Friday, June 7, 2013

Cuba: Update--Havana Reportedly Willing to Exchange Alan Gross, 64, for Cuban Agents

According to EFE, and as a follow-up to my last posting of May 18, the Cuban government reiterated on Wednesday (June 5) its willingness to engage in  talks with Washington to resolve the plight of US contractor Alan Gross, 64, now serving a 15-year sentence for subversion, in exchange for four Cuban agents sitting in a federal prison in the US. 

For the benefit of our readers who are not familiar with Mr. Gross' misfortune while working on a USAID-funded project in Cuba in 2009, I would suggest that you do a word search under "Cuba" on my blog to see my previous postings as to how the US government's action caused Alan Gross to end up in a Cuban prison. 

Yet, for those in a rush, here is the abridged version:

Alan Gross traveled to Cuba on behalf of a US institutional contractor, Development Alternatives, Inc.,  that won a contract from the US Agency for International Development to expand Internet access and the flow of information in the Communist-ruled island.

Subsequently, Mr. Gross was arrested in Cuba in December 2009, with satellite communications equipment he was planning to distribute among Cuba’s Jewish community. Havana said he was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion. Last August [2012], Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year jail sentence imposed on the American five months earlier.

Thus, Gross was sent to Cuba on behalf of the US government in what can only be described as a high-risk venture that may not have been well thought out by USAID, given the political ramifications. As a result, he lost his freedom for 15 years.

COMMENT: Unfortunately, because Alan Gross trusted Development Associates and USAID, he is now scheduled to be released in 2027, when he will be roughly 80 years of age.

Cuba has intimated that it would release Gross in exchange for the return of the four members of the “Cuban Five” who remain jailed in the United States.

As in so many cases where the federal government is involved, they fail to acknowledge the fact that it is was the US government that caused Gross to be arrested and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison to begin with.

Tragically, the Obama Administration takes the easy way out by saying that it wants Gross released without conditions. Unfortunately, no in Washington is sitting in a Cuban prison for 15 years WITH significant health ailments.

Considering that it was the federal government that caused Mr. Gross' arrest, President Obama has the authority to approve a prisoner exchange that will convert Alan Gross and his wife's life from a nightmare to freedom and the ability to live out the years they have remaining together. 

President Obama should show compassion and do the right thing.