Alan Gross Faces Death in Cuba if Obama Doesn’t Change Approach, says wife

By Dawn Gable

More than 150 family members, friends and local supporters of the Gross family came out to rally for Alan Gross' release. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
More than 150 family members, friends and local supporters of the Gross family came out to rally for Alan Gross’ release. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

HAVANA TIMES — The wife of Alan Gross, USAID subcontractor who on Tuesday marked his fourth year in a Cuban prison, held a rally outside the White House after delivering a letter to the President from her husband. The letter, and Judy’s speech to the crowd of about 150, call on Obama to get personally involved and to do “whatever it takes” to secure Alan’s release.

Mrs. Gross rejected the State Department statement yesterday calling on the Cuban Government to “release Alan Gross immediately and unconditionally” saying that this tact has gotten them nowhere for the past four years and if the U.S. government does not drop the, “unconditionally, this will be a death sentence for Alan… Please Mr. President don’t leave Alan to die in Cuba.”

Mr. Gross’s letter expressed understanding that the administration has other pressing business, but Alan reminded the President that he is “waiting in real time” for the president to take “meaningful and decisive steps.” Playing on a slogan from Obama’s first campaign, he wrote, “I’m all fired up and ready to come home.”

He pointed out to the president that the thousands of men and women serving their country around the world “must not doubt” that if they get into trouble abroad that their government has their back; the administration’s indifference to his plight tells them otherwise.

In an impromptu Q&A, Judy initially deflected when the idea of a swap for the Cuban agents serving long sentences in U.S. prisons (known as the Cuban 5*) was brought up. However, when asked if she has thought about reaching out to the wives of those Cuban prisoners, she said that it was something she is considering.

As Judy described the hardships she and her husband have endured over the last four years, it was hard to not make the comparison to the hardships endured by the Cuban anti-terrorism agents and their families: weight loss, relatives suffering illness and death, missing out on key moments in their children’s lives, lock down, etc.

One important difference is that, Judy has been able to visit Alan periodically. She said, “The Cubans are very generous with my visits.” Meanwhile, for the past 15 years the U.S. government has denied Adriana Pérez’s requests to visit her husband Gerardo Hernandez who serving a life sentence without parole.

Judy Gross read from a letter her husband, Alan Gross, wrote to President Barack Obama pleading to help in securing his release from a Cuban jail. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Judy Gross read from a letter her husband, Alan Gross, wrote to President Barack Obama pleading to help in securing his release from a Cuban jail. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

But the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five, told Havana Times that while they prefer not to compare the two cases, they believe that both can be resolved if the U.S. government is willing to negotiate a humanitarian gesture-for-gesture based in mutual respect.

“The main focus of our campaign has been to ask President Obama to find a humanitarian solution…we believe [Gross’s] family has made a wise decision to focus on Obama instead of the Cuban government.  It is President Obama who has the key to solve both cases.”

This week has seen a flurry of messages to the President on Gross’s behalf. Senator Leahy drafted a letter to the president a letter, signed by nearly half of the Senate, asking the president to get personally involved. Earlier in the year, Leahy led a bicameral delegation to Cuba where they met with President Raul Castro, who is taking Gross’s case personally, according to one Congressman who was present.

Meanwhile a hand-full of Senators, led by the usual suspects Rubio and Menedez, who still will not admit that the embargo against Cuba has not worked after 50 years, wrote the President encouraging him to stick with the demand for “unconditional” release, disregarding Judy and Alan’s plea.

Representative John Delaney of Maryland’s 6th district along with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray stood with Judy Gross in front of the White House and called on the president to ensure Alan’s return. “Are we doing enough?” Delany asked. “He is not home, so no, it’s not enough.”
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*Rene González, of the Cuban 5 finished his sentence and returned to Cuba recently. Fernando Gonzalez Llort is due to be paroled February 2014. Antonio Guerrero’s sentence ends September 18, 2017 and Ramón Labañino’s on October 30, 2024—just two months before Alan Gross will finish his sentence in December 2024. Thus, leaving only Gerardo Hernández to spend the rest of his natural life in prison.


