Cuba: What to do about Alan Gross?

Tomorrow he will spend his fourth Christmas in a Cuban jail.

Haroldo Dilla Alfonso*

Looking towards the USA from Cabo San Antonio, Cuba. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Alan Gross should be released soon and unilaterally. Not because he’s innocent or because he’s some martyr of democracy, because obviously he’s not.

His case involves an agent employed by a hostile foreign government to engage in illegal operations in Cuba. His actions were in line with a US law (the embargo) whose repudiation today is one of the issues with the greatest consensus around the globe.

This was within the framework of an interventionist program that as a Cuban I oppose, because I reject everything that turns the US or any other foreign country into a domestic political actor beyond what is essential in this globalized and asymmetric world.

Speaking directly, Alan Gross should be released because that would be a very low cost but high impact gesture for generating understanding with the United States. This is because Cuba desperately needs a normal access to the US market, tourists and capital to boost its faltering economy.

Cuba also needs a normal political relationship with the US. Though this would have all the contradictions and conflicts that are expected of such an unequal relationship, it needs open channels for communications and negotiations.

If to achieve this, to begin exchanging steps in the lukewarm minuet proposed by Obama in his second term, Mr. Gross will have to be taken to the airport. It’s time to do so.

To raise this issue to the level of the five imprisoned spies (The Cuban Five) seems a serious mistake, and also a sign of political immaturity. There’s no comparison between a network of spies, some of whom have been credited with the loss of human lives, and the case of Alan Gross.

This is especially when we know that these Cuban agents, who have lost significant portions of their lives locked up, were political pieces sacrificed by Fidel Castro to maintain policies to keep alive his exhausting nationalist campaign after the return of Elian Gonzalez.

Cuba has spies imprisoned in the US with many more stripes and records than the “five heroes in the empire” about which nothing is said, simply because in the world of espionage the rule is to look to the side and find surreptitious solutions.

This isn’t a personal position. I think the American government would be doing itself a favor and one for all of us if it were to take steps towards returning the Cuban Five to the island. But it’s also time that the Cuban government understand that their relationship with the US is asymmetric.

Faced with this asymmetry, what is required is an intelligent policy that sets aside the typical bravado of a schoolyard bully to make way for a constructive and negotiated policy about the real reasons behind the dispute.

Again, Cuba requires access to the US market and to guarantee its national integrity through negotiations, which today are exposed to great fragility given in its dependence on Venezuelan oil, and the militarization and internal repression at home.

If it is needed to release Alan Gross to obtain a nation whose sovereignty rests in the national consensus, on the prosperity of its inhabitants, and the full dignity of its people, then Cuban leaders should put aside their neutered machismo, and release him.

I repeat: Having Alan Gross in prison is more costly and less promising than releasing him. Keeping him locked up is to continue pursuing the bad politics of the anti-imperialist show. Good politics suggests taking him to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport tomorrow.
(*) A Havana Times translation of the original published in Spanish by

47 thoughts on “Cuba: What to do about Alan Gross?

  • Man, Daniel, advocating clamping down on all those freedoms of US citizens sounds like you are a strong supporter of totalitarian tendencies! If I live in a free country, I should be able to give my money to whom I choose, and visit whatever country I wish.

  • Luis,

    Both China & Vietnam were subjected to economic embargoes by the USA. These embargoes were lifted when the rulers of those countries enacted economic reforms which allowed foreign investment under attractive terms. I am not arguing that the US has acted in a high moral way in these cases, just pointing out that Cuba is not the sole subject of US embargoes.

    Cuba is however a special case, in that US corporations & individuals had a much higher value of property in that country, and it was when these assets were confiscated by the revolution, that the US imposed the embargo. In time, the motivation for the embargo expanded to include the lost property of Cuban nationals who’s assets were confiscated by the regime and who were driven into exile. There is nothing insane or unreasonable about wanting their property back from a regime who they feel unjustly stole it from them.

    The total US property confiscated by the regime was still significantly less than the total value of assets take from Cuban citizens and companies. This is not a simple matter of big bad America corporations wanting their stuff back. Most of the property take was in the form of small businesses, homes and farms, which were seized without compensation from their rightful Cuban owners.

  • For a “free people” traveling to any other country would not be a criminal activity, except in a totalitarian police state. However, in this instance it is. Non-Cuban born US citizens are forbidden by law to travel to Cuba, under penalty of fine and imprisonment. Cubans are allowed to visit the US (except the US severely restricts the number of entry visas given Cubans into the US).

