Short answer: Diplomacy.
One of the Cuban prisoners exchanged as part of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba is Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of a Cuban spy ring, who, up until last week, was serving a life sentence in a California federal prison. His return home was aired on State TV, and people noticed right away as he embraced his wife Adriana Perez that she looked very pregnant. The woman had not seen her husband in over a decade, so what exactly happened there?
KIDDING. I'M JUST KIDDING. Turn that blasted music off.
Hernandez was serving a double life sentence after his 2001 conviction of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder—he was one of the Cuban Five, five intelligence officers sent to the US by the Cuban government to infiltrate and observe anti-Castro Cuban exile groups in Florida. He was convicted for attempting to infiltrate two US military bases in Florida. And he was also convicted for involvement (though his role has been contested) in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down in 1996, in which two civilian planes attempting to distribute anti-Cuban government pamphlets was shot down in international airspace by Cuban Air Force MIGs, killing four Cuban Americans.
His wife Perez, who also worked for Cuban intelligence, was prohibited from seeing her husband in prison for the past 16 years, and yet, all of Cuba saw on state television last Wednesday, that she was about to pop. Naturally, rumors surrounding the pregnancy took two forms: either someone else was the father or perhaps a secret conjugal visit had been arranged. Well, Hernandez himself addressed his wife's pregnancy, as CNN reports:
"Everyone's asking, and we have had a lot of fun with the comments and speculations. The reality is it had to be kept quiet," Hernandez told the government-run television channel. "We can't give a lot of details, because we don't want to hurt people who meant well."
He said his wife's pregnancy was a direct result of the high-level talks.
"One of the first things accomplished by this process was this," Hernandez said, gesturing to his Perez's stomach. "I had to do it by 'remote control,' but everything turned out well."
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Remote control? So he impregnated his wife with a drone? Some type of Curiosity Rover baster? According to CNN, two sources who were somehow involved in the talks explained that during the 18-month secret negotiation period, Hernandez's sperm was collected and sent to Cuba, and Perez was artificially inseminated with it.
This was done in exchange for better conditions for Alan Gross, a USAID contractor imprisoned in Cuba after being detained in 2009 for smuggling "sophisticated telecommunications equipment" into/installing internet in the country as part of a covert operation. The expectation was that Hernandez would die in prison—"This was [Perez's] only chance of having a child," Tim Reiser, an aide to Senator Leahy told CNN.
"We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs. Hernandez's request to have a baby with her husband," [US Justice Department] spokesman Brian Fallon said.
"In light of Mr. Hernandez's two life sentences," Fallon said, "the request was passed along by Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr. Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba."
Hernandez and Perez are expecting a baby girl in about two weeks, and they plan to name her Gema.
Image via AP.