Van Hollen Leads Bipartisan Congressional Letter Urging Release of Alan Gross
Letter Calls Gross’s Continued Incarceration a Major Setback in Bilateral Relations
Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen and 72 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Cuban Government urging the immediate and unconditional release of Alan Gross. Mr. Gross, who has dedicated his life to providing humanitarian assistance and was in Cuba as part of a USAID contract to provide support to members of the Cuban Jewish community when he was arrested, has been held in prison Cuba since December 3, 2009.
The full text of the letter is below:
December 1, 2011
Mr. Jorge Bolaños
Chief of Mission
Cuban Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland
2639 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Dear Mr. Bolaños,
It is with deep concern that we write to you regarding the ongoing imprisonment by your government of Alan P. Gross. On the eve of the second anniversary of his arrest and detention in Cuba, and with the legal process having formally concluded, his fate and that of his family now lie in the hands of your president, Raúl Castro. The Cuban Government has indicated that it would be open to resolving Mr. Gross’s case through diplomatic channels. We hope that you will honor that commitment and release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds immediately.
After two years in a Cuban prison, Mr. Gross and his family have paid an enormous personal price for his actions in Cuba. Mr. Gross has lost 100 pounds and suffers from numerous medical conditions. In addition, the Gross family situation is one that warrants compassion. As you know, Mr. Gross’s daughter and mother are both fighting cancer, and his wife is struggling to make ends meet. We respectfully urge the Cuban Government to immediately release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds and allow him to be reunited with his loved ones.
As Mr. Gross explained to both the trial Court and Cuba’s Supreme Court, his intention was never to harm the Cuban Government in any way. In fact, Mr. Gross spoke in court of his affection for the Cuban people and respect for the island’s sovereignty. As we mark two years since Mr. Gross has been in Cuban custody, we hope that your government will release Alan so he may return to his family.
In light of the above, Mr. Gross’s continued incarceration is viewed by all Members of Congress, regardless of their political views on Cuba, as a major setback in bilateral relations. It is unlikely that any further positive steps can or will be taken by the Obama Administration or this Congress as long as Mr. Gross remains in a Cuban jail. We urge your government in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross so that we can move forward.
Chris Van Hollen
Bill Pascrell, jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr
C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger
W. Todd Akin