Senators Demand Cuba Free Alan Gross

Bipartisan Group of 44 Sign Letter to Raul Castro


By Reuters

Published September 25, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has sent a letter to Cuban President Raul Castro urging the release of an American contractor jailed in Cuba for nearly three years, saying his detention is “a major obstacle” to improving relations.

The letter, signed by 44 senators, is the strongest appeal yet by members of Congress in the case of Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence for illegally setting up Internet networks in Cuba.

In the letter, the senators urge Cuba to release Gross, 63, on humanitarian grounds, saying he has lost 105 pounds (47.63 kg) since his arrest and suffers from degenerative arthritis and an untreated mass behind his shoulder.

“He also suffers from mental anguish because of separation from his family, several of whom have serious medical conditions,” the letter states, noting that his daughter is being treated for breast cancer and his 90-year-old mother has also been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Gross’ imprisonment has halted efforts by President Barack Obama to improve long-hostile relations between the two countries just 90 miles (145 km) apart.

“Mr Gross’s ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to improve our bilateral relations,” the letter states.

His wife, Judy Gross, said earlier this month she feared for her husband’s life because his health is deteriorating. Cuba has said, however, that his condition is “normal,” noting that he is being held in a military hospital and not a prison.

Gross’ lawyers have asked that an independent medical examination be conducted by a doctor of the family’s choosing.

The Gross family is stepping up the campaign for his release and recently hired a new lawyer with a track record of dealing with tough international cases.

“Alan’s family feels the Cuban government currently has no interest in negotiating his release,” Jared Genser, the attorney, said.

“Therefore, if the Cuban government wants to continue to detain him, it needs to understand that we are going to do everything necessary to shine a bright light on his failing health, their refusal to let him see his dying mother, and the injustice of his detention.”

Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, for his work in a semi-covert U.S. program promoting political change on the island. Cuba has said it considered the work to be subversive.

Gross said he was in Cuba to set up communications equipment to give Internet access to Jewish groups. A judge said that this activity was a crime against the Cuban state.

Cuba has said it proposed talks with the United States about resolving the Gross case but has received no response. Washington disputes this, saying it has a standing offer to discuss the matter.

Cuban officials have hinted that they would be prepared to swap Gross for five Cuban government agents, who received lengthy U.S. sentences in a 2001 trial in Miami.

Cuba feels the agents, known as ‘the Cuban Five,’ were unjustly convicted and have made their freedom a national cause, referring to them as the “Five Heroes.”

Washington has insisted that such a deal is out of the question, though U.S. officials said last year they had suggested a swap of Gross for one agent, Rene Gonzalez, who is out on parole in Florida, but Cuba turned it down.

The State Department expressed impatience last week with Cuba, saying it would not “negotiate” for the release of Gross.

“The Cuban government’s assertion that it is waiting for a response from the United States on a standing offer to negotiate the release of U.S. aid worker Alan Gross is not true,” the State Department said in a statement.

“We have repeatedly made clear to the Cuban government that we reject the notion of exchanging members of the so-called Cuban Five for an American citizen who the Cuban government has imprisoned simply for trying to bring Internet access to the Cuban people,” the statement said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.