by Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Dec 27 — When 2011 comes to an end this week, US-AID “sub-contractor” (agent) Alan Gross will spend his third consecutive New Years in a Cuban prison for his role in Washington’s program to promote regime change in Cuba.
Cuban president Raul Castro announced on Friday the release of over 2,900 mostly common criminals as an end-of-the-year gesture of clemency by his government.
Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence for smuggling illegal communications equipment into Cuba, was not among those receiving the good news.
The US State Department maintains that Gross was doing no wrong in sneaking in illegal satellite communications equipment into Cuba and that he should be pardoned for humanitarian reasons.
Gross, 62, was admittedly working for Development Alternatives Inc., which has benefitted from several multi-million dollar government contracts from US-AID in hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq.
The U.S. State Department said it was disappointed with the exclusion of Gross from the list of pardoned prisoners. “We are deeply disappointed and deplore the fact that the Cuban government has decided not to take this opportunity to extend this humanitarian release to Mr. Gross this holiday season, especially in light of his deteriorating health, and to put an end to the Gross family’s long plight,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Saturday, reported JTA.
To date, the only slim hope mentioned for Gross to return to his Maryland home in the foreseeable future appears to be a difficult negotiation involving the Cuban Five.
The members of this group of Cuban government agents have served over 13 years in US prisons for having worked for their government to infiltrate Miami-based Cuban-American exile organizations with a history of terrorist attacks against Cuba and its interests abroad. (One, Rene Gonzalez, was released last October on parole but is being prohibited from returning to his wife and family in Cuba for three more years.)
The Cuban government maintains that the Cuban Five — convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and other crimes — were only monitoring the terrorist groups that have operated for decades with the US government’s consent and were not spying on any US military installations.