Monday, November 19, 2012

Harder Line on Cuba in Alan Gross Push

Harder Line on Cuba in Alan Gross Push
After Election, Is Havana Confrontation Best Policy?
By Paul Berger
Published November 19, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.

The campaign to free Alan Gross, a Jewish contract worker jailed in Cuba
for almost three years, has dramatically ramped up since President
Obama's reelection.

But experts warn that the latest salvos in the battle to free Gross, led
by his wife, Judy, and a prominent human rights lawyer, are scattershot
and potentially counterproductive.

"There is not a single, self-respecting, knowledgeable Cuba expert who
thinks this new strategy is comprehensive or has a snowball's chance of
working," said Fulton Armstrong, a former national intelligence officer
for Latin America at the CIA.

"This is a very fluid moment," added Julia Sweig, a Latin America
specialist for the Council on Foreign Relations. "It is a moment when
the Obama administration should well be getting in a room and
negotiating the terms of [Gross's] release. I would hate to see any of
this public pressure diminish or hurt that environment."

The Gross family, led by lawyer Peter Kahn, started turning up the heat
on the administration and on the Cuban government at the beginning of
this year, taking to newspapers and television to blast both sides for
using Gross as a pawn in U.S.-Cuba brinksmanship.

Since the presidential election, on November 6, the campaign has become
even fiercer.

On November 11, Jared Genser, a human rights lawyer, and Judy Gross,
staged a protest in Florida outside of a concert by the National
Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. The same day, they released a letter from
more than 500 rabbis to Cuban leader Raul Castro, calling for Alan's
release on humanitarian grounds and they reported Cuba to the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture claiming that an insufficient
amount of medical attention they said was being given to Alan
constituted torture.

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