20 thoughts on “Alan Gross Faces Death in Cuba if Obama Doesn’t Change Approach, says wife

  • December 11, 2013 at 10:00 am
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    The fact that Obama is even paying lip-service to doing the the right thing on Cuba is an indication that the international pressure (from allies and rivals alike) may finally be getting to him. But, don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath. The chances of the US regime doing the right thing without a gun to its head is pretty slim. Your beloved genocidal embargo is probably good for another generation or two.

  • December 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm
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    OK, Dan, why don’t you hold your breath waiting for the EU and China to sanction the US on Cuba’s behalf. 1…2…3…4…
    (Thanks for my biggest laugh of the day so far)

  • December 9, 2013 at 11:36 am
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    What a limp-wristed excuse! Because other commenters don’t agree with your Castro-centric world view, you don’t want to comment? If you hadn’t noticed, Mr. Gross is being held hostage in Cuba. Only the Castros can decide his fate. Obama would have to exercise a Presidential Pardon to effect the release of the remaining four convicted Cuban spies. Do you have any idea the political capital he would have to expend to do that? Traditionally, US Presidents sign pardons on their last day in office just to avoid the shitstorm that ensues. Yes, Rubio and Menendez are powerful influences on US Cuban policy. As they should be as US Senators and, in the case of Menendez, as Chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Along with the other members of the Congressional Cuban Caucus, these men have been elected to Congress, in part, because of their views regarding US/Cuban relations. If you disagree with their views, you should work to replace them with representatives who share your leftist ideology.

  • December 9, 2013 at 11:20 am
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    America’s reputation as arrogant is based on policies far beyond little Cuba. Trading four Cuban spies for an American hostage will do very little, if anything, to change that reputation. While I do not share your opposite view of the impact of this trade, I respect your right to express it. So far, the US State Department agrees with me.. Finally, Keeping American tourists bringing dollars to Cuba goes a long way toward ensuring that Americans are welcomed, respected and kept safe in Cuba.

  • December 9, 2013 at 11:06 am
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    Indeed, it seems the only way the US regime will do the right thing is if it becomes too costly to do otherwise. Moral arguments hold absolutely no sway with that gang of thugs. Only meaningful counter-sanctions will work with them. How about it, Europe and China? Care to put your money where your mouth is?

  • December 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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    Dan,
    you have twisted the facts. Yes, the US has “rationalized” our policy
    towards Cuba for decades. The Castros have not changed their dictatorship, so
    US policy has essentially used the same justification for the embargo. However,
    where are the lies? The US has been fairly straightforward in its goals for the
    Cuban people. Freedom and democracy. Our end-game for Cuba is codified in
    Federal law. Again, what lies? You enjoy mentioning our closest allies as
    opposing our Cuba policy. Really? So they vote every year against our embargo
    and then what? Does it cost the US in our trade relations with any of the 188
    no votes. Are we limited internationally in any way because of this embargo?
    You see, the US does not need to say “go f*** themselves”. Our allies
    continue to be our allies despite their UN vote. There
    is nothing new about this at all.

  • December 8, 2013 at 9:14 am
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    John, I agree with you completely. Based on the history, the hypocrisy is absolutely laughable if it weren’t also so sad. The arrogance of the American government has become a joke around the world. That “holier-than-thou” attitude is only continuing to rob the American people of the world’s respect.

    Moses, you suggested that doing the exchange of Gross for the Cuban 4 would somehow send the wrong message to other nations around the world. That’s ridiculous. To the contrary…it would send exactly the right message. Continuing to demand for the unconditional release of Alan Gross only helps to reinforce America’s arrogant reputation around the world…further endangering the American people when they travel abroad. But surprisingly, that’s not true of Cuba. Despite all the injustice to the Cuban people at the hands of the American government and their policies, the American people are still welcomed, respected, and very safe when they travel to Cuba…if they respect Cuban law.

