March 23, 2010
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Forty members of the U.S. House of Representatives
signed a letter warning Cuba that improved relations are contingent on
the release of a jailed Jewish American.
Alan Gross, 60, has been held since Dec. 3; he was arrested while
reportedly assisting the Cuban Jewish community to connect to the
Internet. His congressman, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), initiated
"It is our understanding that at the time of his arrest, Mr. Gross was
in Cuba to help the Jewish community improve their ability to
communicate with Jews, both in Cuba and overseas," said the letter sent
Tuesday. "He was working pursuant to a U.S. government contract. Mr.
Gross's work in Cuba emanated from his desire to make a positive impact
for others of his faith on the island."
The Cuban government has banned such U.S. Agency for International
"The arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Gross is viewed with great
consternation by the government of the United States, including both
Democrat and Republican Members of the United States Congress, whether
liberal or conservative," the letter said. "It has caused many to doubt
your government's expressed desire to improve relations with the United
States. We cannot assist in that regard while Mr. Gross is detained in
a Cuban prison. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to
immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross and allow him to
return to his family in the United States."