Cuba: Alan Gross Deep in Depression

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.

  • Open courts belong to democratic societies with freedom of information, freedom of the media and freedom of expression. Cuba offers none of these but has a Socialist regime controlled by the Castro Ruz family where open courts -such as the one Fidel Castro Ruz addressed with his “history will absolve me” plea are not normal.

  • The government of the United States of America and the government of Cuba should feel great shame at their inability to provide an opportunity for Alan Gross to visit with his mother before her death or to attend her funeral.

    Either side could have broken the impasse if it climbed down from its political self-righteousness and hard-line bargaining stance.

    It no longer matters who is most at fault. Both have lost the opportunity to show they put human compassion first.

    Ideally the much desired and much rumored deal can be quickly made that allows each country to gain what is of most enduring interest while maintaining its pride.

    Under respective laws Alan was guilty and the five were guilty. The fairness of the trials leaves much to be desired and the sentences were excessive. The bottom line is all were willing instruments of outdated policies and have paid an unjustified price.

    The only people who will benefit from Alan’s death in prison are the ultras in Florida and New Jersey, and their acolytes in these comments, who seem to have immobilized the President.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  • Alan Gross is not a spy! Even the Castro “government” had to admit that! He is a hostage to trade for the Cuban 5 Spies but is not an apples to apples trade! Funny that in Cuba now cell phones and other technology is allowed which are similar to what Mr. Gross brought in!

    N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012
    Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

    Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.


  • If Alan Gross was guilty of all the charges, why was his trial such a secret?

    HAVANA TIMES, March 5— The trial of US citizen Alan Gross began behind
    closed doors in Havana on Friday but you wouldn’t know it by Cuban press

    The official Granma newspaper and its sister Juventud Rebelde make no mention
    of the trial that is the top news item regarding Cuba in the international

    However,, the leading official online website, did run a brief
    article on the subject by the Prensa Latina news agency.

  • The Cuban government, aka Raul, has the power to release Gross today. They do not require anything from the US to do so. In fact, if they did release him, then Obama would have an easier time to further relaxing the embargo.

    However, if Gross dies in prison, then the Castros can forget about any favours from the US for a long time. Obama has already released 2 of the Cuban Five. The ball is clearly in Raul’s court.

  • Pray tell, how does one go about “pressuring” the Castros? Please enlighten me as to your strong-arm tactics so I too can strike fear into the heart of Raul and he will instantly do my bidding.

    Back in the real world now where I live…I have the ability to cut through the crap and quickly resolve situations WITHOUT letting politics get in the way of achieving success. The solution is quite simple…but it takes politics to turn it into something of a chess game…with the lives of real human beings hanging in the balance….and to what end? The life of Alan Gross is in your government’s hands. Your government will be held responsible for Mr. Gross dying in Cuba…especially when the means to bring him home has continually been dismissed out of spite and indifference. Don’t worry…he’ll die there soon, and the problem will then just go away. Problem solved. We soon won’t need to talk about it anymore.

  • Alan Gross knew exactly what he was doing and got caught. Why should the Cuban government give him leniency? Alan’s blood will not be on the hands of the “Castro regime”, it will be on the Alan’s own stupidity and greed. He is only a small pebble in a big pond.

  • Your drive-by comment style is so predictable. You inject lies as if you are telling some supreme truth when the reality is you haven’t shared an original thought here at HT in years, if ever. You simply parrot the Castro propaganda. The three Cubans still in prison were SPIES. The FBI did not need their information. They had been under surveillance long before their handlers turned them in to make martyrs of them. Nine of their comrades admitted their crimes, provided eyewitness and physical evidence against the five in accepting plea deals. Two of these comrades escaped to Cuba but the remaining spies remained in the US under witness protection. Everything Gross brought into Cuba was available at Radio Shack EXCEPT one SIM card that allows cell phone calls to remain largely undetected by current detection technology. Secret phone calls? Is that the weakness of the revolution? If it were so dangerous, why not confiscate it at the airport? I don’t expect you to answer that. You never do. Your Castro playbook hasn’t given you an answer for that one.

  • Yes, in a prison ward styled after Cuba’s former wetnurse, the Soviet Union’s prisons or “gulags”. In order to construct this facility, the Castros had to use Soviet money and design.

  • He hasn’t. Like Daniel in the lion’s den, Gross may still come out on top despite what it looks like to us today.

  • Quite the opposite. I am hoping that even after 55 years of tyranny, there remains some shred of humanity in the decrepit Cuban leadership. I would expect the same from Obama if one of the remaining three Cuban spies had failing health as does Gross.

