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The Associated Press reports this morning that Cuba recently rejected a possible swap of Maryland contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15 year sentence in Havana for state security crimes, in return for the release to Cuba of convicted spy René González. González, 50, was released from a federal prison on October 7, after serving 13 years for conspiracy and failing to disclose that he was a Cuban agent. Under the terms of a conditional release order, he must remain in the United States under parole supervision for another 36 months. González is a U.S. born citizen, but also holds Cuban citizenship.
anonymity. According to the proposal, once Gross had been released the U.S. would "evaluate other Cuban complaints." The primary other Cuban complaint is its demand for the release of González' co-conspirators, all of whom were arrested in south Florida in 1998. Convicted of similar crimes, the group is collectively known as the Miami Five. The four others are still serving lengthy prison terms, and the U.S. has repeatedly said it will not swap them for Gross, who it refers to as a political prisoner.
Today's news is not surprising. In Mexico City earlier this week, the president of Cuba's parliament, Richard Alarcón, publicly rejected that same proposal. "How could anybody think that the two cases are comparable? One deals with a man who is just finishing up a (13 year) sentence (González),the other with a man who is just beginning a (15 year) sentence (Gross). It's like comparing apples to pears."
According to the AP report, Cuba counter offered to release Gross in return for González and at least one other of the Miami Five, a trade which the U.S. rejected, says AP.
More on the Rene Gonzalez case here.
More on Richard Alarcón's statements here.