WH Calls on Cuba to Release Alan Gross, Remove ‘Impediment’ to Normalizing Relations 6

FILE - This undated handout photo provided by the Gross family shows Alan and Judy Gross at an unknown location. An attorney for a Gross, who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba, argued before a federal appeals court that his client should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)

FILE – This undated handout photo provided by the Gross family shows Alan and Judy Gross at an unknown location. An attorney for a Gross, who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba, argued before a federal appeals court that his client should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment. (AP Photo/Gross Family, File)

By Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau

The White House marked the fifth anniversary of U.S. contractor Alan Gross’s captivity in Cuba by calling for his release, saying it “would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba.”

Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been held in Cuba since his arrest on Dec. 3, 2009, for smuggling satellite communications equipment to Cuba as part of USAID’s pro-democracy programs.

The administration “remains focused on securing Alan’s freedom from a Cuban prison, and returning him safely to his wife and children, where he belongs,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement, saying the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about Gross’s health and that a release on humanitarian grounds would make it easier to normalize relations with Cuba.

But Gross has become increasingly frustrated with the U.S. government and its failure so far to win his freedom, said his wife, Judy, who said Wednesday it was “time for President Obama to bring Alan back to the United States now; otherwise it will be too late.”

“Alan is resolved that he will not endure another year imprisoned in Cuba, and I am afraid that we are at the end,” Gross said. “After five years of literally wasting away, Alan is done.”

The Cuban government has linked Gross’s release to the imprisonment of five Cubans convicted in 2001 of infiltrating South Florida military installations and spying on the exile community. But the administration has repeatedly ruled out a swap, saying the USAID subcontractor wasn’t a spy and can’t be part of a spy-for-spy swap.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called for Cuba to release Gross and urged the Obama administration to “step up its efforts” to secure an “unconditional release” for Gross.

“Unilateral concessions by the U.S. government to the Castro regime will help fund more human rights violations, and keep real freedom further out of reach for the Cuban people,” Rubio said.

6 comments

  1. NOT A REPLY, AN OPINION.

    An attorney for Alan Gross, an American citizen who has spent over four years imprisoned in Cuba, argued before a federal appeals court that his client should be allowed to sue the U.S. government over his imprisonment. I imagine when an American citizen proceeds to file a law suit against its own government,particularly after this citizen being compensated through its own government to perform a project such as a special trip to Cuba for “humanitarian reasons” it must be that such an American citizen must firmly believe its government has committed a wrongful action against the very citizen. This is a fact, there´s no getting around this.

    In other words, Alan Gross wants to sue the people of the United States (“a government of the people by the people”) for his imprisonment after being contracted for a compensation of $500,000 to travel to Cuba on several trips being described as “humanitarian misions”. Meanwhile, it is also a fact, Alan Gross filed reports for USAID of his four visits to Cuba in 2009. The report of the fifth and final trip was written by a representative of Gross’ company. A review of such reports filed were revealed on February 12, 2012, by the Associated Press (AP). According to the reports, Alan Gross was aware of the risks he was taking. One could infer the measure of the risk was in Alan Gross determination conmesurate with the compensation. It definately was not for free even though it is being described as “humanitarian missions”. Personally, I have heard of many “humanitarian missions” and “humanitarian causes” but the ones I´m familiar with are done without fees attached, and if out of pocketr fees are involved they are never hefty ones such as $500,000. Half a million dollars!

    I say many other people in this country must be in totally the wrong business, including many of the personnel in U.S. Armed Forces, specially the American soldiers who daily put their lives on the line for this nation–and meanwhile–not for the sum of $500,000 for a few trips worth on “humanitarian missions”, but for a normal starting soldier´s compensation of $18,500 dollars per year and more than likely on 24/7 duty. This simply doe not add-up. There´s no denying this fact.

    Then when things don´t go right, sue the government, which a U.S. Armed Forces soldier also cannot do. It sounds like a kind- of-like an extra special job perk.

    Here are the cold facts of this ordeal:

    FACT: 1.) USAID’s $20 millionUSD Cuba program, authorized by a law calling for regime change in Cuba, has been criticized repeatedly in congressional reports as being wasteful and ineffective, and putting people in danger law.

    FACT: 2.) Gross was working with Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a contractor working with USAID who had won a US$6 million U.S. government contract for the program in which Gross was involved, a controversial “democracy-promotion program” that ballooned under the Bush administration, to provide communications equipment to break the Cuban government’s ‘information blockade’. Gross received more than US$500,000, despite the fact that he spoke little Spanish and had not worked in Cuba before.

    FACT: 3.) Gross filed reports for USAID of his four visits to Cuba in 2009. The report of the fifth and final trip was written by a representative of Gross’ company. A review of the reports was revealed on February 12, 2012, by the Associated Press (AP). According to the reports, Gross was aware of the risks he was taking. AP reports that Gross did not identify himself as a representative of the U.S. government, but claimed to be a member of a Jewish humanitarian group. To escape Cuban authorities’ detection, he enlisted the help of American Jews to transport electronic equipment, instructing them to pack items a piece at a time in carry-on luggage, and also travelled with American Jewish humanitarian groups doing missions on the island so he could intercede with Cuban authorities if questions arose.

    FACT: 4.) When he was arrested, he was carrying a high-tech chip, intended to keep satellite phone transmissions from being located within 250 miles (400 kilometres). The chip is not available on the open market. It is provided most frequently to the CIA and the Defense Department, but can also be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID. Asked how Gross obtained the card, a USAID spokesman said that the agency played no role in helping Gross acquire equipment.