  • Humberto- you still haven’t/can’t answer any of my questions in #8 regarding the trial of the Cuban 5. To answer would demand you acknowledge your deficient reasoning.

  • Quit with the propaganda hype. Alan Gross was not merely “trying to help the poor Jewish community connect to the internet.” They already do. He was a covert agent working for the CIA through the USAID- it is obvious and well-known that USAID funds “democracy-promoting” actions that are solely intent on bringing down the Cuban government. If foreign countries funded such operations in the US, they would be caught and tried as spies- and thrown in prison or traded for our own spies. Gross was paid over a half million $$- to bring in communications equipment that could evade Cuban security. He knew what he was doing, and took the chance. He tried to hide his equipment as he brought it in through customs- broken up and dispersed in the luggage of other travelers. The Jewish community he was supposedly helping didn’t even have any knowledge of his activity. The US govt should own up and take care its spy- make a deal and trade for him with the Cuban 5. They did it when we captured the Russian spies this past year- within 10 days a trade was made and the Russians were on they’re way back home. The reason no international human rights organizations have condemned his arrest and conviction? Because he broke the laws of the country he was entering by attempting to smuggle in counter-intelligence equipment in obvious and direct violation of the Cuban laws, laws that would get any foreigner doing the same in our country jail time. Why aren’t you supporters of Gross calling for the US govt to do the right thing and arrange a deal to get our spy back?
    You supporters are just hacks trying to deny the obvious truth. You’re not helping Gross or the Cuban people.

  • Helping the jewish comunity to conect to internet or otherwise would not be a crime anywhere but in a country rules despotically and with no options for the same dictators for 54 years (world record)
    So they decided to take him as a hostage
    Shame to Barack Obama that he could stop this right this minute by a presidential decree ,forbidden all money remittences ,merchandise packages and passenger flights from the USA to Cuba today
    I am quiet sure that Raul Castro willhave Alan Gross in the next morning flight to the USA ,knowing his pocket will be the more afected if all remittences from USA to Cuba will stop tonight
    Enough of hipocrissy!

  • Both of you, read my December 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm comment. And then just think a little bit, why Vietnam and China (both countries who claim to be socialist) don’t get this sort of Cold War relationship with the US?

    Do you really think this idiocy is maintained on purpose by Cuba, and not the Miami lobby who acts like immature children who lost their toys? Please.

  • Get a grip? How’s that Berlin Wall Holding up?

    One day the tyranny will end. Viva Cuba Libre.

  • The Cold War between Cuba and the USA persists because that’s the way the Castro regime likes it. They intentionally provoke a low level of hostility and suspicion. That’s why they keep on about the Cuban Five Heroes/Spies. They don’t actually want them released. That’s why the jailed Alan Gross, to keep the Americans at least a little bit angry. That’s why they persist on trying to tie the Cuban Five to Alan Gross as if there were any parallel. The Castro regime has constructed a prison of fear and paranoia about an impending US invasion . Cubans have said to me, “tell the Americans we want peace!” , as if they expected the US Marines to land on Veradero beach at any minute.

    Alan Gross is about keeping that fear stoked. They won’t let him go.

  • Luis!! Of the past 50 years, only the last 15 years we have had access to technology such as cell phones, text messaging, internet etc , with the Cuban people having very limited and censored access and only in the past 5 years or so! The Castro oligarchy will be brought down because of access to information by the everyday Cuban people which will finally be able to make their own decisions! Just wait till the Cuban population sees how they have been denied information, they will hold the Castro “government” accountable!

  • Ryan R said: “Alan Gross knew the work he was doing for the CIA/USAID was against Cuban laws”

    Ryan! In Cuba doing anything or even thinking of doing anything that the Castro “government” does not like is considered a crime dear! But what is interesting is that if proving his guilt was such a slam dunk why was the international press banned from the courtroom and have also not been able to interview Alan Gross in three years? And why not nab him in the first five trips he took there? Interesting questions to ponder!

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Cuba urged to revoke repressive laws and release prisoners of conscience- 16 March 2010

    “Cuban laws impose unacceptable limits on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. “Cuba desperately needs political and legal reform to bring the country in line with basic international human rights standards.

  • Yes, the losers of the ’59 Revolution.

