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12/02/13 - Washington Post - Alan Gross, former USAID contractor jailed in Cuba, appeals to Obama to intervene 

By Karen DeYoung and Peter Wallsten

In a letter to the president, sent via the U.S. diplomatic mission in
Havana, Gross describes his isolation from the world, adding that his
daughter and mother have been stricken by cancer, his wife has had to sell
the family home in Maryland, and "my business and career have been

Indirectly critical of what his family has called lackluster efforts to
free him, Gross notes that this administration and its predecessors "have
taken extraordinary steps to obtain the release of other U.S. citizens
imprisoned abroad." But unlike in other cases, Obama has sent no special
emissaries or agreed to negotiate over him.

The letter, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, is to be
delivered to the White House on Tuesday - the anniversary of Gross's 2009
arrest in Havana. It is part of a new strategy by his family to direct
pressure at Obama, including in a demonstration Tuesday at the White House
led by his Gross's wife, Judy.

Gross's disenchantment with the administration over his treatment is shared
by a growing number of U.S. lawmakers, who see him as one of the last
victims of the Cold War and the decades-long freeze in U.S.-Cuba relations
that has persisted despite Obama's early pledges to work toward a thaw.

In a letter to the president last month, a bipartisan group of 66 senators,
spearheaded by Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), called Gross's case "a matter of
grave urgency" and urged Obama to "act expeditiously to take whatever steps
are in the national interest to obtain his release." The senators told
Obama that they "stand ready to support your administration in pursuit of
this worthy goal."

A week earlier, a separate bipartisan group of 14 lawmakers, led by Cuban
American Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), exhorted
Obama to continue his policy of demanding Gross's "immediate and
unconditional release."

In a statement Monday, Leahy countered that "instead of simply demanding
Mr. Gross' unconditional release - which has achieved nothing in four
years, and which his family regards as a death sentence - they should not
shrink from the obligation to negotiate for his freedom."

Gross, a 64-year-old Maryland native, was detained while distributing
communications equipment to Jewish groups in Cuba under a contract with the
U.S. Agency for International Development. He was convicted in 2011 of
crimes against the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years.

His continuing imprisonment comes as the administration has eased
restrictions on American travel to Cuba and held direct negotiations over a
range of issues, including immigration, postal services and cooperation on
possible oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida.

Although critical of the Cuban government's continued restrictions on civil
rights and personal freedom, Obama has indicated that he has little
sympathy for the trade embargo and economic sanctions imposed on Cuba more
than a half-century ago.

Original Source / Fuente Original:


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