HAVANA, Cuba (CBS4) - Unlike thousands of Cubans who visit the U.S, Interests Section in Havana hoping to leave the island, Rene Gonzalez showed up to the U.S. diplomatic mission Monday accompanied by his attorney to renounce his U.S. citizenship so he can stay in Cuba permanently.
“It’s a conscious decision,” Gonzalez told CBS News in Havana. “I did it on my own will. I have people in the U.S. who I love. I don’t have a grudge against the United States as a country.”
Gonzalez is one of five Cuban agents convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations and Cuban exile groups.
After serving 12 years in prison, he was allowed to return to Cuba for his father’s funeral. A federal judge later allowed him to stay on the island as long as he gave up his U.S. citizenship.
“I’m not happy about it,” Gonzalez, who was born in Chicago, said about renouncing his U.S. citizenship. “It’s just that I had to choose between my family and my country and my people and something else and I had to do it. I’ve been preparing for this for maybe two years because we tried to do this even before I left the prison but for some reason the prosecutors decided they should punish me a little more so they always opposed my request to give up my citizenship in exchange for coming to Cuba.”
Asked if he felt he was abandoning the other Cuban Five spies, Gonzalez replied, “No, on the contrary I believe that my return gives them hope.”
Gonzalez was asked about U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was convicted of spying for the United States and is currently serving a 15 year prison term in Cuba.
“I don’t want to be tough on the family of anybody, but I believe they don’t go anywhere by claiming innocence and at the same time suing the U.S. government, if you ask me.”
Gross’ family has filed a suit against the U.S. government and the contractor that hired him, claiming they did not warn him about the dangers he faced working in Cuba. Gross claims he was hired to deliver communications equipment to groups on the island.
“I believe that (the lawsuit) has damaged them in front of U.S. public opinion,” Gonzalez said. “I believe that it would be better for them to admit what he did and try to look for a humanitarian solution. It’s on the table. So that would be my advice for them. I don’t have anything against Mr. Gross. I wish him well.”