Joe Biden Gives Interview to Cuba's First Independent Digital News Site
A week ago Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez launched 14yMedio, the first independent online media outlet in Cuba. Today it published its first big "get": An interview with Vice President Joe Biden.
The chat follows a 2009 interview President Barack Obama gave to Sanchez that was posted on her blog Generación Y. Biden essentially reiterated many of the previously held positions and answers of his boss, but also called for the release of American prisoner Alan Gross.
Gross, who was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was arrested and convicted in 2011 for sneaking satellite communication devices into the island. He continues to sit in Cuban jail, and, according to statements made through his lawyer, he seems disillusioned with the American and Cuban governments.
"I cannot emphasize enough that Cuba's continued detention of Alan Gross is a major impediment to improved relations between the United States and Cuba," Biden said at the very end of the interview.
"We can be as creative as we like with our policy, but Alan's case remains at the top of our list for resolution. He deserves to come home, and should be released on humanitarian grounds."
Biden also took the opportunity to dispel the notion often promoted by the Cuban government that America has imminent plans to invade Cuba and overthrow the Castro regime.
"I can give you the simplest of answers, and that answer is no. Just as President Obama said," he said.
"We support the development of a prosperous, secure and democratic Cuba and continue to support the brave Cubans who seek to exercise their freedoms. Our position is clear: only Cubans can or should determine the future of Cuba. These accusations are a relic of a distant past. They are being used to strike fear into the hearts of decent Cubans to divert your attention from the problems closer to home. The Cuban people deserve more honesty from their government."
Sanchez launched 14yMedio last week as an alternative to the other news outlets on the island, which are controlled by the government. The site was blocked in Cuba shortly after it launched, but as of this week appears to have been unblocked.
Still, access to the Internet is still rare for many Cubans. Many can only access the Internet by using satellite phones and cell phones (like those Gross is accused of providing), though Cuba's state telephone company has announced it will begin offering in-home Internet service sometime this year.
Sanchez's interview with Biden took place in April while she was visiting Washington.