Black America Web is reporting that the Rev. Jesse Jackson appealed to Cuba on Tuesday to release an American contractor facing a possible 20-year sentence on charges of trying to undermine the government, saying that granting him freedom on humanitarian grounds could open the door to better relations.
Jackson offered to come to Cuba to mediate the release of Alan Gross, a 61-year-old Maryland native held there since December 2009. Gross, who was working for USAID when he was arrested, is set to go on trial Friday on charges of "acts against the integrity and independence" of Cuba. Jackson, who helped negotiate the release of 26 Cuban prisoners in 1984, says, "I am not making a legal case. I am making a humanitarian plea, a moral appeal," Jackson said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I hope that Raul (Castro) and the governing officials see the advantage of letting him go. Every time a prisoner is let go, it opens the door for increased dialogue and possibilities."
The reverend, who is speaking as a private citizen, not on behalf of the Obama administration, is putting on his diplomatic hat once again. Say what you will about Jesse Jackson, but he can get hostages freed in a way that even diplomats cannot. While Gross is not a hostage, his imprisonment is questionable. Hopefully Jackson will be able to work the same magic that he did in Syria in 1983, Cuba in 1984, Iraq in 1991 and Belgrade in 1999. Jackson has juice on the international scene. Let's see what he can squeeze out with this situation.
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