  • If you really cared about Alan Gross, you would be pressuring the Castros to release him. Instead, you are just as bad as the Castros and what you really want is another ‘gotcha’ against the bad ole’ USA.

  • Alan Gross only real “crime” was – as shown at the trial – not declaring a chip he had. As far as “undermining” the regime: not one act of any Cuban has been documented neither at the trial nor since then of any act against the regime using equipment he brought or handled. Nobody else but him has been convicted or accused in this matter.

    The “Cuban 5” were ringleaders of a spy-ring that spied on military installations, US companies, US NGO’s and individuals living in the US.
    Acts of spying on military targets including an attempt to infiltrate a US base have been proven in their trials.

  • Okay, let’s have the US do nothing then….and nothing good will happen. Oh, but the US can take solace in the notion that Alan Gross died protecting your precious principles. I’m sure Alan fully understands that the continued imprisonment of 3 Cubans in the US is worth more than his life as an American.

  • ”Castro sycophants can kiss normal relations with the US goodbye for the
    near future if the Castro let that poor man die in their gulag.”

    You seem almost giddy with Joy.

  • No respect for Cuban law? The Castro regime is a corrupt criminal mafia. They have no respect for the Cuban people or the rule of law. They are nothing more than gangsters, extortionists and murderers.

    You’re damn right I have no respect for them!

  • why has god deserted Alan Gross?

  • he clearly trusted his usaid handler and their promise to his wife.

  • gulag? he is in a military hospital is he not?

  • If anyone is reading these comments who doesn’t already know about the Gross case and how the opponents of Cuba habitually lie, let me suggest you do a little research on your own. The details of what Gross did were on his own computer thumb drives and presented at the trial and are on the web. He used equipment that is not only not sold in Radio Shack, but costs many thousands of dollars. He had a special radio chip only available to the CIA and US State Department. He was offered a huge sum to do his illegal work. He knew the risk and took it for the money.

    As to the Cuba 5 (now 3 left in US prisons), they were not convicted of spying. They did break US law, but were doing it to prevent Cuban exiles in Florida from committing illegal and terrorist acts. They gave the information they found to the FBI, but instead of arresting the terrorists, the US arrested the Cuban agents. Do a bit of reading and you will quickly see how many lies are told by some of the commentators.

  • I will personally protest President Obama should he capitulate to the demands of the tyrannical Castro regime. Should Gross die in prison, his blood is on Castro hands. Castro sycophants can kiss normal relations with the US goodbye for the near future if the Castro let that poor man die in their gulag.

  • The Castros authorized their thugs to snatch Mr. Gross for purely political purposes. If he had really been a ‘national security threat’ as they say, why did they wait until his FIFTH trip to arrest him? If his laptop and cellphones were so dangerous, why not confiscate them at the airport when he arrived and put his butt back on the plane to the US? It’s because it didn’t occur to them until his 5th trip that he might have value in a prisoner exchange. Obama is many things, but a butt kisser ain’t one of them. A weakness in his presidential style is that he doesn’t kiss enough Congressional butt to get anything done. Why mention respect Terry? The Castros have disrespected the US since 1959. Read any given Fidel speech to hear how disrespectful he has been of the US. The Castro solution is no solution. The remaining 3 Cuban spies were convicted in an open and public trial where fellow Cuban spies from the Wasp Network gave eyewitness testimony towards their guilt. Gross was arrested and detained on specious charges based on technology you can buy at Radio Shack. His trial was closed to the public and no transcripts have been published. Even Raul Castro has said Gross is no spy. He traveled under his real name! The two cases are completely unrelated. Why embolden tyrants to do more of the same by capitulating to their hostage-taking scheme. We do agree on one thing though. Should Gross die while imprisoned in his Cuban gulag, the Castros can kiss normal relations with the US in the near term goodbye. The clock is indeed ticking.

  • And what humanitarian gesture is the US government prepared to offer? We all know what would set Alan Gross free tomorrow. Hostage-takers….my A$$! Moses, that’s so helpful. NO RESPECT is a better way to describe you and your government. No respect for Cuban law…and no respect for Alan Gross either. It seems that the Cuban government cares more for Alan Gross than your butt kissing president….at least Cuba has offered a solution to this ordeal. In the grand scheme of things….who really cares whether the two cases are similar? It’s a solid solution…and the clock is ticking.

  • The ball appears to be in the US ‘court’. If he croaks in prison, I doubt the people of Gaza won’t be shedding any tears.

  • The Alan Gross case is very tragic. He clearly underestimated the Castros. Given everything else going on in the world, President Obama has no political space to give in to these Cuban hostage-takers. The only real solution is for the dictatorship to unilaterally release Gross for humanitarian reasons.

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