Richardson unfriends Cuba

Richardson speaks to reporters in Havana.

So remember how Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and negotiator extraordinaire, was invited to Cuba, maybe to secure the release of Alan Gross, the jailed American government contractor?

Well, it didn’t go so well.

Richardson said he's leaving on Wednesday, alone.

The former United Nations ambassador wasn't even able to see Gross, even though Richardson said earlier in his visit that he wouldn't leave without at least paying him a visit.

Instead, he spent a lot of time in his hotel room, waiting for a visit that was repeatedly denied.

There's not exactly a lot of love lost between the United States and Cuba. But Gross' detention has really irked the U.S.

The State Department said that Richardson was traveling in a personal capacity, but they were of course fully behind his efforts. 

Even Richardson, who normally is a pretty diplomatic speaker, had some harsh words for the government of Raul Castro, the elder brother of the famous Fidel. 

Per the BBC: 

"My conclusion is that maybe the Cuban government has decided that it does not want better relations with the US," he said.

"Maybe that is the message they are sending to a friend, or maybe now an ex-friend," he added.


The visit must have been particularly awkward for Richardson, who traditionally has had a warm relationship with the Cuban government. This time, it even got personal. Per the Washington Post: 

“Unfortunately after this negative experience, I don’t know if I could return here as a friend,” he said. “The next step is up to the Cuban government, but they have not treated me like a friend.”

Meanwhile, Gross, 62, is in his 22nd month of a 15-year sentence for attempting to destabilize the government. As long as they hold him, it seems like the briefly warmed relations between the two governments have frozen back over.