Will Pope’s Visit Bring Alan Gross’ Release?
On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba to meet with Raul Castro. Anticipation for this visit has been building since December, when the Cuban government announced that it would release 2,900 prisoners in advance of the Pope’s arrival. However, notably absent from the list of prisoners to be released was Maryland Jew Alan Gross. The Pope’s visit this week provides a prime opportunity to reiterate the call for Gross’ release on humanitarian grounds.
While visiting Cuba in December 2009 to help the Cuban Jewish community improve its access to the Internet, Gross was arrested by the Cuban government and later sentenced to 15 years in prison. Since then, Gross’ health has been deteriorating, and his mother and daughter in the U.S. have been battling cancer. The Jewish community, along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former Cabinet Secretary and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, has been a vocal advocate for Gross’ release.
While the relationship between religion and government has been rocky in the Communist country, tensions have eased somewhat in recent years, perhaps making the moment ripe for a successful call to release Alan Gross. Judy Gross, his wife, has called on the Pope to seize this moment and help secure her husband’s release.
As members of the Jewish community, we can also take action: Sign this petition to urge the Cuban government to release Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds.