Alan Gross, who spent five years as a prisoner in Cuba, will be a guest of President Barack Obama at the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.
Gross and his wife, Judy, will be seated near first lady Michelle Obama.
South Florida sea-rise researcher Nicole Hernandez Hammer also will be in the VIP box in the House of Representatives during the speech. Hammer studies works with Hispanic communities to address climate change issues.
The two are among 22 special guests.
Gross was arrested in 2009 when he says he was setting up Internet access for Cuba’s Jewish community. He was released in December, on the same day President Obama announced a thaw in relations with Cuba.