A united call was issued on November 4 for the humanitarian release of the Cuban 5 and the American Alan Gross. The call was issued by the Cuban Council of Churches, the Reverend John McCullough of Church World Service, Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer of the Jewish Renewal Movement and the Reverend Gradye Parsons of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“It is because of the common values of our faith that we ask the Gross, Hernandez, Salazar and Rodríguez families be reunited,” said McCullough
The Reverend Joel Dopico, president of the Cuban Council of Churches, stated that our countries are at a moment like the story of Abraham in Genesis 12, which calls us sometimes to go to unfamiliar places trusting that in the end great change will be accomplished. Our generation must leave the kind of relationship we have now and begin a journey to a new, unseen and hope-filled relationship for the sake of future generations.
This humanitarian mission began with a delegation from the Cuban Council of Churches in February who visited members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. State Department and American religious leaders. A U.S. delegation of religious leaders continued those visits with the U.S. State Department and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. Now in Cuba a joint delegation met with religious leaders, Cuban government officials and the U.S. Interests Section. The result of these meetings is an ongoing commitment to advocate for the reunion of these families.
The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 in the United States and convicted in 2001. Two of them have completed their sentences and have been reunited with their families. Alan Gross was arrested by Cuban officials in 2009 and sentenced in 2011. The American delegation has attempted to visit with all of the four men in jail.
Our common prayer is that by working together we can help reunite these families and our countries. That reunion will begin when meaningful discussions at higher levels occur between our two governments and they can open a new era characterized by respectful dialogue and confidence in the integrity of the other.