The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba issued a statement on Wednesday in connection with the death of Mrs. Evelyn Gross, mother of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who is serving a sentence of 15 years in prison on the island
The note signed by the Director General of the U.S. Department at the Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, expressed “heartfelt condolences” to his family, and explains that the prison systems of Cuba and the United States did not contemplate the possibility that internal sanctioned travel abroad, before “the doubts expressed by people that wondered why Mr. Gross could not visit her mother “.
The statement recalls the cases of three Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in U.S. federal prisons and points humanitarian elements related to enforcement of sentences imposed upon them. It relates in particular to Gerardo Hernandez, who was unable to travel to the island before the death of his mother, Carmen Nordelo.
The statement reiterated Cuba’s willingness to find a solution to the case of Alan Gross and Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, jointly with the United States government, which is acceptable to both nations and consider “humanitarian concerns of both governments and their respective families.”
Alan Gross, 64, is serving a sentence of imprisonment in Cuba since 2009, for illegally distributing telecommunications equipment in the country as part of a subcontract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Last April Gross declared a hunger strike in protest at the treatment to which he was subjected by the governments of Cuba and the United States, in his own words. The announcement criticized the immobility of his authorities and demanded President Obama to take steps to secure his release.
The fast coincided with revelations by The Associated Press about the ZunZuneo project, developed by USAID to promote social disorder and the fall of the Cuban government. In the same month, the American subcontractor suspended the strike because of a request made by his mother, although his lawyer Scott Gilbert announced that other protests occur.
Now OnCuba reproduces the full statement issued by Cuban authorities
Statement by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, General Director of the United States Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba
We have learned about the unfortunate news of the passing of Mrs. Evelyn Gross, the mother of Alan Gross, the US citizen who is serving an imprisonment sentence in Cuba. We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his relatives.
Given the doubts expressed by the persons who wonder about the reasons why Mr. Gross was not able to visit his mother, it is necessary to clarify that neither the Cuban penitentiary system nor the US penitentiary system provide the possibility for inmates to travel abroad, no matter the reason.
It is necessary to remember that when Carmen Nordelo -the mother of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, one of the Cuban Five who is serving the unjust two life terms plus a fifteen-year imprisonment sentence in the United States- passed away, he was not allowed either to travel to visit and say farewell to her.
There are other elements of a profound humanitarian nature, which would be impossible to overlook, that concur in the situation facing Gerardo and his colleagues Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. For almost sixteen years they have been separated from his relatives, some of them of an advanced age, who entertain the hope to be able to see them back; and they have not been able to see their children grow up.
This unfortunate situation could have been avoided. We reiterate Cuba’s firm determination to find, together with the United States, a solution to the cases of Gross, Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, that is acceptable to both sides and takes into account the humanitarian concerns of both governments and their respective relatives.
Discuss Havana, June 18, 2014.