COMMENTARY: Trade the “Cuban Five? Maybe, But For These Guys, Not Alan Gross 2

By Chris Simmons

For some time, the Castro regime has suggested various scenarios for an exchange of Alan Gross for up to six of its spies jailed or on parole in the United States.  However, Alan Gross is a hostage, not a spy.  As such, trading him for the Cuban Five cannot be seriously considered under any circumstance.  However, exchanging Gross for several indicted Cuban officials and all US fugitives on the island could benefit both nations.    According to law enforcement sources, as many as 70 US fugitives may be enjoying the protection of the Castro regime.

A precedent for such a prisoner exchange already exists.  In 1979, four CIA operatives jailed in Cuba for nearly two decades were exchanged for Oscar Collazo, who tried to assassinate Truman in October 20, 1950, as well as Lolita Lebron and three other Puerto Ricans who shot up the US Congress on March 1, 1954.  Additionally, in June 2008, Cuba returned American fugitive Leonard Auerback to the US to face Federal charges of sexually abusing a Costa Rican girl and the possession of child pornography.  Cuba also allowed Luis Armando Pena Soltren to return to the US in October 2009 to surrender to FBI officials to face a 40-year old indictment for air piracy.

In this scenario, the Cuban Five would be exchanged for Alan Gross, all 50-70+ fugitives want by the US, and four indicted Cuban officials.   The indicted Cubans are all associated with the murder of four Americans during the February 1996 shoot down of two US aircraft flown by the humanitarian group, Brothers to the Rescue.  Indicted by the US on August 21, 2003 were General Rubén Martínez Puente, Lieutenant Colonel Lorenzo Perez Perez, and his twin brother, Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Perez Perez.  All three were indicted for conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of destruction of aircraft, and four counts of murder for the shoot down of the two aircraft and the death of the crews.  Ironically, most of the evidence against them was developed as a result of the 1998 arrests of 10 members of a Cuban spy ring known as the Wasp Network.  Another Cuban officer to be included in the proposed exchange is Lieutenant Colonel Juan Pablo Roque, another member of the Wasp Network, also remains under indictment for conspiracy to commit murder and espionage-related charges.

Among the wanted US felons are terrorists Víctor Manuel Gerena and Joanne Chisimard.  On the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted” List, a million dollar reward is offered for Manuel Gerena  Similarly, a million dollar bounty is offered on Joanne Chisimard for the May 2, 1973 execution of a New Jersey state trooper  The crimes committed by the dozens of other felons include numerous counts of murder, air piracy, and other heinous acts.

So, regarding the idea of exchanging the Cuban Five for Alan Gross – no, not now, not ever.  But trading the Cuban Five for Alan Gross and as many as 74 terrorists, indicted officials, and other dangerous criminals?  That’s an idea worth considering.  I’d say yes to “75 for 5!”



  1. @ Chris Simmons,Sir we should never negotiate with a terrorist nation.Alan Gross was not spying in Cuba the 5 Cuban spies were spying in United States at the time of their arrest, this is the difference.The Cuban 5 were fairly prosecuted according to the law of our land with the same rights a common american citizen enjoy,if any US citizen was arrested in Cuba for espionage within 24 hours he or she will be shot by firing squad.Those advocating freedom for the five are mainly the ones that are supporting or are members of Castro’s repressive regime,if we free those 5 spies,we indirectly will be slapping the faces of all those who suffered prison terms in Cuba for fighting communism (My father including) and all those who have been murdered by Castro’s thugs.No one knows how dirty communists operate unless you have the misfortune to have live and suffered under Castro.Now that we are living in a free society the less we can do is to defend it,PLEASE DO NOT FREE THE 5,let them serve their sentences.Thanks!

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