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US lawmakers, dissidents meet in Havana

Havana (AFP) – A delegation of US lawmakers headed by Democratic Senator
Patrick Leahy met Sunday with dissidents for the first time since the
countries announced plans to normalize ties, an activist said.

The US lawmakers “wanted to hear our opinions, and they also gave their
own opinions,” Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban National Reconciliation and
Committee said.

About 15 opponents of the Americas’ only communist government met for
more than two hours with the American visitors, underlining the fact
that dissidents have many different views and priorities.

“Among us, there are those who support (US-Cuban) rapprochement and
others who do not,” Sanchez said.

In December, US President Barack Obama took the historic step to begin
renewing ties with Havana and move to end a decades-old US policy of
isolation.

Some critics of the US-Cuban effort to normalize diplomatic ties
complain that Obama moved ahead without any pledge of specific change or
action from President .

Among the dissidents attending the meeting with US lawmakers were
Yoani Sanchez, leader Berta Soler and Jose
Daniel , who leads the Patriotic Union of Cuba, active in the east.

The US delegation included six Democratic lawmakers, among them the
party’s number-two senator, Dick Durbin, and Congressman Chris Van
Hollen of Maryland. They are due to meet with Cuban officials Monday.

Leahy played a key humanitarian role between the two nations last year.

He was involved in negotiations and elaborate plans that ultimately led
to the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, one of three Cuban agents jailed in
the US since 1998, becoming pregnant through artificial insemination
while her husband was behind walls.

Hernandez and wife Adriana’s baby was born January 6, just 20 days after
the three agents were released and returned to the island as part of the
bilateral rapprochement.

Source: US lawmakers, dissidents meet in Havana – Yahoo News –
http://news.yahoo.com/us-lawmakers-dissidents-meet-havana-031636346.html;_ylt=AwrBEiI88rxUDS4A51vQtDMD

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