Refuses to Receive Most Visitors in Cuba

Wilfredo Cancio Isla (Café Fuerte)

Alan Gross (center) next to his wife Judy Gross and attorney Scott Gilbert during a prison visit at the end of 2013.

HAVANA TIMES — Alan Gross, the US citizen sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba, has lost the use of his right eye and refuses to receive most visitors owing to a profound state of depression.

“Alan’s situation is grave,” said attorney Scott Gilbert in his statements to CafeFuerte. “The governments of the United States and Cuba have to resolve this situation very soon or Alan will die in prison.”

Gilbert explained that 65-year-old Gross has already lost sight out of his right eye and that his hips have deteriorated to such an extent that he has been unable to do any type of exercise in the past two months.

“He has suffered a lot recently thinking about his mother’s death, having been unable to see her before her death or be with his family in this time of grief,” said Gilbert. “Because of his emotional state, he has refused to receive most visitors.”

Evelyn Gross died of cancer at 92 this past June 18 in Texas. Despite the family’s petitions to Raul Castro’s government, asking that Gross be permitted to attend the funeral, Cuban authorities turned down the request.

On April 2, Alan Gross began a hunger strike which he interrupted 11 days later at the request of his aged mother. The aim of the hunger strike was to protest over the lack of a solution to his case.

At the close of June, Gilbert and Judy Gross, Gross’ wife, visited him in his cell at the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital in Havana, where the prisoner is currently confined. During the visit, Gross’ family revealed that the US contractor had lost all hopes of returning to his country and was planning on ending his life.

Scott Gilbert, Gross’ lawyer
Scott Gilbert, Gross’ lawyer

Gilbert affirms that the situation has worsened and lays the blame for the tragic unfolding of the case on both Havana and Washington.

The Cuban government claims it is willing to find a “humanitarian” solution to the case, but only by negotiating the exchange of Gross for the three Cuban agents currently imprisoned in the United States [since 1998]. Washington has turned down this offer, alleging that the cases are entirely different.

Negotiating with Raul Castro

Recently, there was news that businesspeople Elon Musk and Shervin Pishevar, two magnates of the world of new technologies and faithful supporters of President Barack Obama, had accompanied actor Sean Penn to Havana at the beginning of last year to negotiate the release of Gross with the high spheres of government, to no avail.

Gilbert said he had no knowledge of that negotiation or its outcome.

The Gross case has become the bone of contention between Cuba and the United States, making it impossible for the Obama administration to make further progress in terms of bilateral relations with the island.

The December 3 will mark five years since Gross’ arrest in Cuba. He was detained in a hotel in Havana on the eve of his return to the United States, after delivering Internet communication technology to members of the island’s Jewish community.

A Cuban court tried and convicted Gross in March of 2010 on charges of undermining national security.

29 thoughts on “Cuba: Alan Gross Deep in Depression

  • As an African-American, I assure you that I am no fan of my American criminal justice system. The three remaining Cuban spies were clearly guilty of espionage. The only debate worth having in their cases is the length of their incarceration. Do you know have many lives of young African-American men have been ruined by excessive jail terms? If you are asking for special justice for these Cubans, I say get in line. Tying their freedom to Mr. Gross is unfair to Mr. Gross and really unfair to so many other men convicted of far lesser crimes than espionage. By the way, only people with small penises would resist a “penis-measuring contest”. The reality of foreign policy today is largely based on how big your military and your economy is. To suggest otherwise is naïve.

  • You continue to see foreign policy as a penis measuring contest. If we forget about Gross for a moment. What harm would there be in sending the Cubans home. The damage they did to the US was minimal, after all they Cuba isn’t about to launch an attack, they’ve done a huge amount of their sentence so there is still a deterrent in place. There was also serious issues with their original trial and the sentence was far to severe. So again why not send them home, it’s the right thing to do.

  • John, the US can do nothing to directly effect the release of Alan Gross. Raul, on the other hand, needs to consult with no one, save maybe Fidel, to give the order to release Mr. Gross. How can you suggest a false equivalency in the Gross case? While I agree that no one benefits should the Castros allow Gross to die in prison. It is clear, however, that exchanging the remaining 3 Cuban spies to purchase Gross’ release would be a clear victory for the rogue Castro regime. I realize that your hands are tied because you can not openly criticize the Castros and risk your travel business to Cuba, but privately I believe you can honestly see the difference between what the Castros would gain in a prisoner for hostage exchange and how American foreign policy would be weakened.

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