By Michael Pearson
Please, Mr. President, don't leave me behind.
That's the gist of former U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross' plea to President Barack Obama in a letter on the fourth anniversary of Gross' imprisonment in a small military prison cell in Cuba.
In the letter, Gross - convicted by a Cuban court of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state" - says he spends 23 hours a day in a small cell with two other inmates, is in poor health and is largely cut off from the outside world.
"With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me," wrote Gross, a former subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Officials in your administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home."FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Panama has formally asked the United States for technical help to inspect Cuban weapons found on board a North Korean freighter it seized.
"The government of Panama has requested our assistance, and we intend to provide it," Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said.
"Generally speaking, the types of technical assistance we could provide include things like identifying the material on board, as well as providing personnel who are familiar with these types of inspections," she said.
The Panamanians asked for imaging equipment and technicians to fully examine and determine what is on board, according to a U.S. official.
The official declined to be identified because the person is not authorized to speak publicly.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has publicly said he wants international inspectors to survey the ship's cargo.
Panamanian authorities seized a North Korean-flagged vessel with an undeclared haul of weaponry in the Panamanian port of Manzanillo on Monday night, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said.
Panama's security minister, Jose Raul Mulino, told CNN the ship had arrived from Cuba.
Panamanian authorities had received intelligence the ship was carrying drugs, but a search Monday revealed military equipment hidden among a cargo of brown sugar.
It was not immediately clear what sort of military equipment was found.FULL STORY
CNN's Phil Black chronicles the 30+ hour flight from Moscow to Havana in search of Edward Snowden.
By Jill Dougherty
Direct mail between the United States and Cuba was suspended 50 years ago.
Now the two countries have agreed to hold talks on reestablishing that service, but U.S. officials caution the discussions "are technical in nature" and do not indicate any change in policy toward Cuba.
Representatives from the State Department and the U.S. Postal Service will meet with Cuban officials in Washington this week to discuss the matter.
"The reason we're doing this is because it's of course good for the Cuban people," she said. "This is something we feel is good for us, but it's not meant to be a signal of anything or indicate a change in policy," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
By Jill Dougherty
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, will be granted a U.S. visa to attend a conference on lesbian and gay civil rights in Philadelphia in May, a U.S. official tells CNN.
Initially not expected to receive a visa, the official said the case was "looked at again" and "the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel" to the event on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Mariela Castro is the director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and the niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Although she is not gay, she has lobbied for gay rights in Cuba, including the right for same-sex couples to marry and for AIDS awareness.
By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy
The number inmates participating in a hunger strike at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has risen sharply in the past few weeks to include more than half of those held at the military-run facility.
Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman on detainee issues for the Pentagon, said on Monday the number stood at 84, up from just over 30 less than a month ago.
By Jill Dougherty
An American imprisoned in Cuba, along with his wife in the United States, is suing the U.S. government and the group for which he worked, citing what they call an "abject failure to advise, train and protect him."
Alan Gross, 63, has been held in a Cuban prison since December 2009. He was arrested for bringing in banned communications equipment as part of a State Department program to spread democracy and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The Grosses claim that both the U.S. government and the contractor, Development Alternatives Inc., based in Bethesda, Maryland, "failed to disclose adequately to Mr. Gross, both before and after he began traveling to Cuba, the material risks that he faced due to his participation in the project."
The suit also charges that the State Department and DAI failed to provide him with education and training that were necessary to minimize the risk of harm to him, and should have delayed the project "until the risks subsided."
By Patrick Oppmann, reporting from Cuba
Fifty years ago, 15-year-old Omar Lopez knew a secret that governments around the world would have killed to learn or safeguard: Soviet troops were building hidden military installations in Cuba.
One of those installations was on the farm where his family raised chickens and pigs.
In 1962, Fidel Castro's revolution was just beginning to reshape Cuba. Thousands of Cubans had fled the country, and the year before, Castro's troops had routed a U.S.-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs.
But little of the drama of those times reached the remote Lopez farm in western Cuba, where palm trees vastly outnumber human residents.
By Charles Riley
ING Bank has agreed to pay a $619 million penalty for moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system at the behest of Cuban and Iranian clients, acts that violated economic sanctions.
In addition, the Dutch bank admitted to falsifying the records of New York financial institutions, according to the Manhattan District Attorney, who was joined by the Department of Justice in announcing Tuesday's settlement.