Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alan Gross Freed Amid Historic U.S.-Cuba Rapprochement

Cuban authorities freed imprisoned U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross on a day when the leaders of both countries vowed to improve bilateral relations.
The sixty-five-year old was released on humanitarian grounds as part of a prisoner exchange that also included an unnamed U.S. intel agent. Three convicted Cuban spies were let out of prison as part of a purported deal between the U.S. and Cuba. 

Gross was detained in 2009 on charges of spying and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His detention served as one of the main points of diplomatic tension in recent years between Washington and Havana. 

"What a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country," exclaimed a relieved Gross in a press conference from Andres Air Force Base.

"Today is the first day of Hanukkah, and so far it's the best Hanukkah that I’ll be celebrating for a long time," added Gross who also thanked all those who helped secure his release.
Cuban-American Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio heavily criticized the prisoner swap as well as the Obama administration's push to reestablish diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba.  For Gross, however, the White House's actions were the correct actions to take:

Speaking after his release, Gross called the majority of Cuban nationals "incredibly kind, generous and talented."

“In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected,” he said. "It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments’ mutually belligerent policies.”

He also praised the sudden breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the countries.

“This is a game changer which I fully support,” he said of Obama's speech.
Online Sources - Voice of America; The Huffington Post  

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