Saturday, December 24, 2011
Cuba will pardon almost 3,000 prisoners - but Alan Gross will not be among them
A government spokesperson said that convicted American contractor Alan Gross, who has been jailed in Havana since December 2009 and about whom I have posted many times on this Blog, will not be among those freed. Gross was sentenced to 15 years after his March 2011 conviction for state security crimes.
In Washington today Judy Gross said that she and family members were "devastated" by the news that Alan will not be released. "Our family has a broken heart," she said. A State Dept. spokesperson noted that the United States was "profoundly saddened" by the news, and added, "We deplore that the Cuban government has not taken this opportunity to free Alan during the holidays. We will continue seeking his release and return to his family."
The Castro regime has made it clear that Gross will be released early, if and when the U.S. liberates the so-called Miami Five. The Five are Cuban agents who were arrested in 1998 and convicted of spying and other federal crimes. Four are still serving lengthy sentences, while the fifth, who was released from custody on October 7 after 13 years in prison, is required to complete a three year parole term in the U.S. President Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton have said that there will be no swap of the Cubans for Gross.
Cuba said yesterday that the prisoners to be granted early discharge include 13 women, persons over 60, inmates in poor health, those who have served a significant amount of their sentences and young prisoners who have no previous criminal record. Some 86 non-Cuban convicts from 25 nations are on the list of those scheduled to be released, and their respective nations have agreed to accept their return, the government said. Certain crimes are excluded from the amnesty, such as attempting to overthrow the Cuban state. Gross' case falls into the latter category, according to officials of the island nation.
Gross, 62, is a Maryland resident and is said to be in poor health. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter tried and failed earlier this year to secure his release, as did ex-New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. In recent weeks Gross, his wife Judy and other supporters have suggested in public statements that every alternative should be considered to free him, including a swap for the Miami Five, but the Obama administration has not budged. Some have speculated that Gross might still be freed when Pope Benedict visits Cuba in March, if for no other reason than to end a continuing diplomatic headache for the Castro regime.
What did Alan Gross actually do in Cuba?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/judy-gross-asks-president-obama-to.html.
Alan Gross y Los Cinco de Miami: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/alan-gross-y-los-cinco-de-miami.html.
Alan Gross supporters take their release crusade on the road: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/alan-gross-supporters-take-their.html.
U.S. double standard on prisoners hurts Alan Gross: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/us-shows-revolting-double-standard-in.html.
Papal visit to Cuba, Mexico announced for early 2012: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/vatican-announces-papal-visit-to-cuba.html.
at 12:29 PM