.S.-Cuba relations Wednesday. Obama’s speech will address new steps in the relationship, according to U.S. officials.
teleSUR correspondent in Cuba, Fabiola Correa, reports that the Cuban press conference will take place at noon, local time.
Raul Castro will make an “important address about Cuba’s relations with the United States,” writes Cuban state newspaper Granma.
Alan Gross was released Wednesday morning is on his way back to the United States.
"This morning, Alan Gross has departed Cuba on a US government plane bound for the United States," an administration official said in a statement. "Mr. Gross was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States."
Cuba arrested Gross, now 65, on Dec. 3, 2009, and later convicted the USAID subcontractor to 15 years in prison for trying to establish clandestine internet service. Gross was subcontracted by private firm Development Alternatives, Inc., which was subcontracted by USAID to provide "humanitarian assistance.”
USAID has long tried to infiltrate Cuba via varios programs in order to affect soft change on the island. The U.S. more overt economic blockade on Cuba, harshly criticized by the international community for many years, has been in situ since the early days of the Cold War, when U.S. anti-communist hysteria was at its peak.
There has been growing pressure from within the United States to end the blockade, and recent rumors have suggested that Obama may change policy if Cuba were to make “democratic and economic reforms.”