Alan Gross & Cuban-5 at Cuba-US Migration Talks

The contractor Alan Gross in a recent photo taken at the Military Hospital Carlos J. Finlay of Havana, where he is serving prison. From
Alan Gross in a recent photo taken at the Military Hospital Carlos J. Finlay of Havana, where he is serving prison. From

HAVANA TIMES — When negotiators from Cuba and the United States sat down to talk migration on Thursday in Havana two unrelated issues were also at the table: US agent Alan Gross and the Cuban Five.

Representing the US was undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affiars Edward Alex Lee, who visited Alan Gross at the military hospital where he is serving a 15 year sentence for endangering the Cuban state.

Lee did not reveal the content of his conversation with Gross, saying it was a private visit.  He added that during the talks on Thursday the Cuban delegation brought up the issue of the four Cuban spies serving long sentences in the US, noted Café Fuerte.

“We continue to be profoundly concerned about his wellbeing,” said Lee about Gross.  The agent was arrested in 2009 while working on one of the USAID funded regime change programs in Cuba. His smuggling illegal telecommunications equipment into Cuba to set up independent Internet networks had brought the Maryland resident a hefty salary from Development Alternatives Inc, the contractor.

Recently Gross’s wife Judy called into question the sincerity of the US government effort to obtain her husband’s freedom. In a recent protest held in front of the White House, she called for good faith negotiations instead of ineffective mandates from Washington.

Judy criticized the US State Department’s repeated demand for the immediate, unconditional release of Gross saying that this tact has gotten them nowhere for the past four years and if the U.S. government does not drop the, unconditionally,” this will be a death sentence for Alan.” She pleaded: “Please Mr. President don’t leave Alan to die in Cuba.”

While the Obama administration continues to call for Gross’s release without conditions, Havana has proposed a negotiation that would involve the release of four Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in the US since 1998.

Falsification of documents

Another issue discussed on Thursday was the falsification of consular documents by hundreds of persons trying to obtain US residency (easy for Cubans but much more difficult for other nationals), notes Café Fuerte.

The two countries have been working together for years regarding the verification of birth certificates that are usually presented to US immigration authorities by persons seeking legal status and fast track permanent residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Meanwhile, a note from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said the Cuban delegation insisted once again on the fact that illegal unsafe migration “would not be eradicated nor there could be a legal, safe and orderly migration as long as the wet foot/dry foot policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act are not derogated, for these are the main encouragement to illegal departures and irregular arrivals of Cuban citizens in the US territory.”

According to undersecretary Lee, the talks took place in a “respectful and contractive” atmosphere.

The next round of bilateral talks on migration issues are planned for this summer in Washington.

19 thoughts on “Alan Gross & Cuban-5 at Cuba-US Migration Talks

  • Thanks Griffin,
    That seemed to be a fairly objective, if anecdotal, report on drugs in Cuba .
    Marijuana use, while illegal, is hardly a problem in any society except for the effects of outlawing it.
    I am much surprised at the apparent short supply of cocaine and heroin given that Fidel Castro and (probably) brother Raul and likely all top officials in Cuba are so involved in drug trafficking to line their pockets.
    This in spite of the fact that Forbes Magazine named Fidel as one of the richest men in the world because of the fact that he can walk into the national treasury and walk out with as much money as he wants .
    Seriously though, I have no doubt drug use and sales exist in Cuba and every country except perhaps the Vatican but I highly doubt that it represents anywhere near the problem it does throughout Latin America and the United States where drug use has helped that racist country perpetuate permanent second-class citizenship for the inordinate number of Afro-Americans jailed for drug use and who cannot then get a job because of that record .
    The killings throughout Central America due entirely to drug use in the U.S . do not happen in Cuba.
    Some things are entirely relative.

  • What is the incarceration rate in Cuba Griffin. and what are the statistics on those in for political activities as opposed to common criminality ?
    Cuba has serious drug problem compared to what nation or compared to the time before the revolution ?
    No sourcing for your information in light of your stated antipathy for the Cuban revolution does not lend a sense of credibility to what you claim.

