Report: Cuba to free 2,900 prisoners

Dec. 24, 2011 at 9:06 AM
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HAVANA, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Cuba will release some 2,900 jailed political prisoners with pardons, President Raul Castro announced.

Castro's declaration Friday said the pardons include 86 people from 25 countries, the El Nuevo Herald newspaper in Miami reported. But U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, serving a 15-year jail sentence in Havana for delivering high-tech Internet equipment Cuban Jews, will not be among those released, a source told the Herald.

In an address to parliament in Havana, Castro stopped short of declaring a loosening of migration policy, the BBC said.

"Many believe that this [migration] policy must be immediately revised, but they forget about the exceptional conditions that Cuba is surrounded by, which is a demolishing United States policy of intervention, aimed to achieve 'well-known aims' at any cost," Castro said.

While the United States is battling illegal immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries, current law allows any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil to stay.

Cubans seeking legal exit travel visas face "extremely complex and expensive" government procedures, the BBC said.

Since the communist revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, the United States hasn't maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1959.

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