In a diplomatic debacle, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson was expected
to leave Cuba on Wednesday without meeting jailed Jewish- American Alan
The governor, who traveled to Havana to try and secure Gross’s
release from prison, where he has been kept for almost two years, said he would
probably not be allowed access to the prisoner before his departure.
Petition launches to free Alan Gross from Cuba
have been here a week and tried through all means – with religious institutions,
diplomats from other countries, all kinds of efforts - and I see that this isn’t
going to change,” Richardson told reporters. “So why would I stay?” Hopes had
been raised that Cuba might free Gross after Richardson arrived in the Cuban
capital last week at the behest of local authorities.
request to meet with Gross – who is being held at a military hospital – were
repeatedly rebuffed by the government of Raul Castro.
Earlier in the year
Gross was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison for undermining the
state by bringing in satellite phones to Cuba without permission. In his
defense, Gross, who was sent to Cuba by USAID, a relief group, said the phones
were intended to be used to set up a communications center for the local Jewish
His family issued a statement on Tuesday in response to news
that Richardson would return to the US empty-handed saying they were very
disappointed with the outcome.
“The Gross family is heartbroken to learn
that governor Richardson’s efforts to reunite the family have been rebuffed by
the Cuban government,” said lawyer Peter Kahn on behalf of the
“They are greatly troubled by the fact that the governor was
invited to Havana to discuss Alan’s case, only to be turned away and not even
allowed to visit Alan. The family fears that the governor’s inability to see
Alan may be related to Alan’s deteriorating health, as in the past others have
been permitted to see Alan when visiting Cuba.”