Friday, September 25, 2020

American Alan Gross Released from Cuban Prison After Five Years

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After five years in a Cuban Prison, American Alan Gross was released today following a year of intense negotiations to bring Gross back to the United States.  His imprisonment has been a considerable barrier for U.S. officials working to improve relations with Cuba but his release is expected to alleviate some of the tension and conflict that has long marred dialogues between the U.S. and Cuba.

Just last week, President Obama told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that his administration was actively working to ensure Gross’ safe return to the U.S.  In a statement regarding Gross’ release, President Obama said, “The Cuban Government’s release of Alan on humanitarian grounds would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the U.S. and Cuba.”

The decision to release Gross came as a surprise to many, but Cuba ultimately agreed to release Gross on humanitarian groups and three Cubans held in the U.S. will be released of part of the brokered prisoner exchange. In 2009, while working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development to set up Internet access in Jewish communities, Gross was detained by Cuban authorities. Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly trying to illegally undermine the Cuban government through his work.

Although relations between Cuba and the U.S. are far from normalized, President Obama noted that, “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.”

The Huffington Post