    BTW, they (the US and the Miami rich exiles) have been telling that the Cuban Revolution would fall for over 50 years. If it has not happened during the most favorable time – the 1990’s – I really don’t see much probability of what you’re saying to happen in the near future.

    Get a grip.

  • Luis! Is that the best you can do, this “loosing” term? I hate to tell you dear, but the Castro saga is not over yet! The Castro oligarchy is running out of steam and “leaders”, they cannot stop information from going in and out of the island so lets just wait and see what the next 5 years will bring! Lets see who will be the real “losers”!

  • Now after this wonderful vocabulary showcase, I wonder who’ll be taken seriously.

  • I don’t take you seriously for a long time. Especially after having a very rough time with me in two previous topics showing everything that can be called ‘foolishness’.


  • Dear Walter,

    That you admit to watching Oliver Stone’s ridiculous drivel is tantamount to declaring your own foolishness. Nothing you write after that will be taken seriously.

  • Nobody has a right to enslave Cuba.

    Who ever gave the Castro’s the authority to rule over the Cuban people for 54 years? Theirs is an illegitimate dictatorship. They brutalize the Cuban people, deny all rights and freedoms, rape the Cuban environment and send spies and guerrillas to subvert their neighbours. Why should any Cuban, inside or outside of the country, ever try to reconcile with that regime?

    The regime has taken Gross hostage, just as they have taken the entire Cuban nation hostage.

  • HC- I believe one of the five was indeed employed as a laborer at the Naval Base (and did pass on some non-classified information about a base that could be used to launch attacks or assist the anti-Cuban terrorist organizations harbored inside the US), but they more importantly infiltrated CANF, Brothers to the Rescue, Alpha-66, and F4, organizations responsible for numerous acts of violence against the Cuban people. Their trials and convictions have been condemned internationally for their lack of fairness and justice. Their initial convictions were so grossly unjust the sentences were thrown out. Of course, their re-sentencings were still based on their original unfair trials that were held in Miami, a venue where they were guaranteed to have a jury biased against them. And comparing those reporters paid to publish stories intended to bias the jury pool to NPR and PBS really calls into question your reasoning or seriousness. At the least it demonstrates you have no real justification for it.
    Alan Gross knew the work he was doing for the CIA/USAID was against Cuban laws- that is why he tried to sneak the hardware in without declaring it as he was required. The US govt would have prosecuted anyone doing the same in this country.

  • Moses, are you really that naive to think the Cuban emigrant community would EVER reconcile with the Castro government? The Castros would have to roll over and reverse everything for the Miami Cubans to ever be satisfied, obviously, not something that’s going to happen.

  • No, he’s not suggesting anything. Just pointing out the damage done to countries like Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964), Argentina (1966) Chile (1973)… the last mentioned was the first “Chicago School experiment” by the way.

  • Or should be the other way around? To admit you simply *lost* is a difficult thing, but may it be the day that the Miami lobby end this lunacy and finally bury the Cold War that still persists between the US and Cuba.

  • Ryan R! Why did the Cuban 5 have to get jobs in these US government installation to spy on the “Cuban Terrorists” in Miami? Why not get on in McDonalds and blend in much easier? The Cuban 5 (in my book spies) got subsequent appeals all the way to the supreme court which denied to hear their case so your argument of the initial trial being a “kangaroo” trial is a bit weak! The trial was covered by all types of national and international media and the transcripts and evidence was made public unlike for Mr. Gross! That argument about the press being paid to influence the jury might have some weight but then again PBS and NPR are partly paid by the US Government and no one ever complains about their role in covering the news and trials! NOW if you really want to define a “kangaroo” trial is what Alan Gross went thru, with no international press allowed into the courtroom and no interviews of Mr. Gross by these international and/or independent journalists so far in 3 years! Will be back to respond to your questions dear!

  • Humberto, excellent point! Please continue to repeat your comments that the Castros must first reconcile with the exile community. Imagine if the troika of Reps. Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtenen,and Sen. Rubio to say nothing of Sens. Menendez and freshman, all lobbying Obama ON BEHALF of improving relations and lifting the embargo? As it is, most Americans look to the Cuban emigrant community as the guidepost for relations with Cuba. Who better than these Cubans to formulate the road map to better relations? I fear however, that this will not likely happen. Instead, the Castros much prefer to bamboozle syncophants like John Goodrich into calling the US a dictatorship or profiteers like John McAuliff who use Cuban interests to entertain their leftists appetites.

