MIAMI — Alan Gross, the American subcontractor who was jailed in Cuba for five years, joined independent journalists, digital innovators and other personalities from the island here for the first Cuba Internet Freedom Conference.
“Its probably easier for the government to sensor now with the small usage. But as the usage increases it will become increasingly difficult for them,” Gross told NBC Latino at the conference organized by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting as part of this week's Social Media Week in Miami.
“When you have exposure globally then you become part of a world family, a global family. One can only benefit from that,” he added.
The conference is described as bringing together digital innovators, journalists from Cuba and others to bring about greater and uncensored digital access.
President Barack Obama authorized the commercial export of certain communications equipment and services to expand Cuban Internet access and to lower telecommunications costs when the U.S. and Cuba began normalizing their relationship.
Gross has said in the past he would travel to Cuba in a heartbeat now that its relationships with the U.S. has eased and Obama has opened up travel to the island. Besides visiting a beach and more of Cuba, he wants to see and thank the families of his former fellow prison inmates who shared food with him, he said.
When asked why he hasn’t visited the island yet he said he sent two emails to the Cuban embassy asking for a time to meet just to talk and then after that he would ask for a visa to visit. “But so far they are non-responsive,” Gross said.
Gross, was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba for importing satellite communications equipment to the Jewish community without the permit required by Cuban law. He was working for a contractor for USAID He was released in December 2014 when the U.S. and Cuba announced they would reestablish diplomatic ties. Since his release he has been advocating for the U.S. to lift the trade embargo on Cuba.