US: Trading Alan Gross for Cuban Spies is Unlikely 2

Asked if a Gross-for-spies swap might be possible, a State Department official replied, ‘No, I don’t think so.’

By Juan O. Tamayo,

Cuba’s offer to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross for five Cuban spies convicted in Miami is not at all acceptable to Washington, a senior State Department official affirmed Monday on the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest. Asked directly if a Gross-for-spies swap might be possible during President Barack Obama’s next four years in the White House, the official replied, “No, I don’t think so.” “We reject the notion of linkage,” added the official, who met with several journalists in Miami but asked for anonymity under State Department procedures. “There is no parallel between the two cases.”

Gross’ continued detention in Havana has become a powerful roadblock in efforts to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, with the Obama administration holding off talks on migration, drug and people smuggling and other issues until he returns home. The official noted that while the administration will continue its policy of helping the Cuban people — it lifted most restrictions on Cuban-American travel and remittances — it is “very hard to see us making progress in bilateral relations while he is in jail.” U.S. officials have previously denied the possibility of a deal for Gross and the spies. But the third anniversary of the U.S. man’s arrest sparked a new round of speculation — some of it fueled by Cuban authorities — about a swap.

Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009 after he delivered three satellite telephones to Cuban Jews so they could access the Internet and contact people abroad without using the government’s tightly monitored telephone monopoly. The phones were financed by the U.S. government under pro-democracy programs that Havana outlawed as an attempt to topple the communist system. Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for acts against Cuba’s “independence or territorial integrity.”

The five Cuban spies were convicted in Miami in 1998 as part of the so-called Wasp Network. Cuba calls them heroes, saying they were assigned to South Florida to monitor and avert any possible exile terrorist plots against the island. Four remain in prison, with one serving two life sentences on murder-conspiracy charges for helping Cuban warplanes shoot down two civilian airplanes in 1996, killing all four South Florida men aboard. The fifth spy completed his 13-year prison term last year and is now serving a three-year parole somewhere in the United States.

The State Department official said that while what Gross was doing in Cuba was “perfectly legal anywhere else in the world,” the five spies were convicted of clearly illegal activities. The anniversary of Gross’ arrest also brought a flurry of calls for his release, including one issued by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Ben Cardin, D-Md. “As the unjust imprisonment … nears its three year mark, we were hopeful that the Cuban government would soon announce its intention to grant Mr. Gross’ release,” the senators noted. “Though we are deeply disappointed by Cuba’s failure to make such an indication today, our commitment to Alan’s cause is undiminished and we will continue to work to ensure his immediate and unconditional release.”

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  1. Juan O. Tamayo is a little more explicit when saying that Alan Gross “delivered 3 satellite telephones to Cuban Jews so they could access the Internet and contact people abroad without using the government’s tightly monitored telephone monopoly”. Now it is clear that the Cuban government is trying to involve the Cuban Jewish community in some plot against its totalitarian rule.

    This is very similar to the “Doctors’ Plot” invented by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in early 1953 when the Kremlin Jewish doctors were accused of trying to assasinate him and other Soviet leaders. After Stalin’s death, on March 5, 1953 it was proved that behind the Doctors´Plot was the Soviet Ministry of State Security and that orders had been given to the security services of other communist states “to uncover” similar Jewish-Zionist plots aimed at killing the communist leaders of Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Needless to say that the arrested Jewish doctors were released and rehabilitated after Stalin’s death.

    Unlike Stalin, Raúl Castro´s regime is more careful and refrains from accusing directly the Cuban Jewish community. Castro is trying to create an association between Gross, a Jewish entrepreneur and certain persons within the Havana Jewish community, the potential recipients of 3 powerful and sophisticated satellite telephones, far exceeding the communication needs of a tiny community of no more that 500 persons who had never opposed the regime or engaged in dissident activities. On the contrary, the Cuban Jewish community has been deeply infiltrated and closely watched by MININT agents and in order to survive it was forced to express its support for the regime. It simply doesn´t make sense that such a vulnerable community, made up mostly of elderly persons, should actively engage in undermining the regime. Such a plot exists only in the minds of paranoiac and decrepit dictators whom no one dares contradict.

    Given the lifelong pro Nazi sympathies of the Castro brothers, no one should be surprised by this episode of official antiSemitism in Cuba. At the same time, like in the case of Joseph Stalin, it heralds the approaching end of the Castro dictatorship. As the Spanish saying goes: “no hay mal que dure cien años”, 53 años ya nos sobran y nos bastan a todos en este mundo. ¡ Libertad, basta ya de injusticia y maldad !

    Sergio Klein
    Dec.4 2012

  2. I said once before, The Castro Brothers will never negotiate when they are not in a position of power or control,this is the reason why these bastards has been governing for 53 years.The US government should not trade the 5 spies for Ross because #1 Gross is not an spy ,the 5 incarcerated Cubans are the real spies.#2 If our government negotiate and trade Gross for the 5 Cubans,is going to be a victory for the Communists and their propaganda machine.WE SHOULD STICK TO OUR MOTTO.” WE WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORIST COUNTRIES”

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