  • December 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm
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    I almost never comment on this site any more. Between Moses and Griffin it is impossible to have a rational discussion of any issue. It is more like watching Divorce Court Live, with the constant “He said! She Said” BS that comes straight out of the Joe McCarthy/J. Edgar Hoover era. I suppose it will end only when they are both to senile to post, as changing events and happenings around the World have no effect.

    That said, Obama has the ball. The outcome of this farce, which has become a tragedy, is in his hands. Are Rubio and Menendez, et al, so powerful that they have precedence Human Rights and Justice?

    Apparently so…

  • December 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm
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    There you go again. You and your pals have been spouting the same lies and rationalizations for decades to justify these cruel and inhumane sanctions of yours. And much to your everlasting frustration, no one, not groups like Amnesty International, not even your closest allies at the UN are buying into them. Yeah, I know, the rest of the world can go f— themselves, right, Moses? It’s the New America Way!

  • December 7, 2013 at 11:01 am
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    So
    you admit that the socialist ideal against which you measure the US has never
    existed except in your socio-political wet dreams?

  • December 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm
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    Castro supporters often use this argument to taunt the US into lifting the embargo. I agree that the embargo has not had a significant effect on daily life in Cuba. Castros’ economic policies and political repression have set up an internal embargo far more devastating to Cubans. Supporting the embargo does not mean that I do not want to see it lifted. Al contrario, I loo forward to the day when the Castros are gone, all political prisoners have been released, an independent media has been made legal, and open and transparent multiparty elections have been scheduled. I will be first in line to urge my Congressmen to lift the embargo. Until that time, I support continuing the less than “devastating” US embargo.

  • December 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm
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    And you know as well as I that no government that Griffin thinks is or was socialist is and /or was nothing of the kind.
    Even a heavily indoctrinated person like you knows that socialism and communism have to be based in a worker run, bottom-up democratic economy and no country, including Cuba meets that criterion.
    Hence socialism has never existed as any professor of either political science or economics would tell you were to attend an institution of higher learning rather than the Limbaugh Institute of Advanced Conservative Studies from whence you derive your information and developed your magnificent ignorance of what constitutes either socialism or democracy.

  • December 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm
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    If the US embargo was not having such a devastating effect on the Cuban people, why do you and your pals scream bloody murder at the suggestion of even loosening these cruel and inhumane sanctions. Just a bit more suffering, a few more dead babies and they will be begging for the Marines to come and rescue them. One more turn of the screw should do it right, Griffie?

    If you really believed that the embargo was nothing but an excuse by the Cuban leadership, you would say lift right away. But, of course, you know better don’t you?

  • December 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm
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    You need to check the Human Development Index of the U.N.’s World Health Organization to see how wrong you are.
    The Cubans rank inordinately high among the poor countries of the world in health , education and welfare despite the U.S. economic war on the people of Cuba .
    The Soviets – and I never was a friend of the Soviets – despite their lack of the democracy and bottom-up running of the society as dictated by socialist and communist .
    doctrine -went from having most of their economic infrastructure destroyed, 20 million of their people killed in WWII to being the 2nd leading economy in the WORLD in just 25 years .
    You couldn’t define either socialism or communism accurately with Das Kapital open in front of you .
    FYI, since both socialism and communism require a bottom-up democratic running of a society , neither socialism nor communism have ever existed or more importantly permitted to exist by the capitalist and imperial U.S. .
    The U.S. war on socialism and communism ( economic democracy) began with the invasion of the nascent Soviet Union in 1918 and continues to this day with the War On The People Of Cuba .
    The U.S has made more than 50 interventions into such attempts at establishing socialism around the world .
    Were socialism and communism the failures you claim they are why were all these interventions and killings necessary in such small and harmless countries as Nicaragua and Guatemala ?
    You can’t have it both ways.

