Cuba: Bill Richardson denied access to Alan Gross

Hopes cool for freedom of American jailed in Cuba

Hopes that a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba might soon be freed were dashed when former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said the Cuban government refused to let him meet with the prisoner.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Richardson described 62-year-old Alan Gross as an “American hostage.” He said he would not leave the island until he was allowed to see him at a military hospital where he is being held.

“My mission here as a private citizen is to secure the release of Alan Gross, an American hostage,” Richardson said late Thursday. “I’ve been informed by the Cuban government that I would not be allowed to see Alan Gross during my visit.”

Richardson said that he had been scheduled to depart Saturday, but that he told Cuban officials he would not leave until he was granted a meeting with Gross.

“I promised his wife, Judy, that I would see him,” the governor said.

It was not clear whether he had any further meetings scheduled Friday.

This is not Richardson’s first trip to Cuba on Gross’ behalf; last year he went on a similar mission in August of 2010 and came back with no results, either.

My question is, why is a former Cabinet member of the current administration doing these trips? Apparently (I’m not totally clear on this – why invite him, just to deny him access to Gross?) the Cuban government invited him this time, and yes, back when he was a Congressman, Richardson secured the release of three political prisoners.

That was in 1996.

It’s not the same to have a former Congressman, a former Cabinet member, to try this sort of negotiation; it’s just a matter of time before the Cuban regime makes Richardson leave.

The question now is, Will Cuba’s Dissidents Save Alan Gross? Capitol Hill Cubans have an interesting take.

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