  • Are you suggesting that the US is a dictatorship? That’s crazy John. You can’t be that confused. Fidel is quoted as saying “What’s so wrong with dictatorships?” If he is not offended, why should you be?

  • Humberto- you propose that the conviction “to obtain military secrets” by the Cuban 5 as indicating a fact, when, in an unfair, unjust trial in a kangaroo court, their conviction is proof of nothing. Tell me, what “military secrets” did they try to obtain and what did they actually procure, unless you consider the anti-Castro Cubans plotting sabotage on Cuba to be part of the US military apparatus? What information did they obtain that hurt the US military or govt? And why did Alan Gross disassemble his hardware and place it surreptitiously in the luggage of other visitors to the island if not to be able to sneak in computer equipment known by him to require his declaring its importation upon entering Cuba? Why was he trying to sneak in an untraceable SIM card available only to intelligence agencies, provided to him by his USAID/CIA handlers? He must have known he was contravening Cuban law and did so intentionally.

  • John McAuliff ! The dialogue that should occur first is between the Castro “government” that has been ruling Cuba for 54 years now and all the Cuban people in and out of the island. A good relationship with the USA will fall into place after that very easily. Interesting enough, the Castro brothers have been supporting the dialogue between the FARC and the government of Colombian but Raul & Fidel Castro refuse to have any meaningful dialogue with the internal opposition! Dont you find that very hypocritical on their part John McAuliff, since your organization’s aim is a “Fund for Reconciliation and Development”?? Speaking of funds, dont you think that you should add “tour guide” to Cuba to your title? You seem to always miss to put the fact that you take Americans and other tourists to Cuba many times a year for a hefty price!

    FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: The Castro family playground- Blake Hounshell

    Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart- Relationship: Fidel Castro’s son
    Position: Advisor, Ministry of Basic Industry

    Col. Alejandro Raúl Castro Espin – Releationship: Raúl Castro’s son
    Position: Chief, Intelligence Information Services, Ministry of the Interior; Coordinator, Intelligence Exchange with China

    Ramón Castro Ruz- Relationship: Fidel and Raúl’s oldest brother
    Position: Advisor, Ministry of Sugar

    Dr. Antonio Castro Soto – Relationship: Fidel Castro’s son
    Position: Investment Chief, Frank Pais Hospital. Doctor for Cuba’s baseball team

    Major Raúl Alejandro Rodríguez Castro – Relationship: Raúl Castro’s
    Position: Raúl Castro’s military guard in charge of his personal security

    Deborah Castro Espin – Relationship: Raúl Castro’s daughter
    Position: Advisor, Ministry of Education

    Mariela Castro Espin – Relationship: Raúl Castro’s daughter
    Position: Head, Center for Sexual Education


  • Yes indeed .
    They can all link hands and sing Kumbaya .

    Get a grip man.

    When the U.S. imposed its 50 year war on Cuba, it was for the express purpose of bringing such immense hardship and suffering upon all the Cuban people that they would overthrow their socialist revolution .

    The embargo persists for the same reason today and even suggesting that the U.S. might be at all interested in ending its hostility to Cuba’s socialist revolution is beyond naive.

    The empire does not maintain 1000 military bases in over 100 countries (including the torture center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to settle disputes by diplomatic negotiation.

    Imposing totalitarian and repugnant systems like neo-liberal capitalism and bourgeois oligarchic government usually has to be done by force since not many people freely chose to be ruled by dictatorships.

    It is what the GOUSA is all about .

  • When Fidel Castro first came to power and implemented a land reform act in which landless peasants were given the divided-up estates of the very rich, his family land and house was the FIRST to be so distributed.

    You cannot point to a single CAPITALIST leader who gave up his family fortune to the poor when he came to power can you ?

  • The U.S. has made counter-revolution and the maintenance of capitalism as a worldwide economic form through force since the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1918.

    That foreign policy was carried out largely under the Cold War rubric but which now uses the phony GWOT as the rationale used by the GOUSA for public consumption; to explain why we have over 1000 military ouposts in over 100 countries.

    Cuba, as badly damaged as it is because of the U.S. embargo, still provides the example of a more moral and humane alternative to U.S.-style capitalism which has half the world living in poverty .

    NO child goes hungry, homeless, uneducated or untreated for illness in Cuba.

