Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Humanitarian Alan Gross Held By Cuba as a Political Pawn

Humanitarian Alan Gross Held By Cuba as a Political Pawn

The Alan Gross story shows just how dangerous it can be to travel to a
Communist state-controlled country like Cuba.

On December 3, 2009, Alan Gross was arrested and detained in a maximum
security military hospital. He has been there ever since.

Alan's only crime was daring to help provide Jews living in Cuba with
better access to the Internet. During his five visits to the Island,
Alan brought in telecommunication equipment to help Jewish communities
there establish their own Intranet. Later, he also helped to improve
their Internet access.

During one of those visits, according to the Washington Post, Cuban
authorities even searched Gross' bags, discovered the computer and
cellphone equipment, and demanded that he pay a tax for bringing the
equipment into the country. No one in Cuba took issue with his personal,
humanitarian efforts until December 3rd, 2009, when authorities decided
to arrest him.

The Cuban 5 – Espionage and Spying

In 1998, five Cubans were arrested and sent to U.S. prisons for a long
laundry list of crimes involving espionage against the United States.

The five Cuban spies were trained intelligence agents, living and
working in the United States to identify and track Cuban exile groups
living in the U.S. The U.S. presented evidence in courts proving that
the Cuban spies had infiltrated U.S. military facilities in Florida and
were literally acting as "undeclared foreign agents" on U.S. soil, for
the Cuban government.

The jail term for espionage in the United States is harsh – regardless
of your nationality – so the five Cuban spies were put away in 1998 and
the world forgot about them.

A propaganda outlet for the Cuban government called "Int'l Committee for
the Freedom of the Cuban 5″ responded to the Washington Post article
about the Cuban spies, stating that the so-called "anti-terrorists" came
to the U.S. to monitor anti-Cuba "terrorists".

"The glaring omission in the editorial is that it never mentions
that the reason the Cuban 5 came to the United States in the first place
was to monitor anti-Cuba terrorists groups based in Miami."

The irony is that the Washington Post made it very clear why the Cuban
spies were in the U.S., and the activities they conducted while there.
On the other hand, the propaganda outlet failed to inform readers about
the fact that the Cuban 5 conducted very real anti-U.S. espionage
activities, such as infiltrating a U.S. military installation.

There is no comparison between Gross and the Cuban 5, and the attempt by
the Cuban government to utilize an innocent civilian – a humanitarian –
is a travesty. It is further proof that Cuba is not interested in
justice or morality, but is instead interested in using an innocent
human life to win the freedom of five guilty spies.

The Fate of Alan Gross

On Thursday, February 23rd, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont went to
Cuba and visited with Alan Gross at the military prison where he has
been held since 2009.

Leahy and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama both met with Castro and
tried to convince him to release Alan Gross. They spoke with Castro for
over two hours, and even offered take Gross back to the U.S. with them.

Castro declined the offer without hesitation. Instead, he changed the
subject to the five Cuban spies being held in the United States since
1998. Leahy told reporters that Castro even admitted that Gross wasn't a
spy, but it became apparent to everyone that Castro intends to use Gross
as a pawn in its political maneuvering to win back the Cuban spies.

And since the U.S. government has no intention of freeing five guilty
spies in exchange for one innocent human life, the situation remains at
an impasse.

The tragedy is that Gross is 62 years old and is still facing about 11
years of his original jail term in Cuba. His family is concerned that
they may never see him again.

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