The wife of Alan Gross, the U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Havana for the past three years, says she hopes that the reelection of President Barack Obama will open the door to a White House effort to free her husband.
To be honest, I am losing some hope. After three years, its only natural, said Judy Gross. But I guess I have some renewed hope, now that the elections are over, that the White House can get involved in getting Alan out of Cuba.
Gross detention in Havana since Dec. 3, 2009 has become the key roadblock in Obama administration hopes of improving relations with Havana on issues such as migration, drug smuggling and possible maritime oil spills.
But to Judy Gross her husband is a man unfairly imprisoned who should be freed as soon as possible to rejoining his family in Potomac, Md., and comfort his 90-year-old mother Evelyn, due to start a new round of chemotherapy for cancer soon.
Alans mother says she doesnt care about her health, that all she cares about is seeing Alan again, Judy Gross said in a telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald. And I just want him home as soon as possible.
Alan Gross, 63, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for delivering satellite telephones to Cuban Jews, paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development under a pro-democracy program outlawed by Havana as part of a bid to topple the communist system.
The phones allow access to the Internet and people abroad but bypass the governments closely monitored telephone monopoly. Cuba says delivering them amounted to acts against its independence or territorial integrity.
Judy Gross said her husband first went to the island with a group of other Jews to learn about the tiny Jewish community and deliver medicines, food and other humanitarian assistance.
He just fell in love with the community because hes a humanitarian and a real people person, she recalled. So he wanted to go back and help them. They were so isolated, they even needed food.
Gross said her husband now suffers from chronic pains and has a lump on his shoulder that Havana authorities insist is not malignant, even though a U.S. physician who has read some of the medical reports says they do not rule out a cancer.
We dont understand why Cuba doesnt allow in a third-party medical person for an independent check, and that makes us suspicious that maybe there is something wrong that they are hiding, she added.
During his three years detained in a Navy hospital, the six-foot Alan Gross dropped from almost 250 pounds to about 150 pounds, his wife said, and thats also frightening, because the Cubans say they give him three meals a day and I know hes eating.
He now weighs less than I do, she joked, adding that the couple speak by telephone about once a week.
Judy Gross conceded that in the first months of her husbands detention she did not publicly criticize the Cuban government, hoping to avoid angering Havana and thereby perhaps prolonging Alans time in prison.
But she has been steadily turning up the volume on her demands, now often picketing outside the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington and this fall hiring human rights lawyer Jared Genser to push Alans cause on the international stage.