Haitian President Michel Martelly declined to reveal details of his intervention with Cuban leader Raúl Castro on behalf of the United States for the release of USAID subcontractor Alan Gross.
But he said no one knew when he left Haiti with an adviser and his oldest son, Olivier, in early 2013 what he was up to. He had been asked to intervened by Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who thought his relationship with Cuba and the U.S. could be of use.
On Tuesday, Cuba released Gross and the U.S. and Cuba announced sweeping efforts toward normalizing relations that have been frozen for more than a half-century.
After Martelly discussed the Gross case with Cuban officials, Vice President Joe Biden later called to thank him on behalf of the United States, he said.
“Haiti is proud to have played a role in what happened today,” Martelly told the Miami Herald in an interview, preferring to give all the credit to Nelson. “It’s making it better for people on both sides.”
During his visits to Cuba, Martelly said he saw how “heavy other investments were by other countries, and the United States, which is just 45 minutes away from Cuba, was losing opportunity in business investments.”
Martelly said he always spoke to people, whether it was presidents or ambassadors about bettering relations between Cuba and the U.S.
“I’m happy today that this was a success, and about the little role I was able to play,” he said.
The Cuban people, he said, “have definitely suffered from that embargo. We had an embargo for three years, and up to this day, we have not recovered.
“I wish for the embargo to be over for Cuba, and all I can do is wish success to both countries in having better relations.”
Martelly said in today’s global environment, it’s important for countries to accept differences, and to dialogue.