HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 16 — The detention in Cuba of US agent Alan Gross is an obstacle to attempt to improve what could be more than a dialogue between countries, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela affirmed. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and remains in prison accused of espionage, noted IPS.
The Cuban government, for its part, has said that the imprisonment of the Cuban Five in US jails since 1998 —accused of conspiracy to spy and other charges— is an obstacle to truly normalized relations.
The US maintains a half century economic blocade on Cuba and also prohibits its citizens from visiting the neighboring island nation without a special Treasury Dept. license. Bills to lift the travel ban and soften the blockade have not made it beyond House of Representatives and Senate legislative committees.