Former President Jimmy Carter greets people during his visit to Belen convent in Havana, Cuba, March 29, 2011.
News Americas, Havana, Cuba, Weds. Mar. 30, 2011: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will wrap up his trip to Cuba today with a meeting with several members of Cuba’s internal opposition.
Carter, on his second visit to Cuba since 2002, is set to meet with ex-political prisoners and critics like blogger Yoani Sanchez. Among those slated for a face-to-face with the former head of state are Osvaldo Paya, 2002 recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, and the spokesman for the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez; ex-political prisoners of the Group of 75, released in recent weeks, and the Ladies in White.
On Tuesday Carter met with President Raul Castro for what aides said was a discussion of the ambitious reforms that Castro has proposed to fix an all but bankrupt economy. The former President said his wish is to be able to contribute to improving ties between Cuba and the United States. Both sides have been in conflict for more than 50 years.
But Carter insisted he was not in Cuba to take former U.S. contractor, Alan Gross, out of prison. Gross was recently sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison for taking part in “subversive plans” against Cuba, a case that has become a new source of tension.
The 86-year-old Carter is the most senior U.S. politician to set foot on the island since the triumph of the 1959 revolution.