Alan Gross is starting his sixth year in prison. As I understand it, Cuba wants to discuss releasing him in exchange for the remaining Cuban Five prisoners and the US refuses to do so because they do not see equivalence in the cases, saying that Gross was trying to facilitate Cuban communication, not doing espionage.
If that negotiation is at an impasse, how about trying to reframe the issue? Alan Gross's project was not unique. It is known that USAID funded another project to get communication equipment into Cuba, Twitter-like ZunZuneo and A program to encourage dissent among youth. We do not deny funding these programs, but say they were not trying to overthrow the Cuban government.
Instead of a prisoner swap, how about the US sincerely apologizing for and promising to end projects like these in return for Gross's freedom? The US has already been outed, so we would not be revealing anything new in apologizing. At the same time, it would give the Cuban government a propaganda win and a rationale for releasing Gross on humanitarian grounds -- making them look good. Would they go for that?
I understand that hard-liners on either side would refuse such a deal and I understand their reasons, but think about poor Alan Gross.