    FACT: 5.) Additionally, a law suit was filed in November in Washington DC by Mr. Gross and his wife, who were seeking up to $60 million from the United States and DAI, the contractor that sub-contracted Mr. Gross to go to Cuba under the State Department program, delivering satellite Internet equipment to Jewish groups. It accused his employers of sending him on five semicovert trips to Cuba without proper training, protection or even a clear sense of the Cuban laws that led to his detainment. Now, this is what the lawsuit states, signed by Alan Gross and his wife in attestation: “five semi-covert trips to Cuba”…………..”or even without a clear sense of the Cuban laws that led to his detainment”

    FACT: 6.) The case filed by Alan Gross and his wife led to the disclosure of some potentially embarrassing details for DAI and the State Department, highlighting the frequent haste and lack of attention to the risks of the State Department programs in Cuba. American officials call them democracy-building efforts, but under Cuban law considers them illegal attempts to undermine the government of Cuba, underscoring the dangers involved.

    FACT: 7.) Mr.Gross, imprisoned in Cuba, settled with DAI for an undisclosed sum this month.

    FACT: 8.) Its a very sad thing if Alan Gross is not the spy the Cuban government has determined he is.

    FACT: 9.) Its a very sad if it turns out Alan Gross broke the law in Cuba as a result of his actions in “humanitarian missions”.

    Everything else is postulation.

  2. Here´s a very rewarding “humanitarian mission” called Project HOPE:

    Since first partnering with the U.S. Navy in early 2005 to provide tsunami relief in Indonesia, Project HOPE has participated in more than 30 humanitarian missions with the U.S. Navy and Air Force sending more than 1,200 HOPE volunteers. These missions have achieved the following:

    1.) Provided care to more than 800,000 people

    2.) Offered health education to more than 230,000

    3.) Delivered $33 million in donated medicines and medical supplies

    In the past year Project HOPE has sent volunteers to the following countries on U.S. military humanitarian missions.
    Belize, Samoa, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati

    In addition to the volunteers we send on U.S. military humanitarian missions, Project HOPE volunteers make important contributions to many of our own global health programs and programs involving other partners. Over the past year Project HOPE volunteers have provided health education and care and other services in many countries including the following countries: Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Peru, South Africa, Tajikistan.

    My congratulations to these volunteers who offered their services gratuitously for humanity and willingly throughout the hundreds of “humanitarian missions”.

  3. So Gross was arrested for having a computer chip?WOW That a good sign of democracy don’t you think?Gross is just like many thousand of politic prisoners that get arrested and prosecuted by conviction,without any evidence what soever. If our authorities were about to arrest any Castro communist supporters in Florida for trying to divide the exile in Florida,I bet there would be a lot of in prison,right?

    • What´s the matter with you, you can´t read what is written and stated in black and white?

      –Or, you read something and don´t remember what you read and then you proceed to make-up new words as you go-along?,

      –Or is it, perhaps, you read the content and then want to manipulate the writer´s words to your self-serving political posture?

      –Please tell me, which of these erroneous zones do you deal-in?

      Because, here´s what I wrote so you don´t think you can say anything without a rebuttal which makes what you expressed GROSSLY foolish (no pun intended to Alan Gross´ last name).

      I wrote:

      “When he was arrested, he was carryinghigh-tech chip, intended to keep satellite phone transmissions from being located within 250 miles (400 kilometres). The chip is not available on the open market. It is provided most frequently to the CIA and the Defense Department, but can also be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID. Asked how Gross obtained the card, a USAID spokesman said that the agency played no role in helping Gross acquire equipment. ”

      Then you stated:

      “WOW That (that´s) a good sign of democracy don’t you think?

      My anwer to you:

      The U.S. democracy can legislate federal regulations in certain sectors of industry to prevent certain sensitive items and or products to not be sold, in the open market, such as certain high tech compuuter chips as the one Alan Gross was carrying on his trip to Cuba, which is also an item not allowed in the U.S.–for national security reasons–and is against the law in Cuba to posess it or carry it.

      Now tell me what is it you don´t understand? It´s very simple, except, only in the event you are not in agreement with the laws of the United States of American democracy, never mind the laws of Cuba, which prohibit anyone from carrying-around such high-tech computer chip and well as Cuba prohibits it.

      As for the rest of your garbled commentary regarding what somene “can say” and “cannot say” in this country that guarrantees all citizens regardless of their ideological beliefs under the First Ammendments rights, I´m not even going to discuss it.

      You´re undeniably frozen in 1959, a bad place to be, without moving forward–yet–while living in the United Sattes of America in 2014, in the begining of the twenty first century. And worst you want everyone else to become frozen with your thoughts backwards in time.

      “Deal with the present to solve the present for the past is gone leaving in its place the lessons from past mistakes, which is what took us to the place we are today, for it is only then we can change the future”. Jorge Garrido

  4. There is no crime to advertise cell phones and Satellite dishes in any country in the world except Cuba WHY? BECAUSE IN CUBA THERE IS A DICTATOR THE ALCOHOLIC RAUL (VODKA)CASTRO THAT IS RULING THE ISLAND WITH AN IRON FIST DENYING CITIZENS RIGHTS TO EVERY CUBAN IN THE ISLAND,OF COURSE PEOPLE WILL GET ARRESTED FOR CARRYING A COMPUTER CHIP.YOU WOULD GET BEATEN FOR DEMANDING FREEDOM TO PEOPLE.LOOK AT THE LADIES IN WHITE.NOTHING THAT COMES FROM THESE COMMUNISTS PIGS WILL SURPRISE ME.

  5. “Deal with the present to solve the present for the past is gone leaving in its place the lessons from past mistakes, which is what took us to the place we are today, for it is only then we can change the future”. Jorge Garrido

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