Desires for normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba often seem hopeless.
Today’s news offers two new reasons for hope for such a day.
Roots of Hope or Raices de Esperanza is a Miami-based non-profit network of more than 3,000 students and young professionals across the U.S. and abroad focused on empowering Cuban youth. They seek to inspire young people to care about Cuba, think outside the box and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means. They hope to make a positive impact on Cuba through academic and cultural initiatives guided by three basic principles: amor, amistad y esperanza (love, friendship and hope).
The group’s current projects are (a) to provide young people in Cuba with refurbished cellular phones; (b) to publish the Ex(CHANGE) Guide that outlines different ways young people outside of Cuba can connect with young people on the island; and (c) to host an annual national youth leadership conference of diverse Cuban, Cuban-American and Cuba-loving young leaders.
The other news providing hope were remarks yesterday in New York City by Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, to the U.N. General Assembly and to the editors and reporters of the New York Times.
Rodriguez reiterated his government’s willingness and interest in moving towards normalization of relations with the U.S. One way to make progress on this overall goal was to focus on problems where, he thought, both countries had an interest in negotiating cooperation agreements. These included drug-trafficking, terrorism, human smuggling, preventing and responding to natural disasters and protecting the environment.
The Foreign Minister said the U.S.’ continued imprisonment of five Cubans (known as “The Cuban Five” in the U.S. and “The Miami Five” in Cuba) was “inhumane” and called for the U.S. to release them and allow them to return to Cuba.
Cuba’s imprisonment of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, the Foreign Minister said, was not linked to The Cuban Five, but he hinted otherwise. He said, “I do not see any way in which we can move on towards a solution of the Mr. Gross case but from a humanitarian point of view and on the basis of reciprocity.”
The time is ripe, President Obama. Commute the sentences of the Cuban Five and allow them to return to their homes on the island. Cuba has virtually committed to respond with its release of Alan Gross.
 See Post: The Ridiculous U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (May 20, 2011); Post: U.S. Repeats Its Ridiculous Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (Aug. 21, 2011); Post: The U.S. Should Pursue Reconciliation with Cuba (May 21, 2011); Post: Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies”
(Sept, 24, 2011).
 Associated Press, Cuba Seeks Normalization With US, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011); Archibold, Cuban Minister Leaves a Door Open to American’s Release, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011).
 Id.; Post: Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies” (Sept, 24, 2011).
 See n.4.