By: Pilar Martinez
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – Alan Gross, an American who spent five years in a Havana prison, praised President Obama’s expected visit to Cuba as “courageous.”
“His interest in going to Cuba is a very courageous thing to do, as was the decision to bring me home,” Gross said in an interview with Bloomberg released Friday.
The relationship between the U.S. and Cuba has been continuously rocky, but Gross said that he supports efforts towards building diplomatic relations.
“If we’re the leading country in the world, then we should lead by example, [and stop] punishing a country for something that happened in the past that they’re trying to climb out of,” Gross said. Adding, that “people just don’t understand: Life in Cuba for 11.3 million people is horrendous. They’re just as much prisoners as I was.”
Gross was held captive from 2009 until December 2014, when he was released on humanitarian grounds. He was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was charged with “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state” after bringing electronic equipment into the country.
Obama will visit Cuba March 20-22 in order to normalize lost diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. This will be the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited the country in 88 years.