Sunday, November 13, 2011

New campaign: Alan Gross Day

On Nov. 8, Judy Gross announced her wish that Dec. 1 be declared "Alan Gross Day" as part of her campaign to free her husband from a Cuban jail.
Gross was arrested in December 2009 while on a USAID mission in Cuba and later convicted of crimes against the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Judy Gross told the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly that she was at the couple's home in Maryland on Dec. 3, 2009, when he failed to come home from the airport. She said at first she thought his flight was delayed, but was startled to find out that his plane had already landed.
She said she began to have a sinking feeling, and after a few phone calls, she found out he hadn't made it onto his flight.
Later that night, Gross said she learned that her husband had been arrested on unknown charges and was being held at a maximum security prison in Cuba.

During her speech in Denver, Gross said she wanted to tell people a little bit about her husband. She said:
Above all he is a humanitarian. he has devoted his life to helping others. He's worked in over 50 countries...with one goal: Improving the life of the disadvantaged. These qualities brought him to Cuba. He wanted to do what he always does - help his fellow Jews.
Gross said the Jewish community in Cuba is "small but spread out." Members of the community have difficulty communicating with one another and the rest of the world. She said:
Alan jumped at the chance to help them communicate with one another and to share. He was helping them to have better access to the Internet so they could download prayer books and see pictures of the outside world.
Gross said her husband wanted to help Jews in Cuba find and share "recipes, sports scores, everyday things."
This is what he was doing in Cuba, nothing more.
During Gross' trial in Cuba, she said the government called several witnesses. One was a frail old man who had trouble making it to the witness stand. Judy Gross said he talked about connecting to the Internet, quoting him as saying:
I saw the world. I saw the Western Wall.
Judy Gross said:
Because of this humanitarian work, Alan is sitting in a jail cell today. Alan convicted of crimes against the state of Cuba and sentenced to 15 years for helping the Jewish community share prayers and look at pictures.
Gross said her husband's imprisonment is "beyond any sense of reason" and "unfair and unjust." She said Alan Gross is "not well."
He has lost more than 100 pounds. He's suffering every day mentally, physically and spiritually. We are working to to declare Thursday December 1st Alan Gross Day across the country. ...we want world to know Alan needs to be released. Contact members of Congress. Tell them to take action on behalf of Alan. Let the Cuban government know that Alan needs to come home.
H/t Emilio Ichikawa


John McAuliff said...

It is sad that Judy Gross is doubling down on the official US position and continuing to follow the strategy of pressuring Cuba.

The reason Gilad Shalit returned to his family is that they directed their pressure at what their own government could do to bring about his freedom.

If Israel can agree with Hamas to exchange Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinians, including 315 serving life sentences, why is it so hard for the Obama Administration to release five Cuban intelligence operatives, one imprisoned for life, in return for USAID agent Alan Gross?

From Cuba's perspective Alan is just as guilty of violating its laws as from the US perspective the Cuban 5 are guilty of violating ours.

We can continue this charade of mutual self-righteousness for many years, or both sides can seriously seek a political solution.

More at

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Tracey Eaton said...

Nearly two years after the jailing of Alan Gross, there are unanswered questions about what he was doing in Cuba. I am not justifying his imprisonment, and I sympathize with him and his family. But I find it hard to believe that the U.S. government would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to help Cuba's Jewish community connect to the Internet. Was there something else going on? Was Alan Gross using the Jewish community as a cover without Cuban Jews knowing about it? Trial transcripts or court records, if made public, would shed more light on the subject.

John McAuliff said...

It is hard to understand why Cuba does not release a video or transcript of the trial and appeal.

US officials say it is because their case was weak.

Cuba may feel it would be considered a provocation and make it harder to negotiate a solution.

The closing of the trial to the press is unfortunately the way Cuba handles all criminal cases.

One source speculates that is because of the criticism they received of the very public trials of counterrevolutionaries in the early days.

Tracey Eaton said...

I'm sure someday we'll know more about the case. Who knows when...

curt9954 said...

This was not Alan Gross' first trip to Cuba, it was his fifth. When he says that he was duped by USAID that is b------t. How can he not know that bringing sophisticated satellite equipment to an enemy to the U.S government might get him arrested. The company Gross worked for had a 6 million dollar contract with USAID.
Gross repotedly received 100,000 dollars for each visit he made to Cuba. It would be a very fair exchange for the U.S to free the Cuban 5 for Gross. However the Obama administration would never do anything to alienate the Miami Cubans, especially during an election year.