Cuba Pours Cold Water on Gross Release Hopes 3

Claims Jewish Contractor in Good Health in ‘Announcement’

By Paul Berger

Cuba has poured cold water on hopes that Alan Gross will be released from a Cuban prison cell anytime soon. In a statement released November 28, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials insisted that Gross’s health — which has been a recent cause for growing concern according to his family — is normal. Gross, a Jewish American contractor jailed on spying charges, is 63. A lawyer representing Gross, Jared Genser, recently reported Cuba to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture claiming that Gross was being given insufficient medical attention and that if it continued, it could constitute torture.

Gross’s health has deteriorated since he was jailed three years ago. He has lost more than 100 pounds. Cuban doctors now say that is because he was previously obese, the ministry statement said. Gross has also developed a mass on his shoulder. His family say it could be cancerous and they would like an oncologist of their choosing to examine him.

But Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says its own doctors performed a biopsy on October 24 and they insist that the mass is not carcinogenic. “This test could not be performed before due to Mr. Gross’ refusal,” the statement said. The ministry said it had provided details of its medical tests to U.S. diplomats in Cuba and to Gross’s wife Judy and to State Department officials in the U.S. on November 26.

“The Cuban medical team likewise ratified that the general health condition of Mr. Gross is normal and that he is receiving the treatment required by his diseases, including the chronic illnesses that are typical of his age, which he had been suffering from even before his detention,” the statement said.

It continued: “Mr. Gross maintains a systematic physical exercises regime on a voluntary basis and eats a balanced diet that includes foods of his choice, which has allowed him to get rid of his former obese condition. “His body weight is normal. Mr. Gross keeps in touch with his wife and family by phone on a weekly basis and receives consular visits every month.”

The statement came after Cuba promised an important “announcement” about Gross. That alert came hours after a New York rabbi visited Gross at a military hospital in Havana and told the Associated Press that he appeared to be in relatively good health. Rabbi Elie Abadie, who is also a gastroenterologist, told the AP that he met with Gross for 2-1/2 hours and also received a lengthy briefing from a team of Cuban physicians. Abadie said a growth on Gross’s shoulder appeared to be non-cancerous and it does not pose a serious health risk. “Alan Gross does not have any cancerous growth at this time, at least based on the studies I was shown and based on the examination, and I think he understands that also,” Abadie told the AP.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger

3 comments

  1. How is it possible to sentence a person to 15 years in jail on such vague and unsubstantiated charges as “spying” or “endangering Cuba’s independence and sovereignty” without any evidence or confessions?

    The MININT and MINREX have to be more specific and answer such questions as: was Alan Gross spying alone or did he have any accomplices inside Cuba. If so, who were these accomplices?

    Since Alan Gross was supplying computers to the Cuban Jewish community, the MININT and MINREX have again to state if anyone inside the Cuban Jewish community is guilty of spying together with Alan Gross. Is the Cuban Jewish community guilty of spying against Castro’s regime ? Have Alan Gross and his presumed spying accomplices in Cuba confessed to the charges being made against them?

    Castro’s regime has made use of MININT informers infiltrated into the Cuban communities in the US who gave evidence in court in order to support official allegations that Cuban exiles were engaging in acts of terrorism. Has anyone given evidence that Alan Gross engaged in hostile acts against Cuba?

    Does the Cuban penal code consider establishing a wireless internet connection an act of espionage or treason?

    In the absence of any clarifications or answers to such questions, the arrest, trial and sentencing of Alan Gross are examples of spy paranoia, typical not only of the final days of Castro’s dictatorship but also reminiscent of the Soviet Union under Stalin.

    Most dangerous is the implied hint that since “spy” Alan Gross was involved with the Cuban Jewish community, this group may be suspect of disloyalty to the regime and the Revolution.

    Of all Cuban leaders, it is Raúl Castro who should order MININT boss, Colomé Ibarra, to clean up the mess made by his overzealous and hyperactive G-2 boys and release Gross immediately.

    Sergio Klein
    Jerusalem
    Nov.30 2012

  2. Alan Gross previously denounced the U.S. government in a Cuban court and recently demanded the U.S. government for millions of dollars. He’ll be out of prison when he is 76 and his term expires. If he keeps denouncing the U.S. government, maybe they’ll reduce his sentence up to a year. Since Gross is an Israeli citizen, Israel should step up and trade him for Palestinian political prisoners.

  3. Alan Gross is not an Israeli citizen. Under the Israeli Law of Return he is entitled to become an Israeli citizen the moment he settles in Israel, otherwise he does not have Israeli citizenship.

    There is a difference between Alan Gross and Jonathan Pollard who spied in the US for Israel and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship and since 1985 all Israeli leaders have lobbied the US Administration for his release.

    Gross did not spy for Israel, was not granted Israeli citizenship an the last thing the Israeli government would like to see is Jews being taken and held hostage by dictatorial regimes worldwide and traded for Palestinian prisoners. I am not using the adjective “political” since the Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails are not prisoners of conscience as Cuban dissidents are. They were imprisoned for perpetrating acts of terrorism and for association with a terrorist organization and not for advocating freedom of speech and association as Cubans dissidents do. There is plenty of such freedoms in Israel where Arabs have their own political parties, are represented in the Knesset and have their own free press which is very critical of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. Even the standard of living of Israeli Arabs is higher than in any Arab country, except for the Arab emirates of the Persian Gulf.

    There was an attempt early this year to secure Alan Gross’s release by the Israeli-American pacifist Gershon Baskin who asked Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to use his good offices with Raúl Castro and lobby for Gross´s release on humanitarian grounds. In exchange to Gross´s release, Cuban-American Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was to unblock 143 million dollars in US aid which was frozen last year following the Palestinian Authority´s bid to win UN status. Castro refused Abbas´s mediation and now US rabbies are pinning their hopes on Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa.

    Sergio Klein
    Jerusalem
    November 30 2012

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