Whitehouse announces the release of 53 political prisoners in Cuba

Karen DeYoung ---- The Washington Post 

All 53 political prisoners Cuba pledged to release as part of a normalization agreement with the United States have now been freed, a senior Obama administration official said Monday.

“We welcome this very positive development and are pleased that the Cuban government followed through on this commitment,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of an official U.S. statement. “Our Interests Section in Havana was able to verify these releases.”

The announcement came as Pope Francis, who was instrumental in forging the accord between the two countries to reestablish diplomatic relations, broke his official silence over the historic overtures after more than 50 years of Cold War-era estrangement.

Speaking to a group of diplomats at the Vatican, the Pope said that “an example of how dialogue can build bridges is the recent decision of the United States and Cuba to end a reciprocal silence that lasted a half-century and draw near to each other for the good of their citizens.”

At a political event In Kentucky, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, praised Cuba’s move as “heartening” to the families of the former prisoners, the Associated Press reported.

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