    And it is precisely the christian care-for-the-poor social policies of Cuba that are so diametrically opposed to the screw-the-poor social policies of the United States attempts to impose on the world and which the U.S. has tried to impose upon the people of Cuba for over 50 years.

    Alan Gross knew what he was doing. He knew he was trying to overthrow the Cuban revolution . He had to know the suffering caused the Cuban people by the embargo, by U.S. backed terrorist acts in Cuba but he did it because he is part of the U.S. war on the poor.

    He needs to stay in prison. He should be treated humanely . He should be allowed visits by his friends and family. He should be released the day that the GOUSA calls off all hostilities to the Cuban people and not a day sooner. He aided and abetted people trying to overthrow the DEMOCRATIC will of the Cuban people .
    he is a foreign agent . He is guilty of criminal activity for which he would be executed in most U.S.- backed regimes.

    The Cuban Five were FIGHTING TERRORISM. They had infiltrated the U.S. backed/permitted Florida ex-Cuban terrorist groups to prevent any future attacks on Cuba . They were spies only in that sense and were not engaged in anything do do with spying on the U.S. military and the suggestion that they were is just a lie.
    They are heroes being imprisoned by a state terrorist nation .

  • Castro comes from one of the largest landowning families of old Cuba.

    He’s nothing but Cuba’s supreme ‘jefe’ —–‘Marks–ist’ style.

    And of course Marx himself was a creation of London monopoly world banking.


  • This circle of blame and recriminations will never end until the governments of the US and Cuba sit down to serious and mutually respectful negotiations.

    The fate of government funded and directed operatives carrying out illegal activities in the other country are but one aspect of compounded mistrust.

    Haroldo Dilla Alfonso’s concept of asymmetric relations is that the weaker must yield to the stronger. It might also be said that the stronger can more easily afford to take risks to end a conflict.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  • Paul Greene said: “Hell, he was working for the biggest spy agency on the planet, smuggling illegal state-of-the-art US Defense Department and CIA equipment onto the island?”

    Paul Greene !! Couple of question below!

    1. Can you provide concrete proof that Alan Gross was working for the CIA, with link?

    2. Can you provide a link to photo of these “equipment”? You would think that the Castro “government” would be parading this stuff around all over the Internet and the world press, but so far NOTHING!

    3. If the Alan Gross case was such a “slam dunk”, why was the international press barred from the courtroom on his trial and subsequent appeals? And why is this same international press been unable to interview Alan Gross in these 3 years?

    Please feel free to respond, I love to be educated!
    NPR : In Cuba, Jailed American Alan Gross Faces Trial

    BLOCK: Now, foreign journalists, I understand, are not allowed into the courtroom to cover the trial. You were outside the courthouse today. What were you able to learn there?

    MIROFF: That’s right. He’s being tried in a small municipal courthouse far away from the city center.

    N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

    Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

    Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.


    NBC NEWS: American jailed in Cuba wants US to sign ‘non-belligerency pact’ to speed release – By Michael Isikoff

    Kornbluh, who has advocated closer U.S.-Cuba dialogue, was in Havana last week to attend a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. He was granted permission to visit Gross by Cuban officials. (The Cubans so far have denied all news media requests to meet with him.) He said Gross was most upset about being unable to return home to see members of his family who are ill, especially his 90-year-old mother in Texas who has cancer.

  • Michael N. Landis!! Please provide a list of the “reciprocations” that the Castro “government” has offered the Obama administration for all the steps it has taken to 1. Remove travel restrictions on Cuban Americans to visit the island. 2. Remove the restrictions of remittances from this same group 3. The easing of people to people travel of Americans to Cuba. 4. Easier travel for Cuba artists and academics and gasp, even Mariela Castro to travel to the bad old USA. Please feel to educate me, for in my book diplomacy is a two-way street!

  • Cort Greene ! The Cuban 5 were convicted of “conspiracy to obtain military secrets from the U.S. Southern Command headquarters.” Now that sure sounds like spying to me! Anyhow, they got about the normal or less years in prison under those convictions according to the US sentencing guidelines! If I am incorrect feel free to enlighten me!

    2011 Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual

    Part M – Offenses Involving National Defense and Weapons of Mass Destruction

    §2M3.1. Gathering or Transmitting National Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government

    (a) Base Offense Level:

    (1) 42, if top secret information was gathered or transmitted; or

    (2) 37, otherwise.
    HUFFINGTON POST: Supreme Court: No Re-Trial For “Cuban Five”Convicted Of Spying – LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ

    The five _ Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino (aka Luis Medina), Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez (aka Ruben Campa) _ were convicted in 2001 of being unregistered foreign agents. Three also were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain military secrets from the U.S. Southern Command headquarters.


