President Raul Castro
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Cuba's Castro to release prisoners as goodwill gesture

24 December 2011 Last updated at 08:56 GMT

Cuba says it will release 2,900 prisoners, including some convicted of political crimes, in the next few days.

President Raul Castro said the move was a goodwill gesture after receiving numerous requests by relatives and religious institutions. But US national Alan Gross, who is serving 15 years for crimes against the state, is not among those to be freed.

President Castro also cited an upcoming visit by Pope Benedict XVI among the reasons for the amnesty, saying the humanitarian act showed Cuba's strength.

Mark Lobel reports.