Representing the US was undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affiars Edward Alex Lee, who visited Alan Gross at the military hospital where he is serving a 15 year sentence for endangering the Cuban state.
Lee did not reveal the content of his conversation with Gross, saying it was a private visit. He added that during the talks on Thursday the Cuban delegation brought up the issue of the four Cuban spies serving long sentences in the US, noted Café Fuerte.
“We continue to be profoundly concerned about his wellbeing,” said Lee about Gross. The agent was arrested in 2009 while working on one of the USAID funded regime change programs in Cuba. His smuggling illegal telecommunications equipment into Cuba to set up independent Internet networks had brought the Maryland resident a hefty salary from Development Alternatives Inc, the contractor.
Recently Gross’s wife Judy called into question the sincerity of the US government effort to obtain her husband’s freedom. In a recent protest held in front of the White House, she called for good faith negotiations instead of ineffective mandates from Washington.
Judy criticized the US State Department’s repeated demand for the immediate, unconditional release of Gross saying that this tact has gotten them nowhere for the past four years and if the U.S. government does not drop the, unconditionally,” this will be a death sentence for Alan.” She pleaded: “Please Mr. President don’t leave Alan to die in Cuba.”
While the Obama administration continues to call for Gross’s release without conditions, Havana has proposed a negotiation that would involve the release of four Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in the US since 1998.
Falsification of documents
Another issue discussed on Thursday was the falsification of consular documents by hundreds of persons trying to obtain US residency (easy for Cubans but much more difficult for other nationals), notes Café Fuerte.
The two countries have been working together for years regarding the verification of birth certificates that are usually presented to US immigration authorities by persons seeking legal status and fast track permanent residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Meanwhile, a note from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said the Cuban delegation insisted once again on the fact that illegal unsafe migration “would not be eradicated nor there could be a legal, safe and orderly migration as long as the wet foot/dry foot policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act are not derogated, for these are the main encouragement to illegal departures and irregular arrivals of Cuban citizens in the US territory.”
According to undersecretary Lee, the talks took place in a “respectful and contractive” atmosphere.
The next round of bilateral talks on migration issues are planned for this summer in Washington.