  • Griffin,
    I was closely associated with the U.S.’s Socialist Worker’s Party all through the 60s and 70s .
    The group was very active in legally opposing U.S. imperialism but any Stalinist would have been quickly identified and kicked out .
    The SWP always had an economic struggle to survive and never got a penny from the Soviet Union.
    My very close friends in the party at the time were higher ups and knew everything having to do with the financing of that (Trotskyist) party
    During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Communist Party urged a vote for the more liberal Lyndon Johnson as opposed to the conservative Barry Goldwater and the all the Moscow-oriented Communist Parties in following a go along to survive modus operandi, always went with the lesser of two evils way of urging votes for liberals rather than conservative capitalist candidates in most capitalist countries around the world.
    Given that the Soviets lost some 50 million people to the hostile capitalist forces arrayed against them in two world wars , it would have been suicidal for them to disarm when the U.S . was quite explicit about crushing them in whatever fashion they could.
    The U.S was and still is the biggest threat to peace in the world .
    You might w want or not want to Google up Paul Street’s recent article ” The Biggest Threat To Peace ….” and see why this is so or you can ignore the truth as is your wish.

  • What is the unemployment rate in Cuba ?
    It’s about 20% in the US
    What is the number of people who go without adequate healthcare on a per capita basis in Cuba ?
    That rate is 17% or 50 million in the US.
    How many homeless are there on a per capita basis in Cuba as compared to the rich U.S. ?
    Go look up the statistics.
    Miami has a 35% poverty rate
    What effect has the U.S economic war had on the entire Cuban population in creating societal behavioral problems ?
    What you present are lies of omission; You leave out what does not fit your desired narrative but aren’t aware that it negates much of what you claim by doing so.

  • The article you provided the link to regarding Fidel dealing drugs, ITSELF said that U.S legal authorities said they lacked the necessary proof to convict Fidel Castro .
    It is my contention that you could go to Miami today, and not the 20 years ago of that article,and find just as many reliable witnesses who will testify that Fidel Castro killed and ate babies .
    Any assertion made without evidence can be rejected without evidence as did that U.S. court.
    You can’t have it both ways . If you are using court testimonies to justify your libel of Fidel Castro the you must also accept the judgment of that court that the testimonies given were not reliable.

  • What an awesome place Cuba is! According to JG There is no unemployment, wonderful healthcare, and no one sleeps on the street. Wow….why did I ever leave?

    I was going comment, but it’s exhausting. Why bother? You can see he’s never been in Habana so what’s the point.

  • You obviously wish to continue to support Fidel Castro. To do so by calling charges against him regarding the drug trade baseless, in light of the breadth and depth of eyewitness testimony against him is amazing. You also often reject comparisons between the US and Cuba as unfair and redirect the argument to, as you say, comparably capitalized countries of similar size. Why would you choose to discuss drug and unemployment problems in the US to make your point now? Finally, below Griffin makes excellent points regarding incarceration and alcoholism rates in Cuba. The USSR, prior to Glasnost made arguments against the US similar to what you posted above.

  • I would have better reflected my thoughts if I had written “not surprisingly”. Thanks for bringing this subtlety to my attention.

