Chairwoman Mikulski Renews Call for Alan Gross' Release

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
On Fifth Anniversary of Alan Gross' Arrest, Mikulski Renews Call for His Immediate Release from Cuba

Today, December 3rd, marks fifth anniversary of Alan Gross’ arrest in Havana

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today renewed her call for Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release Marylander Alan Gross from his imprisonment. Today, December 3, marks the fifth anniversary of his arrest in Havana.

“I have a message for Mr. Castro down in Cuba, let Alan Gross go! Let him go today, let him go now,” Senator Mikulski said. “For five years, he and his family have suffered. The Cuban government has ignored basic human rights and has shown they are not serious about building a relationship with the United States. Every day I think of and pray for the Gross family. I pray that they are reunited soon. If Cuba wants to improve relations with the United States, they need to release Mr. Gross now.”

Alan Gross was arrested on December 3, 2009. He was held for 14 months without being charged with a crime. After a two-day trial, he was given a 15-year prison sentence by Cuban authorities for facilitating communications between Cuba’s Jewish community and the rest of the world. Mr. Gross was in Cuba working as a sub-contractor for the United States Agency for International Development, helping a small, peaceful, non-dissident community. He was doing the type of work he had done his whole career in international development – helping others in need.

A 65-year-old husband and father, Mr. Gross has lost a significant amount of weight since his arrest and suffers from severe degenerative arthritis that affects his mobility, as well as other health problems. Members of his family have also faced serious illnesses during this time.

Senator Mikulski’s full statement, submitted to the Congressional Record, follows:

“I rise to recognize the fifth anniversary of the unfair arrest and imprisonment of an American citizen in Cuba from Maryland, Mr. Alan Gross. I stand with his wife, Judy, and their two daughters in calling for the immediate release of Mr. Gross by the Cuban government.

In 2009, Mr. Gross went to Cuba as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. On this visit to Cuba, he wanted to assist Cuba’s Jewish community by improving their access to the internet. With a background in social work, he dedicated his career to helping others around the world.

The Cuban government arrested Mr. Gross on December 3, 2009. He was held for 14 months without being charged with a crime. He was eventually charged as a spy and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

At 65 years old, Mr. Gross’ physical and mental health has suffered severely over the past five years. He has lost a significant amount of weight and developed several painful medical conditions. His contact with his family is extremely limited, compounding his anxiety. On his birthday, May 2, 2014, Mr. Gross made several statements that demonstrated the mental strain and anguish that he feels daily. Following the death of his mother in June, he was visited by his wife Judy and said his goodbyes to her. Mr. Gross’s current physical and mental state is at a critical point. The Cuban government must allow him to come home to the United States.

Judy Gross has never given up. She continues to put pressure on the Cuban government, speaking out against the poor treatment of her husband. She is a true inspiration, continuing her fight despite that health and financial challenges that her family has felt.

Every day I think of and pray for the Gross family. I pray that they are reunited soon. If Cuba wants to improve relations with the United States, they need to release Mr. Gross now. I thank my colleagues for standing with me and calling for the release of Alan Gross. I look forward to the day that we welcome him home to Maryland, and most importantly, to his family.”