The People’s Supreme Court of Cuba’s decision to reject detained U.S. aid worker Alan P. Gross’s final appeal for release is expected to strain U.S.-Cuba relations further. This comes at a time when U.S. legislators are debating the release of funds for democracy-promotion initiatives in Cuba.
The supreme court ruling upholds Gross’s 15-year jail sentence imposed in March despite calls from the Obama administration for his immediate and unconditional release. It also effectively ends all judicial recourse for the 62-year-old aid worker, who has been detained since his arrest in December 2009 on allegations of distributing communications equipment illegally while working on a U.S. Agency for International Development program to promote democracy in Cuba. His family is reportedly hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the matter.
Legislators have already been questioning the annual allocation of funds for U.S. democracy-promotion initiatives in Cuba. On July 29, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chief John Kerry dropped objections to releasing $20 million in funding after a three-month “hold.” However, at least one more hold remains on the Cuba democracy program from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
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