Sunday, December 2, 2012

US Administration's passivity has cost American citizen 3 years in a Cuban prison

Alan Gross before and after 3 years in a Cuban prison

There have been failures in protecting US lives and property under the Obama Administration as in the case of the Benghazi scandal in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives which have garnered lots of press coverage.  But there is another case which is that of American Alan Gross, arrested on December 3, 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison which has been spun into a debate around US sanctions on Cuba which is a failure in restoring the liberty of an unjustly imprisoned American citizen.

 On April 17, 2009 President Barack Obama said that his Administration sought "a new beginning with Cuba" and stated further that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.” Less than eight months later Alan Gross was taken hostage in Cuba. Nevertheless, the Administration continued its policy of unilateral concessions.

Several questions remain unanswered that are extremely troubling. First, why did this American citizen spend 25 days in a Havana jail before being visited by a U.S. diplomat? By that time Alan Gross had been approached by a Cuban “attorney” who just happened to be representing five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States for espionage and conspiracy to commit murder against four US citizens and they had also planned terrorist actions on US soil. This Cuban attorney represented Alan Gross before his show trial and later appeals. Secondly, did anyone ask if their was not a conflict of interests by this attorney and considering that her clients work for the Cuban State Security agents, Thirdly, has anyone investigated whether or not she is also an employee of the Cuban clandestine services? Finally who advised the Gross family to maintain this individual as their legal representative?

Alan Gross’s supposed crime: Attempting to provide Internet access to the local Jewish community in Cuba is an internationally recognized right. The reality is that he is a hostage of the Castro regime to be used in pressuring concessions. The Obama Administration dangled several offers to the
Castro regime and made a unilateral concession: 
  • Take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.  
  • Waive probation for one of five Cuban agents convicted of espionage in the United States that planned at least one terrorist attack in the United States and provided intelligence that led to the downing of two US civilian planes over international airspace on February 24, 1996 killing four
  • Cuba democracy programs would no longer be about promoting democracy but "building civil society."
  • The White House and Senator John Kerry pushed to unilaterally cut money for the Cuba democracy programs and freeze their funding. 
On the other side of the ledger the Cuban dictatorship did not suffer any repercussions for arbitrarily detaining a U.S. citizen.  Alan Gross remains incarcerated to this day and tomorrow, December 3, 2012 will mark his third year in captivity as a hostage of the Castro regime who is now explicitly calling for his exchange for five convicted Cuban spies.

The dictatorship in Cuba is criminal, but not irrational and if the Obama Administration's approach is one of all carrots and no stick then the regime will continue to collect concessions and hang on to their hostage until that changes. Meanwhile the Obama Administration will continue to harvest the bitter fruits of appeasement.

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