Alan Gross, imprisoned for five years in Cuba for his efforts to assist its Jewish community, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, citing in part her commitment to the Obama administration’s new openness to Cuba.
“I support her commitment to continue and improve our new Cuba policy,” Gross, who was arrested in 2009 for distributing internet equipment to the island’s Jewish community, wrote in an Op-Ed that appeared Friday in the Sun-Sentinel in southern Florida where Clinton and her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, are expected to battle for the Jewish and Cuban vote.
“It was about time to recognize that if we want the Cuban Government to get out of the way of its private sector and private citizens, we also need to get out of the way,” he said.
Gross, of Potomac, Maryland, was a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested. His Op-Ed cited his experience delivering aid and assistance to the developing world in making his case for Clinton over Trump, whom Gross criticized for delivering broadsides against minorities and proposing to separate Mexico and the United States with a massive wall.
“Having worked in 54 countries, I know how important it is for the U.S. to be seen as the leader of the free world,” he wrote. “Our president must command respect and be cognizant of circumstances in other countries. Hillary is no novice to world conditions and how these intersect with our economic and physical security at home. She knows the value of building bridges, not walls.”
Gross was released in December of 2014 as part of a broader exchange in which three Cubans convicted for spying were released from American prisons. The same day, President Barack Obama announced renewed ties with the communist nation.