By Ray Sanchez, Elise Labott and Patrick Oppmann, CNN (CNN) — Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba for smuggling satellite equipment onto the island, is being held at Havana’s Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital.
With peeling canary-yellow walls and hordes of people coming and going, the aging building doesn’t look like a place where Cuba would hold its most valuable prisoner.
But police officers and soldiers surround the hospital. Inside, Cuban special forces guard the 65-year-old U.S. citizen, emotionally and physically frail and approaching his fifth year in confinement.
North of the Florida Straits, Gross’ imprisonment is seen as the major impediment to better relations with Havana.
Now, however, midway through the second term of President Barack Obama, several signs of possible change have emerged. Senior administration officials and Cuba observers say reforms on the island and changing attitudes in the United States have created an opening for improved relations.
The signs include the admission this week by senior administration officials that talks about a swap between Gross and three imprisoned Cuban agents — part of group originally known as the Cuban Five — have taken place. In addition, recent editorials in The New York Times have recommended an end to the longstanding U.S. embargo against Cuba and even a prisoner swap for Gross.
Video with article continues here: CNN