The Cuban government has rebuffed a mission by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to free a U.S. government contractor jailed in Havana, even ruling out a visit with the man, Richardson said Sunday.
Richardson vowed to remain in Cuba until he was allowed to see jailed American Alan P. Gross.
“We were supposed to leave yesterday. We’ve extended our stay in the hotel. My position is, I’m not planning to leave until I get a chance to visit Alan Gross,” Richardson said in a telephone interview from Havana.
Cuba’s action appeared to be an extraordinary snub of the prominent, Spanish-speaking Democrat and former U.N. ambassador who has had cordial relations with the island’s government. There was no word from the Cuban government on why Richardson couldn’t see Gross, who has routinely received visits from U.S. diplomats and members of Congress.
Gross, 62, was arrested in December 2009 while working on a secretive democracy program in Cuba for the U.S. Agency for International Development. His detention has grown into a major impediment to President Obama’s goal of improving relations with Cuba.