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Latino Daily News

Thursday September 8, 2011

Former New Mexico Governor Travels to Cuba, Looking to Negotiate Release of U.S. Contractor

Former New Mexico Governor Travels to Cuba, Looking to Negotiate Release of U.S. Contractor

Photo: Bill Richardson, former NM governor, in Cuba to negotiate release of US contractor

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Earlier this year, Alan Gross, 62, was sentenced by a Cuban court to 15 years in prison for attempting to set up internet networks in the communist country. And Wednesday, former Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico) arrived in Cuba to try to negotiate the released of the American aid contractor.

Since he’s been detained, Gross’ case has caused the ceasing of the U.S.’s already strained ties with Cuba, but Richardson’s private trip is looking to smooth things over enough to achieve Gross’ release, saying there would be no improvement to the relations until he is released. Richardson has previously worked for the Democratic party as a sort of “trouble-shooter.”

Richardson did not make any official comments when reporters caught up with him outside his hotel, only commenting on the “beautiful day.”

The country’s parliament president, Ricardo Alarcon, however, did comment on the matter saying he thought Richardson’s trip was pointless seeing as Cuba’s highest court upheld Gross’ sentence just last month.

Richardson also spoke with Cuban officials about the case during his visit in August 2010, but had not worked out a release.

Gross’ family has said they are “pleased that the Cuban government invited Governor Richardson to Havana,” adding that they hope the talks “will result in Alan’s release.”

Gross was arrested in December of 2009 for, as his defense puts it, simply trying to improve internet access to the Cuba’s Jewish community while in the country with the U.S. Agency for International Development.