  • Interesting article on a theory of why Alan Gross was taken prisoner/hostage after so many prior trips before his actual arrest, with other foreigners doing the same type or even riskier type of work in Cuba prior to his visits! These include Marc Wachtenheim & René Greenwald who were helping to distribute computers and other communication equipment thru the Masons in the island. In addition it also touches on the reason of the Castro “government’s” obsession with the Cuban 5 who were actually a ring of over 14 “operatives” if you dont want to call them spies! The article makes a good point on the reason that the Castro “government” chose a Jewish American as a way to “persuade” the influential liberal Jewish community into trading Alan Gross for the Cuban 5 with so many of them involved already in the “Save The Cuban 5” groups in the USA! Maybe HT might want to translate this article for the non-Spanish speakers!

    CUBANET: Alan Gross, el rehén ideal (Alan Gross the ideal hostage) – Gustavo E. Pardo

  • Don’t be surprised, Walter.

  • That was just one example. All industries seek interest on expanding their business on incipient markets like Cuba’s, after all, this is the sine-qua-non condition for their own survival in the age of cognitive capitalism.

  • The argument that “mid-west farmers” are in some way missing out on doing business with Cuba is overstated. If all 11.2 million Cubans were to somehow get all their foodstuffs from these farmers (an unlikely scenario but work with me), this new market would be little more than an additional $100 million in revenues to these producers. This group of farmers, depending on who you include, does roughly $20 billion in business each year. Check out corn, beef and processed food prices lately. These basic food items are well above the purchasing power of Cubans. Cubans only spend an average of $27 a month on imported food so the access to the Cuban market is no big deal for US producers and certainly no reason to sway foreign policy. Nice try though.

  • The US government does not care about gestures, they care about power and control and I for one am against any release of Gross unless the the Cuban 5 are set free and allowed to go home if that is what they wish, all openings of the Cuban economy to US capitalists or the Chinese, Russian capitalists for that matter, the path of returning Cuba to market capitalism should be closed and the road to real socialism, proletarian democracy and foreign policy should be pursed.

    Cuba and Venezuela made a mistake the first time thinking that Obama was a different kind of president and the second go round will be worse and tail ending after the Democrats ( who are just as bad as the Republicans) will get you nowhere, go to the people and workers.

  • Merriam-Webster defines third world country as “an underdeveloped nation” and “despot” as a ruler with absolute power and authority. Do you disagree that Cuba is not a third world country or that the Castros are not despots?

  • Haroldo, your calling the Cuban 5 “spies” in itself indicates your bias. As you know, the US government was unable to show that the Cuban 5 sent documents back to Cuba or damaged the US interest in any way. Likewise, the US government admitted that it could not link Gerardo Hernandez to the shooting down of the Cessna planes. Amnesty International and the UN have reported that the trial was a travesty of justice. The title of your article indicates that Alan Gross is spending his 4th Christmas in jail. The Cuban Five have been in prison 14 years, and two of them have never been granted a visit from their wife. Justice has to prevail. Releasing Alan Gross unilaterally will not encourage the US to any goodwill gesture, anymore than the liberalization of the Cuban economy has led to any softening of the stance towards Cuba. Alan Gross is only an excuse. Obama doesn’t have the political will for change right now. The US government keeps raising the bar as to its demands as an excuse to not modify its stance towards Cuba. It wrongly assumes that it is not in the best interest of the US to change at this point. A swap of prisoners would at least be of humanitarian value, and lead both sides to soften their stance.

  • What amazing loyalty to arrogance is revealed here in Mr. Moses’ post. I just watched Oliver Stone’s series Untold History which detailed many of the US government’s years of aggressions against the Cuban revolution and people. So forgive me if I am disgusted to see such genuflection to the imperial power in Mr. Moses’ ” The United States can not and will not be manipulated by third world despots.” The Cuban revolutionary leadership, whatever you may think or claim to know, are hardly simply “third world despots” attempting to manipulate the United States.” Rather it is clear to all not blinded by hatred, that whatever faults they have, Cuba’s current leaders are and have been for some years, trying to keep the Cuban nation and people safe, healthy and independent. The major manipulators have been on the US side and Cuba’s efforts to withstand them have been essentially self-defensive. When the US stops trying with all its considerable might and deviousness to overthrow Cuba, then we might see respect replace manipulations. As to Gross and the Cuban Five, I don’t know what can bring some justice. Maybe if the US would apologize for spending millions and costing thousands of lives to manipulate the outcome of Cuba’s future, and pay the Five and their families the same wages Mr. Gross was paid, maybe then we’d see an end to US aggressions. Of course that is not going to happen. True despots don’t willingly give up power or their ill gotten gains.

