CRC Calls on Obama Administration to Redouble Efforts to Free Alan Gross as Fifth Anniversary of Incarceration Approaches
With the fifth anniversary of Alan Gross’s imprisonment in Cuba less than a month away, we are calling on the Obama administration in the strongest terms to do whatever is necessary to bring Alan home. His situation is dire. Time is running out.
Alan was jailed in Cuba nearly five years ago for his work in Cuba on behalf of a U.S. government agency. As the New York Times recently wrote “the [Obama] administration has a duty to do more to get Mr. Gross home,” Alan’s “arrest was the result of a reckless strategy in which U.S.A.I.D. has deployed private contractors to perform stealthy missions” in Cuba that its government “vehemently opposed.”
The weight of nearly five years of imprisonment has taken a heavy toll on Alan’s physical and mental state. His health is deteriorating. He has lost more than 100 pounds; he is losing vision in his right eye; both his hips are failing, making it a struggle to walk; and he has lost several teeth due to his frail health. He spends 24 hours a day in a small cell with two other prisoners. Alan’s 92 year old mother, Evelyn Gross, died recently following a four-year fight against cancer. Alan, who spoke with her daily before his fateful trip to Cuba, was devastated that he could not say goodbye and could not attend her funeral.
On his 65th birthday in May, Alan announced that he has had enough and will not “celebrate” another birthday in prison. His wife Judy is worried that he is emotionally volatile and will do something drastic at any moment. The head of Alan’s legal team, Scott Gilbert, has stated that Alan plans to end his life rather than face another 10 years in a Cuban prison.
Alan has said goodbye to his family. He is refusing visitors. He will not meet with U.S. diplomats in Cuba, believing that his country has abandoned him.
We echo the sentiment of 12,000 members of the U.S. Jewish community who with little fanfare or publicity joined together over the Jewish New Year and sent emails to the White House asking a simple question: “Why is Alan Gross still in Cuba?” As the New York Times noted, “time is of the essence.”
It is not our place to attempt to dictate what our government should do to bring Alan home. But we simply cannot believe that after five years, the most powerful country on earth is unable to secure the release of one of its citizens, who is languishing in a foreign prison because of a mission he undertook on behalf of our country. With all respect, we ask the Obama administration to do whatever it takes to bring Alan home now. Before it is too late.
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The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) is the public affairs and community relations arm of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington representing over 100 Jewish organizations and synagogues throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The JCRC focuses on government relations, Israel advocacy, inter-group relations, and social justice.
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