Bring Alan Home!

It breaks my heart to read about Alan Gross (World Briefs: “Alan Gross goes on hunger strike,” April 11). Alan and I go back to fifth grade at Campfield Elementary School, when his family first moved to Baltimore and he showed up in my class on the first day of school. We became instant friends and stayed close through high school. We joined Chesapeake AZA together. I remember frequently staying for dinner and sleeping over at his house when we were kids. We lost track of each other in college and reconnected, like many in our generation, on Facebook a few years ago. I remember meeting his wife when they were dating, early in our college days.

I lived in Miami from 1978 to 1984, and I understand the hurt of losing a business, or worse, losing your country. Two of my grandfather’s brothers left Cuba after having their businesses confiscated by the Castro government. Many cannot stomach the idea of any contact with Cuba. Their representatives, Bob Menedez, Democratic senator from New Jersey, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican congressional representative from Florida, do not want the U.S. to make a deal with Castro. Cuba is personal to them.

Alan Gross is personal to me. The United States could negotiate his release, probably in exchange for the three remaining prisoners of the Cuban Five.

If Israel can negotiate with Hamas to release an Israeli soldier, if we can have trade relations with Russia, China and Vietnam, then we can talk about a prisoner swap with Cuba.

Alan went to Cuba on a U.S. government program. I’m sure he thought the government would help him out if he got in trouble. If our government can’t help this one man, then no one working for the U.S. can feel safe. It is up to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who attended Sudbrook Junior High School with Alan and me, to find a diplomatic solution and bring my good friend home to his family.

Barry Wendell
Morgantown, W. Va.


  1. humbertocapiro says

    Alan Gross is not a spy! Even the Cuban “government” said so. What is needed is to cut off all economic ties with the Castros and then they will let go of Alan real soon!
    N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

    Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

    Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.


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