  • December 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm
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    Griffin, the examples you listed above are only real-world models of the “economic democracy” that John Goodrich idealizes. You know very well that leftists would prefer to focus on the Marxists regimes that exists in their fantasies.

  • December 5, 2013 at 10:27 am
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    Fidel Castro retired some six years ago .
    He does not participate in any government affairs especially since he would not wish to interfere with his brother who replaced him.
    Cuba is not a rogue state.
    The USA IS a rogue state and if you’d like all the evidence (that you will automatically refuse to review) you can look up ” Rogue State” by William Blum ( ex-State Dept) and get a picture of a reality much different from the State Department approved crap you post.
    Further, to suggest that Gross was working for a NGO is disingenuous/a lie on your part as USAID is directly connected to the U.S. State Department and you know that as well as anyone .
    Gross KNEW what he was doing was illegal in Cuba, regardless of what you think of the laws, and had to know the risks of working to undermine a sovereign government . If his wife cared about him she would have prevented him from engaging in things that would likely get him incarcerated.
    The Cuban authorities may well allow critical remarks on Cuba as witnessed by the many writers at HT but they are certainly not going to allow open subversion of their system anymore than the U.S. would allow al-Qaeda to operate in the U.S. overtly or covertly.
    You seem to be a stranger to the realities of the world.

  • December 5, 2013 at 9:49 am
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    So the US embargo is to blame for the fact Cuba has not achieved the high standards of living of those other Socialist utopias like the Soviet Union & their East Bloc satraps, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Ho Chi Mihn’s Vietnam, Mengistu’s Ethiopia or North Korea under the Kims? All such brilliant examples of Marxist economic genius!

    Everywhere Marx’s insane political economic ideas have been implemented the results are economic ruin, starvation, slavery and mass murder.

  • December 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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    The US regime has no interest in freeing Gross. An expendable pawn, he is just another flimsy pretext for continuing the half-century-old, genocidal US trade sanctions targeting every man, woman and child on the island — sanctions that have been repeatedly condemned by Amnesty International and even by the regime’s closest allies at the UN General Assembly.

    Note that not even Amnesty International has questioned the outcome of Gross’s trial or called for his release. They have, however, condemned the Miami show trial of the Cuban 5 as a travesty.

  • December 4, 2013 at 11:39 am
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    “Meanwhile a hand-full of Senators, led by the usual suspects Rubio and Menedez, who still will not admit that the embargo against Cuba has not worked after 50 years….”
    Excuse me but the harsh living conditions in Cuba, the food shortages, the shortage of basic materials that are constantly thrown up by the corporate media and enemies of the revolution as signs that Cuban state-socialism ( i.e. NON-socialism with state control and distribution of the goods and services) does not work mean that the War On The People Of Cuba ( popularly and inaccurately called the embargo ) is indeed working.
    True it has not resulted in the Cuban people returning to feral capitalism as intended but it has produced the universal misery and /or hardships that were always aimed at the entire population. and for people like Menendez and Rubio that’s good enough .
    The entire purpose of turning the Cuban revolution around is to prevent it from being a success and consequently a good example for other countries in the world to follow and this has ALWAYS been central to U.S. foreign policy since the joint U.S./European invasion of the new Soviet Union in 1918 .

  • December 4, 2013 at 9:02 am
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    Despite the tragic and painful suffering experienced by the Gross family, President Obama must not capitulate to this rogue regime. Judy Gross told Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday that she believes her husband is “being held hostage” by the Castros. Even she realizes that the Castros have always intended to trade Alan for the convicted spies. Such a trade would endanger American NGO workers and tourists scattered around the world in those countries run by equally unscrupulous leadership. Cuba should release unilaterally release Mr. Gross before further negotiations take place.

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