Miami 5 party

Cuba–U.S. relations took a historic turn on Dec. 17, when three Cuban political prisoners — unjustly held by the United States for more than 15 years — were released, and the White House announced numerous policy shifts.

President Barack Obama admitted that his country's half century attempt to defeat Cuba had failed.

Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina, and Antonio Guerrero — the three remaining imprisoned members of the renowned Cuban Five — had been incarcerated in the United States since 1998.

Accused of espionage, the three were detained during an attempt to uncover terrorist plots against the people of Cuba being masterminded by extremists in Florida.

The liberation of the three Cubans came as part of a prisoner swap, which included the release of a U.S. intelligence agent held by Havana.

Seperately, Alan Gross, a U.S. State department subcontractor, convicted of subversion in Cuba after attempting to create communication networks to destabilize the government, was released on humanitarian grounds.

During a televised speech, U.S. President Barack Obama announced policies moving towards a normalizing of relations with the Carribbean island; the two countries will open embassies.

And while a complete end to the economic blockade of the island was not announced, Obama spoke of re-establishing high-level diplomatic ties as well, as easing economic and travel restrictions that have been imposed on Cuba.

Obama said a full end to the blockade would be discussed with Congress, but as Cuban President Raul Castro said, it is time for Obama to go the whole way and lift the inhumane blockade.