Richardson Leaves Cuba, Alan Gross Stays

September 15, 2011 | Print Print |

by Circles Robinson

Photo: Chris Lewis

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 15 — Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson returned to the US on Wednesday after leaving Cuba empty handed in his attempt to secure the release of Alan Gross, 62, who is serving a 15-year sentence for serious crimes against the Cuban state.

Richardson had said he had been invited to Cuba to discuss the Gross case but he wasn’t allowed to even see the US citizen.

However Cuban Communist Party official Josefina Vidal told AP that Richardson had never been invited to come to Cuba for such purposes.

Vidal accused Richardson of “blackmail” and “slander” in an interview with AP:  “His request to see the prisoner … became impossible due to his slanderous statements to the press in which he described Gross as a ‘hostage’ of the Cuban government,” Vidal said. Richardson made the comment last Thursday after he said his demand to see Gross was rebuffed.

“Even before he had met with a single Cuban official the media fallout and the speculation had begun,” she said. Vidal insisted to AP that no Cuban official ever led Richardson to believe he would leave the island with Gross.

“The release of the North American prisoner Alan Gross was never on the table,” she said, adding that Cuba was caught by surprise when word of Richardson’s visit was leaked amid news reports that he was coming to take Gross home.”

The weeklong visit by Richardson to Havana was not covered by the Cuban press.

 

 


What's your opinion?

  • Sherri Hoban

    Why is it that Cubans held in American prisons are prisoners, but Americans held in Cuban prisons are “hotages”?? Such arrogance from the Americans…

  • Humberto Capiro (El Cibergues@)

    CBS NEWS : Richardson aide says Cuba backtracked on American – Paul Haven

    HAVANA — A top aide to Bill Richardson said Thursday the former New Mexico governor held a series of meetings with Cuban officials over more than a year about the fate of a jailed U.S. subcontractor, and was left with no doubt the Cubans were ready to discuss releasing him.

    Gilbert Gallegos, who accompanied Richardson on a failed trip to Havana to try to win Alan Gross’ release, told The Associated Press that the Cubans suggested they come. And he said they made clear they “were ready to negotiate.”

    Gallegos said Richardson first brought up Gross’ plight during an August 2010 visit to Havana in which he met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. The two spoke again about Gross the next month in New York on the sideline of the U.N. General Assembly, Gallegos said, a meeting that had never been previously disclosed.

    Then on June 20 of this year, Richardson got a call from Jorge Bolanos, Cuba’s top diplomat in Washington, who asked him to come over to the Cuban mission.

    There, Bolanos read Richardson a diplomatic note that “basically said that after the judicial process ended the Cubans were ready to talk to him about Gross,” Gallegos said.

    On July 22, Richardson had a phone conversation with the Cuban diplomat. Bolanos, who was in Cuba at the time, said that the judicial process against Gross would soon be over and that they could then proceed with the talks. They spoke on the same day that Gross made his final appeal to the Supreme Court.

    Richardson suggested he come in August, but Bolanos told him to hold off until Sept. 1. The Supreme Court made its final ruling Aug. 5.

    Gallegos said the two men spoke again July 26, at which point Richardson proposed a Sept. 7 trip, which is when he came. On Aug. 10, Richardson had lunch with Bolanos at the Cuban diplomat’s residence in Washington. Bolanos told Richardson he would meet Bruno Rodriguez in Havana, and implied that negotiations would ensue.

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