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Alan P. Gross
Havana, Cuba
Dear friend:
That is how I am compelled to address you, because even though we have
never met, we share a common bond: I too lived behind the iron bars now
surrounding you in Cuba — in my case for 22 years.
Like you, I was convicted by the Cuban authorities without a single
shred of evidence against me.
I know the anguish of interminable days and endless nights, the feeling
of helplessness when you know yourself to be innocent. I also know the painful
sense of the lack of solidarity from outside the prison walls.
I have no doubt that your greatest pain right now must be the
realization that the U.S. government has turned its back on you. There was a
time when the words “I am an American citizen” meant something. They meant all
the more when the individual declaring that was the target of abuse outside of
the United States. It meant: “I have rights and they are recognized by the
government of my country and they will ensure that you, too, respect my
rights.”
It gives me great sadness to say that inside the Communist boot that
now tramples upon your dignity is the foot of the American president, Barack
Obama.
The more Castro’s thugs oppress you and make your family suffer, the
more your jailers torture you, the harder things get for you — the more this
administration seeks to reward them with new concessions. How is it that in 53
years of Cuba’s brutal dictatorship it was only months after Obama came to the
presidency that the Castro brothers first decided to take an American citizen
hostage?
How is it possible that the American administration has turned its back
on you?
The pronouncements by the U.S. Department of State that U.S. officials
are doing “everything they can” to secure your freedom are absolutely false.
They are hypocritical statements not backed by any real action. Under any
previous U.S. administration, Democrat or Republican, you would not still be in
jail.
Your case has no precedent in the history of the United States. You are
in prison because of the supreme cowardice of the American president and his
secretary of state. Whether they know it or not, the key to your cell is inside
President Obama’s pocket.
The White House has abandoned you. It does not matter to them that you
may be very ill and slowly dying.
It does not matter to them that your daughter has cancer, or that your
wife, too, is ill.
The American president, who has made a habit of publicly bowing to
foreign powers, bows to your torturers and would-be executioners. Meanwhile,
the adult daughter of Cuba’s dictator recently visited the U.S. to applaud and
show her support for President Obama. She receives a visa to come to the United
States and a Secret Service escort. And you; you suffer the torture of
imprisonment.
The Obama administration must step up its efforts to press for your
release through its diplomatic channels. Should those diplomatic efforts fail,
then they must be followed by real action, including the suspension of flights
and remittances to Cuba until such time as you are allowed to return to the
United States. If the Obama administration even threatened to do this it is my
considered judgment that you would be on the next flight back to your home in
Washington, D.C.
Only with real action will your freedom be secured. Unfortunately, if
past is prologue, such action is unlikely to ever happen with this
administration.
After I was released from prison, President Ronald Reagan appointed me
as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. During my
tenure at the U.N., we managed to expose to the world, for the first time,
Cuba’s systematic violations of fundamental rights and freedoms. You know these
violations all too well. They are now marked on your own flesh. You will have
your day in the international court, too. You will have the opportunity to
expose your jailers and the suffering they have imposed on 11 million people
for more than half a century.
Please do not lose faith. You are not alone in that cell. God is there
with you, along with the love of your brave wife and the firm commitment of
those of us who continue to fight for your freedom. Do not give in to despair
or to the treachery of those who have abandoned you. I am convinced, from my own
experience, that you will return home, against all hope …
You are always in my prayers.
Armando Valladares

http://feeds2.feedburner.com/ArmandoValladares
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