Originally working in Cuba as a subcontractor on a USAID-funded development project, Alan Gross was abducted by Cuban officials who arbitrarily imprisoned him as a bargaining chip for five Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in the US. While unjustly serving a 15 year sentence for "crimes against the state," Alan lost 1,841 days of his life, 110 lbs, five teeth, partial vision in his right eye, and, at times, the will to live. Gross's release in December 2014 helps to begin an historic new era of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the likes of which have not been seen for over 50 years.
At the podium, Gross shares powerful stories of the people he met, the ordeals he experienced, and how he found the strength to survive while being wrongfully imprisoned and almost completely isolated in a small Cuban prison cell. He praises the role that social activism played in securing his release and shares his hopes for the future, including improved US-Cuba relations. Gross also discusses his experiences, adventures, and lessons learned while working with the development-aid community globally.
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