By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, March 30 — Cuba’s prize winning blogger, Yoani Sanchez, took part in a meeting Wednesday morning in Havana with former US President Jimmy Carter. Other dissidents also attended.
On behalf of a group of bloggers and individuals of civil society, Sanchez gave Carter products made with peanuts in the different ways they are sold in Cuba. She highlighted that peanuts are a small example of one of the few products sold for decades by self-employed workers on the island.
The meeting took place at the Santa Isabel Hotel in Old Havana. No other details of what was said have been released. Carter is expected to give a press conference before concluding his three-day visit to Cuba later Wednesday.
The former US president arrived in Cuba on Monday with his wife Rosalynn to learn first-hand of the economic changes occurring on the island as well as the political climate nine years since his first visit in 2002.
Carter is the only US president- in or out of office – to visit the island.
After the meeting with the dissidents Carter said he planned to meet as well with Alan Gross, an imprisoned US citizen, on Wednesday.
Gross, who works for Development Alternatives Inc, was sentenced recently to 15 years in prison by a Havana court for “Actions Against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State,” considered a very serious crime.
The Maryland resident was caught distributing illegal telecommunications equipment which the US State Dept. claimed was just humanitarian aid. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made the Gross case her top issue in US-Cuba relations, which have not improved substantially as some expected they would under President Obama.
Carter maintains as a focus of his trip to Cuba trying to promote better relations between the US and the neighboring Caribbean country.
Successive US governments have maintained a half-century economic blockade on Cuba. Those administrations have also prohibited ordinary US citizens from visiting the island without special US Treasury Dept. permission.