HAVANA, 7 January The seeds of U.S.-Cuba diplomacy have born fruit. The wife of a Cuban spy freed by the United States three weeks ago gave birth to a baby daughter in Havana on Tuesday, the result of efforts to bring about a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations that included an unusual case of artificial insemination.
Adriana Perez, the 44-year-old wife of convicted spy Gerardo Hernandez, gave birth to a 7.7-pound baby girl in Havana. “At 8:30 this morning, Jan. 6, Gema Hernandez Perez, the daughter of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo y Adriana Perez O’Connor, was born in Havana,” the website of Cubadebate.cu announced.
It said Hernandez, who served more than 16 years in a U.S. prison before his release Dec. 17 as part of a prisoner swap, said his daughter “was very pretty.” The tale of the artificial insemination may go down in the annals of spycraft and diplomacy as one of its most unusual chapters. Hernandez was serving two life sentences in a federal prison in California for leading the Wasp Network of Cuban spies when his wife, also a member of the Cuban intelligence community, approached U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and expressed feared that she was nearing the end of her fertile years without children.
According to Leahy, Perez made a personal appeal that her husband’s sperm be brought to her in Havana. Leahy worked with the Obama administration to arrange the artificial insemination. On the second attempt, Perez became pregnant. When Hernandez and two other convicted Cuban spies touched down in Havana Dec. 17, his very pregnant wife greeted him, setting tongues wagging over the child’s paternity.
Then U.S. officials acknowledged their role in the pregnancy. In exchange for the three Cuban spies, Havana released a jailed Cuban intelligence asset of the United States, later identified as Rolando Sarraff. It also freed Alan Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development who had been jailed for five years.
The same day of the prisoner swap, President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced that they would renew diplomatic relations that the United States severed in 1961.