Action Alert: Help Free Alan Gross
September 6, 2011
As our movement grows stronger, there are moments when we can leverage our collective power to make a difference in the world. At the 2010 AZA and BBG August Executives Conference, a motion was passed by the BBYO International Executives Body to encourage the U.S. government, at all levels, to intensify diplomatic efforts to secure the quick release of Alan Gross of Maryland from Cuba. A year later, the Jewish Community is once again rallying together to free Gross. Gross is a former NRE BBYO staff member and an alumnus of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.
Cuban authorities have held Gross, 62, an international development expert for the Bethesda, Maryland-based Development Alternatives Inc. and a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), since December 2009. He was on assignment in Havana to provide communications equipment to the Cuban Jewish community to provide Internet access so they could connect with the global Jewish community. While abroad he was arrested by the Cuban government and over a year later was charged with “actions against the independence of the territorial integrity of the State,” and given a 15 year sentence. His appeals have been rejected, leaving the only legal option remaining to be an official change of legal penalty from President Raul Castro. Since his arrest, Gross has lost approximately 100 pounds, is suffering from partial paralysis among other ailments. His daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer and his mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter.
BBYO is working with the broader Jewish community to mobilize behind a petition initiated by the D.C. Jewish Community Relations Council. The petition appeals to Cuba’s leadership to release Gross on humanitarian grounds before Rosh Hashanah on September 29th. The petition has already received over 1,000 signatures since it was released on Monday and we are calling upon you to help the efforts we voted on more than a year ago. Please take the next 3 minutes to sign the petition.