Monday, October 7, 2013

Cuba: Update--President Obama Has Power to Release Aging Alan Gross, But Won't, A Travisty

According to The Latin American Tribune, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday (September 30) ended his visit to Havana without having visited imprisoned American contractor Alan Gross, 64, the Jewish-American serving a 15-year prison sentence here after being convicted of subversion in 2011, AFTER being sent to Cuba to perform work on behalf of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) contract!

As I emphasized a couple of years ago, Alan Gross will be nearly 80 years of age when he is released from Cuban authorities in 2026, having lost 17 precious years of life with his wife, Judy, following his arrest in Havana in 2009.

Reportedly, Alan Gross and his wife filed a lawsuit in 2012 against both his employer, Development Alternatives, Inc. and USAID, which is still working its way through US courts.

In 2001, Gross founded Joint Business Development Center, a small company that earned less than US$70,000 in 2009, which supports "Internet connectivity in locations where there [is] little or no access," according to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Yet, under his subcontract with Development Alternatives, Inc., Mr. Gross was paid roughly $500,000 as early as 2004 and until is arrest in 2009.

At the time of his arrest and conviction, Gross and his wife, Judy, lived in Potomac, MD, a Washington, DC suburb. The couple has two daughters.

Jackson told the foreign press that he had asked Cuban authorities to allow him to see Gross, but they told him they would need more notice to coordinate such a visit, which suggests that Jackson should have communicated his request to the Cuban government at least two months before his visit in order to prevent Havana from using time as a convenient excuse.

Gross was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 with satellite communications equipment in his possession. Havana said he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion.

In August 2012, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on the American, although he has been held by Cuban authorities since December 2009.

Cuba has suggested to Washington that it would release Gross in exchange for the return of the four members of the “Cuban Five” who remain imprisoned in the United States on espionage charges.

Sadly, the Obama Administration has dismissed Gross' possible swap for the four Cuban spies now being held in the US as unnecessary and alternatively demanded that Gross be immediately released without conditions.

Unfortunately, it is Development Alternatives, Inc. and USAID that caused Alan Gross to be arrested and convicted of a crime in Cuba and sentenced to 15-years in prison, simply because USAID never cleared the USAID project it had approved with the agency's Cuban counterparts.

Reportedly, Gross' health has deteriorated during his incarceration. According to his wife and attorney, he has lost over 100 pounds (48 kg), has degenerative arthritis and is having difficulty walking. In May 2012, a mass developed on his right shoulder, which was diagnosed by Cuban doctors as a hematoma, but a US radiologist consulted by Gross' family stated that the mass was improperly diagnosed and that Gross could be suffering from cancer, which prompted Gross's new U.S. attorney, Jared Genser, a Washington-based international human rights attorney to file a petition to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Even Cuban authorities report themselves that throughout most of Gross' captivity, the American has been held in a prison hospital.