  • You are laboring under the illusion that I support the Cuban government in any way except to support their struggle against the U.S ‘s attempted overthrow of their revolution.
    To repeat: I am an anarchist .
    Anarchism is centered upon a democratic, bottom-up and government-less society .
    I regularly speak out against the POLICIES OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT and should they choose to jail me for doing so , there would be not much I could do about it except leave the country .
    Cubans , ( people who live in Cuba) regularly speak out about their government at HT and other public places and are not jailed.
    People like Alan Gross openly admit that they seek to overthrow the government and revolution of Cuba and are paid by the government of the U.S. to do so .
    In any country in the world they would at least be arrested and tried for doing so.
    In every dictatorship SUPPORTED by the USA, dissidents, teachers, union leaders and journalists are routinely “disappeared”, tortured, killed and if lucky, only jailed.
    I invite you to go to the “Killing Hope” website and read the free chapters on how the U.S and its totalitarian allies treat dissidents and in particular the second chapter of the book which deals with Guatemala .
    This is , in no way , an attempt to divert from the totalitarian nature of the Cuban government but to point out the egregious hypocrisy involved in the GOUSA and U.S. citizens criticizing the Cuban government when they are either ignorant of or willfully ignorant of the 100 year atrocity-filled U.S. foreign policy which has always been centered upon enforcing totalitarian economic and governmental forms on weaker countries.
    Again, because It seems I can’t say it enough to have it sink in, I am a democrat. I believe deeply in direct democracy right across all societal forms unlike those who support or go along with totalitarian forms as in Cuba’s top-down economy and government and IMO the far worse totalitarian forms that are capitalism and the U.S. oligarchic governmental forms.
    There are also a number of errors of fact in your presumptions about the division of wealth in Cuba and why and how Cubans leave Cuba that I have covered a number of times in previous posts and threads and which I don’t have the time to reiterate but suffice to say that Cuban society and government cannot help but be corrupted and immiserated by having an economic war waged upon it by the U.S. : the richest and most powerful country to ever have existed for over 50 years.
    Do yourself a favor, do this : go to the “Killing Hope” website and read the introduction to the book and come to understand what underlies U.S. foreign policy .
    It begins with the 1918 joint U.S.-European invasion of the Soviet Union , which some 95% of U.S. citizens have no knowledge .
    Read that intro and you’ll have the beginnings of an understanding of what the U.S. is all about.
    ” Telling the people of the U.S what evil the U.S has really done to the world is akin to telling them of your UFO abduction except that they are far more willing to believe the latter.”

  • Cuba has a low crime rate, but one the highest incarceration rates… hmmm, now how does that work out?

    Cuba does have a serious drug problem: alcoholism is quite prevalent and the consumption of toxic homemade moonshine is very common.

  • Moses wrote: “Peace activists understandably called for then President Regan and the US to unilaterally disarm.”

    Understandably? Yes, if you understand that after the collapse of the Soviet Union when Moscow’s archives were opened up, it was discovered that the Western “peace activist” groups were all thoroughly penetrated, funded and directed by the KGB. Notice these “peace activists” never called for the USSR to disarm, only the USA & NATO.

  • John, if you were a Cuban citizen, you could not continue vocally critizing your government, without eventual reprisals. You know this is true. It is not a society ruled from the bottom up. It is not a society governed through an even level of people. The leaders live in wealth. The people have little. Very difficult to leave the island unless you have money. I could give a name to that type of system, but I won’t.

    The USA has many horrible policies and Cuba has better health and education. I’m not argumentive, I want things to get better. The embargo should cease, but I am not sure legally it can, right now, very unfair. However, I will just repeat: Would you be willing to be jailed for speaking against your country?

  • By what criteria is the Cuban economic system a failure relative to other capitalist economies in countries of similar PPP/GNP ?
    If they rank inordinately high as they do on the W.H.O.’s Human Development Index which, in brief, compares the world’s countries as to health , education and general welfare of ALL the peoples of those countries , how can you call their economy a failure especially in light of the fact that the U.S is causing economic hardships through its 54 year war in the Cuban economy ?
    The the richest capitalist country and yet it has some 50 million or about 17% of ITS people living in poverty and that is a gross undercount given that the official poverty rate is about anywhere from half or a third of what still would be a poverty level in most of the country. Living in San Francisco , one of the highest cost-of-living cities in the country, I’m sure you’re well aware of that. .
    Socially, Cuba has practically no drug problem except of course for your baseless charges that Fidel personally made millions from dealing in drugs, has one of the lowest crime rates in the hemisphere, no people sleeping in the streets , no homeless and no unemployed and handicapped beggars as are common where I live.
    In the U.S there are millions out of work, only one job available for every three looking for work and 67% of all new jobs coming on the market are minimum wage jobs which are well below the official poverty rate.
    It is quite true that politically, Cuba’s Leninist government is almost as totalitarian as is the U.S oligarchic system and can accurately be termed a democratic failure as well. .
    You got one out of three correct this time.
    Quite an improvement for you.

