Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. works to release prisoners in Cuba and Colombia

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. works to release prisoners in Cuba and Colombia
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is working on diplomacy in Latin America.

Jackson was in Cuba over the weekend at the invitation of the Catholic Church, and he also hoped to meet with an American man, Alan Gross, who was imprisoned by the Cuban government, according to Essence.

Gross, 64, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for installing satellite Internet networks in Cuba, where freedom of the press and Internet access are not available to the public at large.

While in Cuba, Jackson  was invited to go to Colombia by the FARC rebels and help secure the release of a former U.S. Marine kidnapped by them while hiking in that country. But Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Tweeted his opposition to the idea, according to NBC News.

"Only the Red Cross will be authorized to facilitate the handover of the North American kidnapped by the FARC," the Colombian president Tweeted in Spanish. "We will not allow a media spectacle."

Jackson had just traveled to Colombia to attend a conference of mayors and government officials of African descent.

There Jackson spoke of the legacy of slavery in Latin America.

"We in the U.S. don’t fully appreciate that there are more Africans in South, Central and Latin America, than in the USA.The slave trade started through this region; the U.S. was the caboose," Jackson said in a speech posted on his website.

While so much attention is focused on Middle East policy, it is good to see a U.S. leader bring his message for equality and democracy to Latin America.

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