Photo: Richardson Leaves Cuba Empty Handed
To hear former New Mexican Governor Bill Richardson tell it, he was invited to Cuba by the Raul Castro government to discuss the Alan Gross matter.
Gross has been sitting in a Cuban jail close to two years, charged and convicted of being a U.S. spy for bringing in illegal communication equipment. Meanwhile Gross insists he was simply a government contractor there working with USAID on a democracy building project.
Richardson who has visited Cuba numerous times and on behalf of other jailed individuals was expecting a warm reception.
Cuba apparently was not happy that Richardson’s visit was leaked and that Richardson was making disparaging statements calling Gross a “hostage” of the government. They also didn’t like that Richardson was giving the impression the Cuban government was considering releasing him. For their part the U.S. said Richardson was going there on a personal capacity. Richardson left Cuba yesterday saying he is an “ex-friend” of the country.
A Cuban government spokesman noted: “We explained to Mr. Richardson that Cuba is a sovereign country which does not accept blackmail, pressure or posturing.”
As a result Richardson did not secure Gross’ release he never even got to visit him in jail. Was Richardson grandstanding or was the Cuban government just being the Cuban government?
The obvious result is that Gross will not be released any time soon but the longer term effect is that Cuba has lost one of its staunchest U.S. based defenders in Richardson.