Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cuba: Update--Alan Gross' Wife, Judy, Describes Her Visit with Alan as "Traumatic"

According to The Latin American Tribune, three-hundred rabbis from across the United States on Monday (August 4) asked President Barack Obama to negotiate with Havana to secure the release of Alan Gross, a US government subcontractor serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba on a conviction for subversion.

“Alan went to Cuba on behalf of our government. His immediate release from prison in Cuba and return to the US must be a priority for our nation. Indeed, we believe this is a moral imperative,” the rabbis said in a letter to Obama.

Gross, now 65, traveled to Cuba on behalf of a Maryland institutional contractor that won a contract from the US Agency for International Development to expand Internet access and the flow of information on the Communist-ruled island.

Alan Gross was in possession of sophisticated communications gear when Cuban authorities arrested him in December 2009.

A Cuban court ultimately convicted Gross, who is Jewish, on charges of illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion.

COMMENT: As I have said so often in the past, USAID's project in  Havana was poorly conceived, poorly executed and should never have been approved by senior agency officials to begin with.

Worse, the fact that the federal government was a knowing partner in the plight that confronted Alan Gross while he was in Cuba on behalf of the US government underlines the fact that it has a moral if not an ethical responsibility to "make things right" by agreeing to the prisoner exchange which is apparently still "on the table":


“Our communities are gravely concerned that Alan continues to languish in a Cuban prison nearly five years after his arrest. We ask, with all respect, that you take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a prompt end to Alan’s, and his family’s, continuing nightmare,” the rabbis wrote to Obama.

During a recent visit of his wife, Judy, and his daughter, Nina, Gross said he couldn’t bear being in prison much longer and said goodbye to them, spokespersons for the family said.

Gross “has withdrawn,” his attorney, Scott Gilbert, for continuing with various lawsuits said in a statement released Monday (August 4).

His client told him that “life in prison is not a life worth living,” Gilbert said.

Gross is confined to a small cell 24 hours a day and has lost most of the sight in his right eye, the lawyer said, adding that the prisoner can hardly walk and has abandoned any attempt to engage in exercise.

Judy Gross described her last visit to her husband as “traumatic” and said she has never seen Alan in such terrible condition, physically and emotionally.

Havana has suggested an exchange of Gross for three Cuban intelligence agents serving time in US prisons.

The United States rejects talk of a prisoner swap, instead demanding that Cuba release Gross without conditions.