Menendez Statement on Alan Gross

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Menendez Statement on Two-Year Anniversary of Alan Gross' Detention in Cuba

WASHINGTON – United States Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, released the following statement on the second anniversary of the Castro regime's incarceration of Alan Gross, a USAID contractor who was in Cuba to facilitate the communications capacity of the island’s Jewish community:

The Castros continue to use American Alan Gross as a pawn in a tragic diplomatic game. Jailed in Cuba on charges of crimes against the state for trying to distribute satellite equipment with internet capability to Jewish groups on the island, Alan Gross has lost more than 100 pounds, has difficulty walking due to arthritis, and has been kept from his mother and daughter who are battling cancer. The United States, should not be blackmailed into releasing convicted Cuban spies or terminating U.S. democracy programs on the island in order to secure his release.

The Cubans through their continued detention of Gross have shown the world the true nature of the regime, which is sustained through violence, tyranny, and repression of even the most basic human and civil rights and based in neither political or economic ideology, but on the common and simple model of authoritarian rule designed to sustain its leaders and preserve their power.

Today, I call on President Obama to demand the release of Alan Gross and repeal the regulatory changes made on January 14, 2011 that have provided an economic lifeline to the regime through a historic easing of travel and remittances to the island. These changes, which were purportedly taken in hopes of advancing a democratic opening on the island, have had no effect, as evidenced by the nearly daily repression of democracy activists on the island and the continued unjust imprisonment of Alan Gross. They should be repealed. We cannot ignore the reality that it is not U.S. policy, but Cuban policy that is responsible for the Castros’ unabated tyranny