New Yorkers come out to hear Cuban ambassador at John Jay College

Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations, Rodolfo Reyes, was the keynote speaker at an Oct. 25 program that examined “U.S. – Cuba Relations and the Case of the Cuban Five,” at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Present were activists Iris Baez, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana.

Organizers proclaimed that against a backdrop of enhanced cooperation between Washington and Havana in the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and increasing calls by U.S. citizens for normalization of relations between the two nations (note the Oct. 11 New York Times editorial “Obama Should End the Embargo on Cuba”), the case of five Cuban intelligence agents and a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development remains a main stumbling block to ending Cold War relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Cuba is sending the largest medical contingent of any country in the world to West Africa to fight Ebola. Reuters reports “The first group of 165 doctors and nurses deployed to Sierra Leone at the start of October and another group of around 40 medical staff was due to arrive in neighboring Guinea…” and “A team of Cuban doctors and nurses arrived in Liberia (Oct. 22)… alongside a U.S. military mission deploying in the West Africa country.”

Many Cuba supporters and policy analysts feel such cooperation should pave the way to reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

The event co-coordinators want to bring attention to “the thorny issue of ‘The Cuban Five’ (Convicted and sentenced in 1998 for conspiring to commit espionage against the U.S., the actual mission of these five Cuban agents was to infiltrate Miami-based exile groups with a history of terrorist acts against Cuba.) and that of Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor convicted and sentenced in Cuba for smuggling illegal sensitive satellite equipment onto the island as part of U.S. covert operations designed to forge opposition against Havana.”

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