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U.S. In Talks With Cuba To Release Alan Gross

President Obama told news anchor Jorge Ramos yesterday on Fusion that the U.S. government has been in negotiations for some time to try and secure the release of Alan Gross. The government contractor has been held prisoner on the island after he was accused to distributing telecommunications devices to anti-Castro dissidents. The Cuban government then sentenced him to fifteen years in prison as a spy. Gross’ health has deteriorated since he was imprisoned five years ago. He has gone on repeated hunger strikes and has refused medical care from the Cuban government. Obama says,

“We’ve been in conversations about how we can get Alan Gross home for quite some time. We continue to be concerned about him. We think that he shouldn’t have been held in the first place. With respect to Cuba generally, I’ve made very clear that the policies that we have in making remittances easier for Cuban families, and making it easier for families to travel, have been helpful to people inside Cuba. But the Cuban government still needs to make significant changes.”

Our two nations have been in a state of detente with each other ever since the Castro government seized control of the island from the Batista regime in 1959. My family was intimately involved in the revolution, I had an uncle who was killed by Batista’s troops fighting under Che Guevara. Later my family took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion after it became clear that Castro was turning the island into a Communist country. Since then the two nations have been at each other’s throats and there seems to be no end in sight for the trade embargo. I’ve been to Cuba twice and I can tell you that the people there suffer doubly for both of our nation’s stubbornness. They suffer under the Castro’s brutal regime and due to the deprivations caused by our trade embargo. Perhaps if the two governments can work together to release Gross that will be a step towards ending this long conflict.

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