Florida, US & Cuba: Politics
Cuba accuses Bill Richardson over Alan Gross visit
Cuba has accused former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson of slander and denied he was invited to Havana for talks about jailed American Alan Gross.
Cuban officials said they rejected Mr Richardson’s request to see Gross after he described him as a “hostage”.
Mr Richardson, now back in the US, told CNN he was stunned by Cuba’s “dramatic snub”, which seemed to suggest Havana was not seeking improved US ties.
Mr Gross is serving 15 years for bringing internet equipment into Cuba.
The case has frozen US-Cuba relations, after a brief warming under Barack Obama’s presidency.
Cuban officials said Mr Richardson had visited the island on his own initiative.
“His request to see the prisoner… became impossible due to his slanderous statements to the press in which he described Gross as a ‘hostage’ of the Cuban government,” said a statement from Josefina Vidal, head of North American Affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.
The issue of Gross’ release was never on the table, the statement said.
“Mr Richardson was reminded that Cuba is a sovereign country that does not accept blackmail, pressure or arrogance.”
FloridaLatinConnection/Arnoldo Varona, Editor