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Congressional Visit to U.S. Citizen Imprisoned in Cuba

Four members of Congress traveled recently to Cuba to visit a U.S. citizen imprisoned since December 2009 in Cuba, a lost closer to home than Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s location.  

The four members of Congress met with Alan Gross , 65, at a military hospital where he is currently serving a 15 year sentence. Gross was imprisoned in December 2009 for working against the government. The meeting was arranged by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.  

In an interview with NBC, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., stated she thought Gross had lost a lot of weight and is desperate. Lee has visited Gross three times in the last four and a half years.  

Gross was a subcontractor for the State Department’s Agency for International Development, working in Havana giving out communications equipment to Jewish groups as part of a democracy project. Gross had been providing cell phones, personal computers, and networking devices.  

The May 3-6 trip was paid for by the Center for Democracy in the Americas, not the U.S. government. The post-travel reports by the members included those from Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., ($1,810), Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., ($2,148), Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., ($1,875), and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., (no report filed yet).  

The members also met with ambassadors to Cuba from the European Union, Britain, the Netherlands and Norway. Other meetings included those with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez; Tom Palaia, Political Chief of the U.S. Interests Section; and Dan King, acting Consul General at the Chief of Mission Residence; among others.  

Rep. Lee has traveled to Cuba numerous times and was instrumental in obtaining approval of the Oakland airport to hose flights to Cuba. Rep. Farr, and Rep. Meeks have traveled to Cuba several times. All have urged President Obama to permit more individuals to travel to Cuba.

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