Pardon the Five or swap them says Alarcon
News from Cuba | Saturday, 20 June 2009
National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcón is again raising the possibility of an exchange of prisoners between the United States and Cuba -- the five Miami Cubans imprisoned on espionage-related charges for an as-yet-unspecified number of Cuban dissidents who are imprisoned on the island for allegedly trying to destabilize the government.
Interviewed by the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Alarcón said that "there is an interest in the United States in some persons who committed the same crime as our five comrades -- being agents of [the United States], although doing different things."
In mid-April, Raúl Castro offered to make such an exchange. "I understand Raúl posited that as a 'gesture-for-gesture' with the United States," Alarcón told DPA. Still, an outright pardon from President Barack Obama would be quite acceptable, the Cuban official said.
"The solution is in [Obama's] hands. There are other things that are more complex. He cannot, for example, authorize travel by Americans to Cuba, because there is a Congressional law that bars him. But he can withdraw charges, annul a trial, pardon a defendant, give him amnesty without negotiating with anyone. It's a little signature," Alarcón said.
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review the case of The Five, as they are known in Cuba, "is like backing, like supporting terrorist activities against Cuba," he added.