"My protest fast is suspended as of today, although there will be
further protests to come," Alan Gross said in a statement. His
91-year-old mother urged Gross, 64, to resume eating, according to a
statement released through representatives of his lawyer and family.
"There will be no cause for further intense protest when both
governments show more concern for human beings and less malice and
derision toward each other," the statement said.
Gross was arrested in 2009 while trying to establish an online
network for Jews in Havana as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency
for International Development (USAID). It was his fifth trip to
In 2011, a Cuban court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for
illegally providing Internet equipment and service to Cuban Jewish
groups under a U.S. program promoting political change that the
Cuban government considers subversive.
Gross launched his hunger strike on April 3 after The Associated
Press reported that USAID established a secretive "Cuban Twitter,"
called ZunZuneo following his arrest. Havana viewed the project as
an attempt to subvert the communist government.
ZunZuneo was funded by USAID, a foreign aid agency that has also
received funds from Congress to promote democracy in Cuba. The
United States has tried to use social media to break through Cuba's
state monopoly on newspapers, radio and television.
ZunZuneo and at least two other social networks financed by the U.S.
government have mostly targeted the roughly 2 million mobile phone
users on the island via text messaging, as Cuba has the lowest
Internet density in the Western Hemisphere.
[to top of second column]
Cuba has blamed the United States for Gross's incarceration and
repeatedly offered to enter into talks that would also take up the
cases of three Cuban agents serving long prison terms in the United
States for spying on Cuban exile groups in Florida.
The United States has rejected any trade of the Cuban agents for
Gross, and no formal talks have taken place.
(Reporting by David Adams; writing by Kevin Gray;
editing by David
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