Dear Fidel, Let My Person Go


Dear Fidel,

Okay, you and your brother have made your point. Now that the Cuban government has secured the conviction of Alan Gross, an American who was charged with spying for bringing to Cuba contraband communications devices for the benefit of your country's Jewish community, it is time to let him go. A 15-year jail sentence for carrying a satellite phone? Really?

Gross isn't a spy. He's an aid worker. Was his mission wise? Yes, from an American perspective. He was simply trying to help people communicate freely. I understand that this is not your vision of the way the world should work (though where I am currently located, in the Arab Middle East, this idea -- of free communication among people -- seems to be catching on rather quickly).

Last fall, when you and I met in Havana, I was impressed by your grasp of Jewish history, and your condemnation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for perpetrating lies about the Holocaust. You have an excellent understanding of Jews, and you of course know that Jews feel a need to help other Jews. This is what Alan Gross was doing; he was trying to help connect the small (and, yes, non-persecuted) Jewish community in Cuba to the larger Jewish community in the U.S.)

Gross is a 61-year-old man with health problems who nevertheless travels to other countries to help people. He is not an enemy of Cuba. So, please, let him go. And I have the perfect moment for you to arrange his release: Passover, the holiday in which Jews celebrate their liberation from slavery in Egypt, is coming up in a month. It would be a welcome gesture on the part of the Cuban government to let Gross come home to his family in time for Passover.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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