HAVANA -- The wife of a Cuban intelligence agent freed by the United States has given birth to a girl after a pregnancy made possible by negotiations to improve ties between the two countries.
The Communist Party daily Granma says the baby named Gema was born Tuesday and weighs 7 pounds and 1 ounce.
U.S. officials helped facilitate a process of artificial insemination so that convicted spy Gerardo Hernandez, who spent 16 years in jail, and his wife Adriana Perez could have a child. It came during talks that led the U.S. to release Hernandez and two other agents last month and the announcement of plans to restore normal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Cuba, meanwhile, freed imprisoned U.S. aid worker Alan Gross.
A top adviser to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said last month that the lawmaker helped arrange for Perez's artificial insemination, one of the stranger chapters of 18 months of back-channel negotiations that culminated with Washington and Havana's announcement they will resume diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of hostility.
Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Leahy, told The Associated Press that it all began with a February 2013 trip to Cuba by Leahy, who has visited the island multiple times since the early 1990s, met with both former and current presidents Fidel and Raul Castro and opposes the U.S. embargo.
Leahy and his wife, Marcelle Pomerleau, a registered nurse, met with Perez. At the time, Hernandez was still at a federal prison in Victorville, California, serving two life sentences on murder conspiracy and other charges. Cuba had complained repeatedly that the U.S. was denying her a visa to visit her husband.
"She made a personal appeal to Marcelle. She was afraid that she would never have the chance to have a child," Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate subcommittee on foreign appropriations, said in a statement. "As parents and grandparents we both wanted to try to help her."
Back home, Leahy's office began working with U.S. government officials. Conjugal visits are not allowed in the federal prison system, but there is precedent to use artificial insemination for an inmate, CBS News' Paula Reid reported.