Barack Obama should use his powers as President of the United States and pardon the three Cubans that are still imprisoned. This will have the immediate effect of freeing Alan Gross and improving relations between Washington and Havana.
The pieces are in place. Will the U.S. and Cuba play them? The fourth anniversary of the imprisonment of Alan Gross marked a fundamental shift in discourse which provides President Obama with the moral and political space to negotiate with Cuba for his release.
Declaring that Cuban President Raul Castro wants a better relationship with the United States, Senator Patrick Leahy called Tuesday for a new U.S.-Cuba policy based on what he called "ice cream diplomacy."
Supporters of Alan Gross, the 62-year-old aid worker jailed three years ago by Cuba for handing out Internet equipment, called Friday on the U.S. government to send a high-level envoy to Havana and seek release of the ailing humanitarian worker.
Benedict is not the champion of social justice that Pope John was. But now Benedict has the opportunity to show his compassion. After calling for the release of Alan Gross, he should likewise call on Obama to release the rest of the Cuban Five.
The way may be opening for increased U.S.-Cuban ties. The United States has removed all restrictions on Cuban-American travel from the U.S. to Cuba and all limitations on Cuban-American remittances to families on the island.