By Arturo Lopez-Levy 23 January 2013
The case of Alan Gross, an American development expert sentenced by Cuba to fifteen years in prison for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”, is the latest instalment (sic) in the tense story of Cuba-US relations. Negotiating is the only way to break the cycle.
Last year, in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of representatives, Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) demanded that Wendy Sherman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, reveals whether the US somehow tried to negotiate with Havana, the release of Alan Gross. Mr.
Gross is an international development expert who worked for a contract of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and is serving a fifteen year prison sentence in Cuba, condemned for participating in acts against Cuban sovereignty and political integrity.
Gross entered Cuba five times as a non-registered foreign agent. His mission, as a USAID subcontractor, was to create a wireless Internet network that would circumvent Cuban government detection. The USAID program was approved under section 109 of the Helms-Burton Act, a law committed to regime change in Cuba. Gross’ actions were covert. He never obtained the informed consent of the Cuban Jewish community, which has always expressed opposition to the Helms-Burton law, particularly its attempt to politicize religious communities as tools to promote opposition groups.
Mr. Gross didn’t know Cuba and didn’t speak Spanish. Gross loved Cuban music but that is hardly a qualifier for the type of covert mission he was recruited for by Development Alternatives Initiatives (DAI), a contractor for the US government. A clear indication of the lack of professionalism of the USAID Cuba program is its recently declassified listof go-to sources of information about Cuba headed by the website Babalu Blog. You don’t need to be a Cuba expert to realize that the Babalu blog is hardly eduational (sic) on Cuba but disseminates right wing propaganda against every Cuban American or American who disagrees with its writers’ McCarthyism. Accordingto Babalu Blog, for example, President Obama is a “Marxist tyrant” in the “Stalin-Mao-Castro tradition”.
Questioning the Obama administration, Republican congressman Rivera said: “It is outrageous that the Obama administration would be negotiating with a terrorist regime to free an American hostage.”
This policy is correct: the US should not give in to the demands of terrorists. That would only encourage them to take further hostages. But this has nothing to do with Gross or Cuba.
Rivera’s references to terrorism are a manipulation. The State Department has not recorded a single terrorist act sponsored by Cuba in two decades. Recently, Havana hosted another round of negotiations between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos. The Colombian government not only appreciated Cuba’s facilitation of the conversations but also demanded that Havana be included in the next Summit of the Americas. In Spain, the other country supposedly a target of groups protected by Cuba, the ETA has demobilized and successive socialist and popular governments have thanked Havana for receiving freed commandos of the Basque organization.
Read more here: Alan Gross: Time for a Negotiated Solution
Editor’s Note: Arturo Lopez-Levy is an admitted “former” intelligence officer closely connected to Cuban President Raul Castro. He details some of his spy service in his recent book,
Raul Castro & the New Cuba