“In Havana, appeals for release of Alan Gross are drowned out by calls to free the ‘Cuban Five’”
Washington Post Blog -Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/14/2011
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson failed this week in his efforts to persuade the Cuban government to release a U.S. subcontractor serving 15 years in prison. But his attempt may have come at the worst possible time.
This week marked 13 years since the U.S. imprisonment of five Cuban nationals who were convicted of espionage and related charges in Miami. Their release is a cause celebre in Cuba, whose government says they were subjected to an unfair trial and were wrongly convicted. For years, pictures of the “Cuban Five” have been splashed on billboards and posters in Havana.
As Richardson was seeking to meet with Alan Gross, who was arrested in December 2009 for trying to distribute satellite telephone and Internet equipment to Cuba’s small Jewish community, the Cuban government on Monday was holding a massive gala in the Cuban capital, where the families of the five were treated as heroes and victims. Senior officials called the prisoners’ treatment “inhumane and cruel” and again demanded their release.