Cuba Reiterates Offer to Swap Alan Gross for Three Cubans

After US and Taliban achieve prisoner exchange

Fernando González.  Foto: Ismael Francisco / Cubadebate.cu
Fernando González. Foto: Ismael Francisco / Cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — A virtual spokesperson for the Cuban government reiterated today the Castro administration’s willingness to swap US citizen Alan Gross for the three Cuban Five members still imprisoned in the USA.

His remarks came as the US and the Taliban made public an exchange that freed a US soldier in Afghanistan for the release to Qatar of Taliban militants held at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, reported dpa news.

“From the US perspective there is little to prevent a similar exchange,” said Fernando Gonzalez in Havana. Gonzalez is one of the two Cuban Five members released from prison in the US after serving out their term.

Gonzalez was arrested in 1998 along with four other Cubans as part of a larger spy ring in the United States. Of the remaining three prisoners, one, Gerardo Hernandez, has a double life sentence.

The government of Raul Castro has repeatedly offered to begin negotiations with the Obama administration on a possible exchange of their agents for Gross, imprisoned since 2009 for endangering Cuban national security. Thus far the US has refused to link the two cases.

On Saturday, the Obama administration announced the release of a soldier detained five years ago by the Taliban. He was reportedly the only US prisoner of war in Afghanistan. In return, Washington extradited five of its hapless Guantanamo prisoners to Qatar.

“This latest development” said González, “is proof that the only thing missing is the political will from Obama to resolve this situation,” after the release of the soldier Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

“My question is why not?” Gonzalez insisted in a press conference at the International Press Center of the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

“I’m optimistic,” he said of possible negotiations between Washington and Havana. At the same time, Gonzalez denied knowing about possible approaches. “I have no knowledge (of possible talks),” he said.

Alan Gross

Fernando Gonzalez returned in February of this year to Cuba after serving his sentence in the United States. Another Cuban Five member, Rene Gonzalez, returned to Cuba in May 2013.

The case of the Cuban Five, considered by many as national heroes at home, is one of the greatest obstacles to improving the difficult relations between Washington and Havana. Cuba promotes frequent international campaigns demanding their release. A new 5-day push to influence the White House to release the Cubans begins later this week, including a march to the White House on Saturday, June 7.

Alan Gross, 65, was arrested in December 2009 in Havana for smuggling illegal telecommunications equipment into Cuba and related activities. A court sentenced him to 15 years in prison on charges of encouraging “acts against the integrity” of the state.

Gross, a well paid employee of Development Alternatives Inc., a USAID contractor, denied the charges and said that the equipment was only designed to facilitate Internet access to the Jewish community in Cuba.


53 thoughts on “Cuba Reiterates Offer to Swap Alan Gross for Three Cubans

  • June 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm
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    Indeed. Gross was arrested in Cuba for breaking the law and should be expected to serve time there for it. US citizens should not be given special rights to escape justice.

  • June 10, 2014 at 10:09 am
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    Oh Moses you’re such a big baby Huey. I have things to do. I would love to just follow one (1) topic but it requires too much time when I can be reading about 10 current events topics (not just this one). Feel free to visit me and insult me at my site. 🙂 You’re always welcome – and bring Humbi along! The most enjoyable part of this site is to discuss them with you. And by the way, I’m not upset with Yoani. Now that I’ve read much more material, I realize they were all duped. She’ll be fine, she can well afford a brisk legal defense.

  • June 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm
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    Fair enough. If later we find out that he did not desert but was abducted while having been AWOL, I would hope that you are as forthright to admit you were wrong.

  • June 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm
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    My comment about executing the Taliban prisoners was not a recommendation for current policy. It was intended to provide historical context to those who decry the practice of holding them prisoner in the comfortable detention centre in Gitmo. It also serves to contrast Bush’s policy of capturing these men alive, and Obama’s policy of vaporizing them in drone attacks.

    I acknowledge the authority of the Commander-in-Chief to execute his policy in matters of war. However, he did agree to give Congress 30 days notice before releasing anybody from Gitmo, which he did not do in this case. It’s hard to see an urgent war-fighting reason to accept the necessity of Obama’s decision not to notify Congress. It has become clear that his primary motivation was to empty Gitmo, and that the Bergdahl deal was a convenient excuse. The released Taliban were not members of the Haqqani network and the Haqqani don’t want them back. They had to get something to induce them to give up Bergdahl. Money or weapons are the only currency they would recognize. The details of the deal keep getting worse and worse, and the excuses and lies which the White House puts out to cover up the deal collapse within hours.

    There are now reports of Stinger missiles showing up among Taliban and that these weapons have been traced back to the missiles the CIA provided to Qatar to distribute to the anti-Khadafy jihadis in Libya. Oops!

    http://nypost.com/2014/06/08/how-the-taliban-got-their-hands-on-modern-us-missiles/

    The Bergdahl deal has infuriated a large number of Americans in the military. This is not some sly GOP campaign to attack Obama. Patriotic soldiers are truly disgusted at the idea of giving up 5 top Taliban to get one deserter back and they are incensed that the search for this guy resulted in the deaths of several of their brothers in arms.

    Finally, you mistake a blog comment section for a court of law. I am free to pass my opinions of Bergdahl and based on what I have read, he deserted.

  • June 9, 2014 at 10:54 am
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    Hahaha! The truth smarts a little, doesn’t it. Okay, I can imagine the three keystrokes it would require to visit HT. (1) Favorites (2) HT (3) Disqus comments. Exhausting! Cheers

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