Van Hollen Asks President Carter to Advocate for Release of Alan Gross
Mar 29, 2011 -
Yesterday Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen wrote to former President Jimmy Carter to ask that, during his current trip to Cuba through the Carter Center, he advocate for the immediate release of Alan Gross. The full text of the letter is below:
I understand that you are currently visiting Cuba on a mission on behalf of the Carter Center. I respectfully encourage you to use the occasion of your visit and the access your status as a former president of the United States affords you to advocate for the immediate release of my constituent Alan Gross.
As you are probably aware, Mr. Gross sat in prison for a year before the Cuban government officially charged him with a crime. Then, suddenly, Mr. Gross was accused of engaging in crimes against the state, tried, and sentenced to a 15 year prison term in rapid succession.
According to U.S. government reports, Mr. Gross was in Cuba as part of a USAID contract to improve intra-faith communication among Cuban Jews within and outside of the country. After visiting the island on numerous occasions without incident, Mr. Gross was detained by Cuban authorities at the airport as he prepared to return to the United States. Despite the protests of members of Congress, his family, and others, the Cuban government refuses to release Mr. Gross.
Mr. Gross suffers from health problems that are aggravated by his confinement and lack of access to adequate medical care. The U.S. government has raised this with Cuban authorities to no avail. With each passing day, his already fragile health declines further.
Mr. President, your reputation for fairness and your strong advocacy for justice around the world have made you a credible and respected voice on the issue of human rights. Your support of Mr. Gross could go a long way toward persuading the Cuban government to grant his release.
Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress