President Barack Obama announced a major change in United States' policy toward Cuba this week. He said he wants Congress to ease more than 50 years of U.S. sanctions against the island nation. And he said the two nations should once again formally recognize one another.

    "I've instructed Secretary (of State John) Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since January of 1961."

    Mr. Obama said he also wants to see the easing of restrictions on banking, business activities and travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. And representatives of the two countries will meet to talk about reopening the U.S. embassy in Havana.

    The surprising announcement was made as Cuba released Alan Gross, an American citizen who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross was arrested in Havana in 2009 and charged with bringing communications equipment to Cuba. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
    这一意外声明是因为古巴释放了就职于美国国际开发署的美国公民艾伦·格罗斯(Alan Gross)。格罗斯先生于2009年在哈瓦那被捕,并被控携带通信设备到古巴。他被判处15年徒刑。

    President Obama said Mr. Gross was returning home as part of a prisoner exchange with the Cuban government. He said Mr. Gross and a man described as "one of the most important (U.S.) intelligence agents" were exchanged for three Cuban spies. The three were said to have spent more than 10 years in U.S. prisons.

    In Cuba, President Raul Castro spoke to the nation. He praised Mr. Obama's move to normalize relations.
    古巴总统劳尔·卡斯特罗(Raul Castro)向全国发表了讲话。他赞扬了奥巴马先生实现两国关系正常化的举动。

    He said "This decision by President Obama deserves the respect and recognition of our people."

    The announcement that the two countries would normalize relations followed more than a year of secret talks between the two long-time enemies. Canadian officials and Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, also took part in the discussions. The pope expressed his "warm congratulations" on the re-establishment of diplomatic ties.

    One opinion survey found that Americans are generally supportive of the change in policy. Many agreed with President Obama that the sanctions against Cuba have failed to help U.S. interests. Some of the measures have lasted more than half a century. To cancel the restrictions, the president needs approval from the United States Congress. When Congress begins debating the issue next year, it will be controlled by Republicans, who generally oppose the policies of President Obama, who is a Democrat.

    Critics of the decision say improving relations with Cuba will be a sign of support for the country's government. One of those critics is Marco Rubio, a United States Senator from Florida. Mr. Rubio is a Cuban-American and a member of the Republican Party. He reacted quickly and strongly to the announcement.
    这一决定的批评者认为,改善与古巴的关系将会是支持该国政府的一个标志。马可·卢比奥(Marco Rubio)是这些批评者之一,他是来自佛罗里达州的美国参议员。卢比奥先生是古巴裔美国人,也是共和党人。他立马强烈反对这一公告。

    "This president is the single worst negotiator we've had in the White House in my lifetime -- who has basically given the Cuban government everything it asked for and received no assurances of any advances in democracy and freedom in return."

    Many Cubans fled to the United States in the years after Fidel Castro came to power. Some of those who fled have long supported a policy of separating Cuba from the rest of the world. They approved of actions against Cuban officials and travel bans, even if it meant their family members could not return to Cuba.
    在菲德尔·卡斯特罗(Fidel Castro)上台后的那些年,很多古巴人逃到了美国。其中一些人长期支持将古巴从世界隔绝的政策。他们批准了针对古巴官员的措施以及旅行禁令,即使这意味着他们的家庭成员无法回到古巴。

    I'm Christopher Cruise.
    我是克里斯托弗·克鲁斯(Christopher Cruise)。(51VOA.COM对本文翻译保留全部权利,未经授权请勿转载,违者必究!)