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McGovern Visits American Jailed in Cuba

Rep. McGovern hopes a visit would 'go a long way toward securing his release.'

Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, joined other U.S. lawmakers last week to visit an American man who is serving a long sentence in a Cuban jail, according to an AP report on masslive.com.

Seven members of Congress, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, also met with Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as other officials, but did not provide any details on the condition of the American.

Alan Gross, 63, from Maryland, has been likely held at a military hospital since he was arrested in 2009, said AP. Gross was sentenced to 15 years for "bringing communications equipment to the island illegally while on a USAID-funded democracy-building program."

Sen. Leahy invited McGovern to join the group on the visit because of his longstanding interest in Cuba, Michael Mershon, deputy chief of staff/press secretary for McGovern, told Patch.

"With a new Obama term and a new secretary of state," said Mershon, "Jim is hopeful that we can make progress in bettering our relations with Cuba. Mr. Gross remains in prison, and Jim believes that a more open, mature relationship between the United State and Cuba would go a long way toward securing his release."

Mershon added that McGovern has long fought for better relations between the United States and Cuba.

"He believes that current American policies, including a travel ban for American citizens and the economic embargo, are fruitless relics from the Cold War. The delegation raised the case of Alan Gross with Cuban officials several times. Jim continues to believe that Mr. Gross should be released.”

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