Wife of Marylander detained in Cuba calls for release

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Three years after aid worker and Maryland native Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba, his wife, Judy, has detailed his deteriorating health conditions while again calling for his release.

Dozens of supporters met Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil outside the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

“He is frail, he has lost over 105 pounds, suffers from chronic pain and still does not know whether or not he has cancer,” says Judy Gross, who visited her husband in September.

“It’s a living nightmare,” she said during the vigil.

“Too many things have happened since he’s been gone — all the health problems and other issues — we really, really need him home.”

Alan Gross, who has been to about 50 countries, was working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

He was arrested in December of 2009 after being found with cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment in Cuba.

Alan Gross remains there in an 8-by-10 cell.

“At this point his health condition is questionable,” says Judy Gross.

“Until we get the correct test done, which we’ve had our expert look at, we won’t know for sure what the growth is on his shoulder,” she says.

Just last week the family learned Alan’s 90-year-old mother received a medical report that her condition was worsening and that the chemotherapy was no longer effective.

He has pleaded to be allowed to visit his mother on a humanitarian visit, fearing he may not see her before she dies.

On Sunday, Judy Gross called on the U.S. and Cuban governments to put their past behind them and negotiate a plan for her husband’s release.

“It means having dialogue over and over again. It means give and take. It means not stopping until Alan walks on U.S. soil again,” she said at the vigil.

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen also expressed hope that a deal could be reached.

“I am absolutely confident that justice will prevail and Alan Gross will be free,” he said.

Judy Gross said she was “more encouraged” after the vigil.

“I have to feel confident,” she says. “I don’t have any other way to feel.”

Follow @MollenbeckWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)