An American aid worker jailed unjustly in Cuba is marking his 29th month behind bars. Alan Gross, 63 years old and suffering from arthritis, was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, while working as a subcontractor on a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development helping members of Cuba’s small Jewish community gain access to the Internet. For this, he was convicted on charges of acting against Cuba’s independence and territorial integrity. Despite repeated pleas for humanitarian consideration by the United States and international community, Cuban officials continue to reject calls for his release.
There is another way, however, in which authorities can show compassion for the ailing Mr. Gross. We ask that the Cuban government grant Mr. Gross’s humanitarian request to travel to the United States to visit his 90-year old mother suffering from inoperable lung cancer, which prevents her from traveling to Cuba.
A U.S. court recently granted a similar request to Rene Gonzalez. One of five Cuban intelligence agents arrested in the United States and convicted of various crimes, he completed his prison sentence last October. Under the terms of his supervised release he can’t leave the U.S. without court permission. In March, though, he was granted two-week leave to be with his brother Roberto who, like Mrs. Gross, has lung cancer and cannot travel. He returned to the U.S. April 13. Alan Gross’s desire to see his ailing mother deserves similar consideration; and yet the Cuban government refuses to make this simple humanitarian gesture.
The Obama Administration again calls on the Cuban government to allow Mr. Gross to see his ailing mother, and will continue to use every appropriate diplomatic channel to urge the Cuban government to release Mr. Gross unconditionally so he may return to his family, where he belongs.