  • Long after Marx and Lenin were “dead and buried”, the Soviets continued to describe their economic system as Marxist-Leninist socialism. So yes, if after both Fidel and Raul have gone on to meet their maker, if Cuba continues in perpetuating the failed economic, social and political model the Castros imposed upon the Cuba people, then I will continue to use the term “the Castros”.

  • My debate will not be bounded by your colossal ignorance of what is academically and historically acceptable .
    Your definitions of communism/socialism are in direct contradiction to their philosophical tenets and for that reason are inacceptable in any reasonable debate.
    It is YOU who should feel the necessity of putting quote marks around those words so as to show that the terms are being used erroneously by the “Castros” and their ilk and that you are aware of the difference .
    To not do so simply displays the same willful arrogance as G.W. Bush in his insistence upon pronouncing nuclear as “nuculer” when a great many people had told him it was in error to do so and made him look dumb.
    I will move on when you amend your language to fit reality, history and those who originated the terms and philosophies which you are attempting to denigrate by assigning to them characteristics that have no part in any of them .
    In other words, I will not lower the intellectual level of my debate to that of yours and in doing so, tacitly show agreement with your erroneous conclusions.
    That you give me every opportunity to point out your basic ignorance in post after post gives me little pleasure .
    I would rather debate on equal terms but since you seem quite happy to give me the advantage of higher intellectual ground by your deliberate misuse of terms and philosophies , I will always use that advantage to point out the weaknesses of your arguments.
    Can I assume that when Raul and Fidel are both dead and buried that you will continue to say that the “Castros” still run the country since Cuba will retain the center of their policies: a socialist-style distribution of the country’s goods and services ?

  • I call the USSR a communist regime because that is what they called themselves. You call yourself John so that is what I will call you despite what I might think you deserve to be called. You choose to define communism in your special little way even though your way only exists in theory. Referring to Cuba as socialist is solely an acknowledgement of the name they have given their economic system. If you wish, when you read socialist Cuba, you may insert the quotes around the word socialist as in “socialist” if that serves to calm your nerves. Likewise, when I refer to the “Castros” it is reference to the regime and not the entire Castro clan. Please move on.

  • I thought we had agreed to the definition of communism as something that was decidedly not what the Soviet system was and decidedly not what Cuba is.
    To repeat to the willfully deaf, communism is a societal system run from the bottom up and not from the top down.
    This should be easy for anyone to both understand and remember.
    You are demonstrating a mulish adherence to your previous willful ignorance of what is academically acceptable and which believed only by those who are grossly uneducated and/or disinformed..
    Further , Fidel retired long before Gross
    was arrested for attempting “regime change ” as overthrowing the governments of sovereign nations is euphemistically called in the article and had no part in his arrest, trial or sentencing .
    Cuba is holding out and is not in any danger of collapse or surrendering to the United States as you would wish them to do .
    Just how many errors of fact and lies of omission can you cram into a single post ?

  • During the height of the Cold War, the US and the USSR were locked into a costly and dangerous arms race. Peace activists understandably called for then President Regan and the US to unilaterally disarm. More moderate voices urged Reagan to initiate talks with a bold good faith gesture of abandoning his ‘Star Wars’ research. They said to do so would improve our standing in Europe. As history proves, Reagan stayed the course and forced the Soviets to overspend militarily. These Soviets expenditures, among the myriad of other defects with the Soviet system, ultimately led the fall of the entire Soviet bloc and communism in the world as a whole. Why would Obama retreat from a winning strategy and capitulate to the world’s last barely standing communist state? To improve our standing in Latin America? The Castros took Alan Gross hostage from the very beginning as a bargaining chit for the then five and now soon to be three Cuban spies. Cuba is on the ropes. This is not the time to let up the pressure.

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