BALTIMORE (WJZ)– For one Maryland man, the death of Fidel Castro is welcomed news. Alan Gross was the center of an international battle that involved the president, the Pope and prisoners of war before he was finally released in 2014.
Gross says there are divisions among the Cuban people over the leader who ruled Cuba the past 50 years but his personal vision is clear.
“Good. It’s about time,” was Maryland resident Alan Gross’ reaction to the death of Fidel Castro.
After spending 5 years in a Cuban prison, in 2014 WJZ covered the release Alan Gross, a government subcontractor who grew up in Baltimore who was imprisoned in Cuba for 5 years.
“Thursday night, December 3, 2009 at 10 o’clock at night I’m in my hotel room, I’m all packed, ready to go, falling asleep and all of a sudden I hear bang-bang-bang,” said Gross.
He calls his experience surreal and Fidel Castro brutal.
“He brutalized the people of Cuba,” he said. “Most of the people I met were not fans of Fidel. In fact they wouldn’t even mention his name when talking about something. They’d always go like that, meaning the beard.”
Gross says in his experience Castro’s supporters are the very old and the very young.
“Then you’ve got the majority of the people in the middle who earn $20 a month on average.”
Those Cubans, he believes, will not be mourning Castro’s death.
“The legacy is, here’s a man who destroyed the economy, allowed the infrastructure to disintegrate, tried to kill the spirit of the Cuban people and at the same time became a billionaire.”
But for now in Cuba thousands of mourners are lining up to pay their final respects.
Gross’ observations are more in line with Cubans in the United States who are celebrating.
President Obama is not sending a delegation to Cuba for Castro’s funeral but two U.S. officials will attend, including the chief U.S. diplomat in Havana.