  • Anyone who has followed the Castros for 5 decades understands full well the standard operating procedure of the Castro regime is to take hostages and manipulate them for bargaining power.

    If The Cuban govt truly wanted better relations with the USA they would release Gross. That they keep him held hostage on absurd charges is proof enough they want to maintain the state if siege imposed on Cuba. The condition allows the Castros to keep the entire Cuban nation heald hostage.

  • Exactly Michael. But I add: Cuba HAS one thing that’s very interesting for the US – a ‘crippled enemy’ who claims to be an alternative to globalized capitalism. It’s a perfect ‘counter-example’ for spreading its hegemony (in the Gramscian meaning of the word) around the globe. They’ve learned this cold-war lesson very well.

  • Just when you think Dilla has hit the bottom of the political barrel, you discover yet another false bottom.

    Political immaturity? “Socialist” Dilla seems to assume immaturity of anyone who’s not as, let’s just say, “overly mature” and bitter as himself.

    The five “spies”can’t be compared to Gross? Hell, he was working for the biggest spy agency on the planet, smuggling illegal state-of-the-art US Defense Department and CIA equipment onto the island?

    The five can be credited with the loss of lives? Whose? The Bothers to the Rescue? What’s that, some six degrees of separation indictment? Come on…

    This guy seems to have taken his personal setback personally, not just clouding but effectively eliminating any political insight he might have ever had.

    Whatever argument he might have loses any and all credibility with such sour resentment and reckless flailing. Worse than the ramblings of a certain black capitalist I have been unable to avoid

    Sad when you let your subjectivity get the better of you; even dangerous in this case.

  • The unilateral release of Alan Gross would accomplish nothing; the U.S. will not reciprocate with the release of the Cuban 5, nor will the U.S. interpret this as a step towards the re-establishment of normal trade and diplomatic relationship. Instead, the same tired demands by the U.S. will once again be repeated; for changes, Cuba would have to dance to the tunes of the U.S. piper. For more than 50 years now, U.S. policy towards Cuba has been–and will continue to be–irrational, even if this policy is against its own self-interest (e.g. the Mid-West farmers who could sell more agricultural products to Cuba). The only factor which would produce the desired results–for Cuba, at least–would be if great quantities of oil were to be discovered offshore, but it looks like this is not to be. If Cuba had what the U.S. multi-national corporations wanted, for example, like China’s cheap labor, or the Middle East’s oil, then there would be no problem; at this point, however, U.S. foreign policy is driven by self-interest. While U.S. policy ignores the undemocratic nature of China’s or Saudi’s, or–until a couple of years ago–Egypt’s politics, they continue to cry crocodile tears over Cuba’s one party state. Keep Gross ’til the end of his sentence–if he survives that long–or until the U.S. agrees to repatriate all of the Cuban 5.

  • This is a brilliant post and not only because I have been saying exactly the same thing on this site for more than a year! Should Alan Gross be injured, or worse, die wihile being held captive , the downside to Cuba and US/Cuban relations would be disastrous if not fatal. Secretary of State Clinton said that as long as Gross is in Cuba there will be no negotiations. Call her bluff and release him. Make some grand gesture proclaiming the decency and humanity of the Cuban people and then put him on an airplane. Washington would have no other choice but to respond in gratitude with some equally noble gesture. The Spaniard, Angel Carromerro, fell into Castro’s lap by virtue of an alleged traffic accident. Cuba was able to trade Carromerro for more “flexibility” from Spain with regards to the European Common Position. The United States can not and will not be manipulated by third world despots in the same way for the release of the five Cuban spies. Therefore, the next best hoped for outcome is too unilaterally release Mr. Gross and allow the leftist Cuban sympathizers within the US media to do their part. With John Kerry as Secretary of State and a second-term Obama less constrained by the Miami mafia, there is more reason to believe that Cuban interests would benefit. Besides, what could it hurt?

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