Cuban officials are poised to make an important "announcement" this
morning about the plight of Alan Gross, a Jewish contractor held in a
Cuban jail for almost three years.
Media have been told to expect an announcement around 9 a.m., the
The 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.
The flurry of activity came amid speculation that Cuba may hope to use
Gross's possible release to improve relations with the U.S., especially
after the reelection of President Obama, who in the past has called for
an end to the 50-year-old embargo of the island nation.
Cuba expert Jaime Suchlicki, of Miami University, published an article
in the Miami Herald hinting that Cuba is considering a pardon for Gross.
Suchlicki, director of the university's Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies, told the Forward that his source is a former
Cuban intelligence official living in Miami.
An ardent critic of the Castro regime, Suchlicki said he hoped that the
Obama Administration would make no concessions if Gross was freed.
Cuban officials said they did not know if such a pardon has even been
Alan's wife, Judy Gross, did not return a call for comment.
The developments follow several weeks of intense pressure on the Cuban
and American governments to resolve Gross's case.
Gross was arrested in Havana, in December 2009, while working as an
independent subcontractor for the United States Agency for International
Development. He claimed to have been trying to help improve internet
access for the island's Jewish community, but he was accused of working
to subvert the Cuban government.
When Gross was arrested, he was found in possession of high-tech
satellite equipment commonly used by the Defense Department.
In recent weeks, Gross's wife Judy and a human rights lawyer, Jared
Genser, have embarked on a campaign to draw greater attention to the
case and to increase pressure on the Cuban regime. Gross' supporters saw
the time as ripe, coming soon after Barack Obama's re-election to a
The Gross campaign strategy included reporting Cuba to the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture claiming that an insufficient
amount of medical attention was being given to Alan and that it
constituted torture. Gross's health has deteriorated rapidly since he
was jailed. He has lost more than 100 pounds and he has developed a mass
on his shoulder, which Cuba insists is not life-threatening but that his
family says could be cancerous.
On November 16, Alan and Judy Gross filed a lawsuit against the U.S.
government and Development Alternatives Inc, the contractor that sent
Gross to Cuba, claiming that they failed to adequately train him or warn
him of the risks of working in Cuba.
Contact Paul Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pdberger