New just in: The Cuban government has stated that it will release 2,900 prisoners, including some convicted of political activity, within the next few days.
The BBC have reported that the Cuban government (through the Council of State) have announced that almost 3,000 prisoners will be released. The Cuban government claim that this is a goodwill gesture.
The prisoners selected for release are those whose families have put in numerous appeals or where extensive lobbying has been carried put by religious institutions. Many of the prisoners being released are said to be unwell, women or elderly. Reuters speculates that many of the releases are tied to Pope Benedict XVI's scheduled visit to the island next year. The government previously released more than a 100 political prisoners in a deal brokered by the Catholic Church in 2010
Although Raul Castro has given the go-ahead for the release, which is in keeping with his recent leaning towards liberalization of the Cuban society and attempting to cement better relationships with Western governments, the US has noted that few of those set to be released are political prisoners.
In particular, US national Alan Gross, convicted of crimes against the state, is not on the list. World Watch notes that Gross has only served two years of his 15 years sentence for crimes against the state. Gross was imprisioned in 2009 and the case has led to a diplomatic freeze between Washington and Havana.
Aside from Gross, the move is a further indication of the change occurring within Cuba since Fidel Castro stood down and passed over the presidency to his brother Raul.