3 Freed Spies Get Heroes' Welcome in Cuba
Still no sign of Fidel in wake of US deal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2014 1:11 PM CST
Antonio Guerrero, left, and Ramon Labanino, two of the three Cubans released under a prisoners swap agreement with the U.S. on Wednesday, sing with Fernando Gonzalez, a fellow member of "The Cuban Five"...   (Ismael Francisco)
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(Newser) – Three men who served long US prison terms for spying received a standing ovation in Cuba's parliament today, shaking their fists in victory as President Raul Castro declared that detente with Washington won't change the communist system he leads. The last imprisoned members of the "Cuban Five" spy ring were freed this week in a sweeping deal that included the liberation of American contractor Alan Gross and a Cuban spy for the US from their jail cells in Cuba, and pledges to restore full diplomatic relations between the two nations. President Obama says the changes are designed to encourage reform in Cuba's one-party system and centrally planned economy. Castro rejected that idea in his address to the twice-annual meeting of the National Assembly,

"We must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for," he said. Castro expressed gratitude to Obama for the "just decision" to release the men who spied on anti-Castro exile groups in South Florida in the 1990s and have long been regarded as heroes in Cuba. Seated behind the three and their families was Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban rafter at the center of a bitter custody battle in 2000 between relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba. The president closed his speech with "Viva Fidel!" in reference to his older brother, who has not been seen nor heard from since the historic development was announced on Wednesday.
 

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