Saturday, June 21, 2014

Alan Gross was no soldier but should not be left behind in Cuba

Posted on Friday, 06.20.14

Alan Gross was no soldier but should not be left behind in Cuba

The American captive in Cuba, Alan Gross, won't be able to attend his
mother's funeral and mourn her death with his family.

It's a despicable decision, but the cruelty of the Cuban government is
not surprising to those of us who for decades have been unable to attend
the funerals of loved ones for political reasons.

Cuban-Americans understand the Gross family's pain – and are grateful to
the Maryland subcontractor who risked his freedom to take to Cuba cell
phones, computers, and satellite equipment. He wanted to help the small
Jewish community on the island gain access to the Internet – heroic to
the free world but criminalized behavior in totalitarian regimes like
Cuba's, where the government maintains a stronghold on information.

Gross, 65 and in precarious health, has been imprisoned since 2009. He
deserves not only a humanitarian furlough at this difficult time – but
his freedom.

The word "humanitarian," however, is not in the Castro brothers'
dictionary. Deceit is, and so it's also not surprising that a top
bureaucrat in the Cuban Foreign Ministry is spinning lies to quell the
outrage at Gross' treatment.

Public opinion is important to Havana at a time when it's poised to
receive needed "foreign investors," including Cuban-Americans, now that
socialist donors to the Cuban economy in Venezuela are in turmoil.

In a hypocritical statement of "heartfelt condolences," the Ministry's
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro asserts that Gross won't be attending the
funeral because neither the American nor the Cuban prison systems allow
prisoners to travel abroad, "whatever the reasons."

She has a short and selective memory.

The Cuban government doesn't ever play nice – not even with civilians
like Gross – but the United States does.

Convicted Cuban spy René González was allowed to return to Cuba for his
father's funeral in 2013, and a federal judge allowed him to stay there
provided that he renounce his U.S. citizenship.

González was part of the "Red Avispa" (Wasp Network) that infiltrated
military installations and Cuban-exile groups in Miami and passed along
information to the Cuban government that led to the Brothers to the
Rescue shoot down that killed four Cuban-Americans.

González and another cohort of the so-called "Cuban Five" ring are home
now, and photos show González in good health and taking pleasure in the
privileges that faithful servants enjoy. The other three, including the
spy held responsible for the deaths, remain in prison here. Cuba has
suggested trading them for Gross, and Vidal Ferreiro reiterates that in
her so-sorry note.

It's a despicable proposition – Gross was not a spy and didn't harm
anyone – but the U.S. government must not turn away from negotiations to
gain his freedom.

He was no soldier, but he should not be left behind.

Sentenced to 15 years, Gross never had a shot in Cuban court, where
everyone is always found guilty. Access to him has been limited to a few
negotiated visitors. Photographs show an increasingly thin man who went
on a hunger strike earlier this year, ended only after his sick mother
implored him to do so on the phone.

Evelyn Gross, 92, suffered from lung cancer and died Wednesday in Plano,

Her son was denied seeing her one last time – and he's being now denied
a last goodbye.

What else but infamy can one expect from the Cuban government?

Source: Fabiola Santiago: Alan Gross was no soldier but should not be
left behind in Cuba - Fabiola Santiago - -

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