Calling his imprisonment a "major obstacle" to improving bilateral relations, a bipartisan group of nearly half the U.S. Senate, led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), has written to Cuban President Raúl Castro asking him to finally release Marylander Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds. Alan has been in Cuban custody since December 2009. He suffers a number of debilitating medical conditions while his elderly mother and his daughter are both being treated for cancer.
"After three years of unjustly imprisoning American citizen Alan Gross, my colleagues and I are hopeful that the Cuban government will take action and grant his release," said Senator Moran. "While Alan's health deteriorates in Cuba, some of his family members are also suffering from illness back home. It's time for Cuba to release Alan on humanitarian grounds and allow him to return to his family in the United States. Failure to do so makes improved America-Cuba relations that much more difficult and unlikely."
"Year after year, the Cuban Government continues to demonstrate why bilateral relations between our two countries remain frozen. Alan Gross should not be a pawn in such games. Alan should be immediately and unconditionally released so he can return home for medical treatment and to support his family. The health and humanitarian needs of he and his family are paramount," Senator Cardin said. "Until Alan is released and returns home, we will let the world know how Cuba is violating the rights of an individual American citizen."
"I am so gratified to see the strength how many Senators have urged Raúl Castro to release my husband. Although there are differences of approach to U.S.-Cuba policy among and between Democrats and Republicans, there is unanimity of the need to bring Alan home," Judy Gross said, in response to the Senators' letter.
The full text of the letter to President Castro is below. In addition to Senators Cardin and Moran, it was signed by Richard Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Begich (D-AK), Dean Heller (R-NV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Boozman (R-AR), Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Dan Coats (R-IN), Mark L. Pryor (D-AR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
September 24, 2012
President Raúl Castro
Republic of Cuba
c/o Cuban Interests Section
2630 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Dear President Castro:
We are writing to express our serious and ongoing concern regarding the detention of Alan Gross, an American citizen, and to urge you to release him from prison on humanitarian grounds. As you are aware, Mr. Gross was a U.S.-government subcontractor who was arrested on December 3, 2009. He was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged "actions against the independence or territorial integrity of the state."
Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost 105 pounds (47.63 kg). He has degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his shoulder, which he fears may become permanent. He also suffers from mental anguish because of separation from his family, several of whom have serious medical conditions. Specifically, his daughter has been diagnosed and is being treated for breast cancer. And his 90-year-old mother, to whom he is exceptionally close, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in February 2011. Her condition continues to deteriorate and they both fear they will be unable to see each other again.
Members of the Senate have traveled to your country, written to you and your dignitaries, and employed other creative means to encourage Mr. Gross's release. Yet these attempts thus far have been futile, and Mr. Gross's ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to improve our bilateral relations.
We very much hope that you will take our concerns seriously. As we approach the three-year anniversary of Alan's imprisonment, we call on you to take action and grant him the belated release his situation warrants.