October 19, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I write out of deep concern about recent reports that the Administration is considering to dramatically ease United States policy towards the totalitarian regime in Cuba, even as the regime continues to hold a fellow innocent American hostage.
During her testimony before Congress on October 14th, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Sherman confirmed that the Administration had recently met with the Cuban Government to discuss the ongoing imprisonment of Mr. Gross. On the same day, the State Department's spokesperson confirmed other issues of "mutual interest" were discussed, including the possibility of unilaterally easing restrictions by expanding the number of airports authorized to handle U.S. travel to Cuba. Can you provide details about who participated in these discussions on each side and where did the discussions take place? Can you provide a detailed list of actions taken by Administration in the last twenty months to convey U.S. Government displeasure with the unjust imprisonment of Mr. Gross?
I was encouraged to hear that the Administration continues to advocate for Mr. Gross' humanitarian release. However, I am concerned about recent statements by the Department's spokesperson that raised questions about the extent of such commitment. Has the Administration considered or proposed releasing members of the 'Wasp Network' in exchange for Mr. Gross' freedom? Has the Administration considered or proposed releasing any other Cuban nationals in exchange for Mr. Gross' release? Has the Administration considered negotiating Mr. Gross' release under conditions other than an unconditional humanitarian release?
In addition to continuing to hold an innocent American hostage, the Cuban regime's repression of peaceful dissent has reached alarming new levels. According to the Havana-based Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the regime arrested at least 563 activists for political reasons in September 2011, the highest number in the last 30 years. Yet, media reports indicate that the Administration is willing to reduce U.S. democracy programs in Cuba and end a program that makes it easier for Cuban medical personnel to move to the United States and flee the enslaved labor conditions under which Cuba keeps them in foreign countries. Can you firmly deny that the Administration has ever considered or could consider taking such actions? Does the Administration consider U.S. democracy programs in Cuba a cornerstone of its foreign policy?
Thank you for your attention to this matter. As you know, U.S. policy toward Cuba is of enormous importance to me and many of my constituents, and I look forward to your timely response to these questions.
United States Senator
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