United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

United States Cuba Relations – The Alan Gross Cuba Postulate

We are all hoping and praying that Alan Gross, the American arrested in Cuba in December for bringing in unauthorized computer and satellite equipment into Cuba will be eventually freed and returned home. When will constructive negotiations begin for the release of all the human beings caught in both countries with in our tragedy of current U.S. Cuba relations? Recently the Washington Post published an ignorant op-ed equating the release of Mr. Gross as the bargaining chip for lifting U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans. It would behoove the Washington Post editorial board to travel to Cuba and see for themselves the results of our failed policies in Cuba. They need a reminder that Americans never subrogated their rights to freely travel anywhere to foreign policy failure. That is part and parcel of what it means to be an American. Restricting Americans’ rights to travel to Cuba freely only hurts every one American and Cuban, and does not promote human rights. It violates them. Violating one human right for the sake of another is flawed foreign policy and doomed to fail.
What is interesting to consider is would Mr. Gross be in a Cuban prison right now if Cuba were not on the State Sponsor of Terror List? While the facts and circumstances in his case are not fully public yet, consider what he allegedly was doing – establishing satellite communications for internet purposes in Cuba, we are told. Now, if Cuba were not on the Terror list, the ability to establish telecom and internet business in Cuba would have likely grown and would have been further enhanced by President Obama’s initiatives issued last April. But as discussed in prior posts, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act stripped Cuba of its sovereign immunity for the purposes specified in the act and bred a cottage industry of law suits against Cuba which obtained numerous multimillion dollar default judgments. Now plaintiffs and their lawyers want to collect against any Cuban assets they can find in the U.S. So how can there be any telecom or internet business between the U.S. and Cuba if the Cubans cannot collect their payments without worry of seizure? This whole scenario created the greed filled and pernicious situation that Cuba is among the expensive places to call from the United States, violating the human rights of anyone who has family or friends in Cuba.This needs to change and we have the ability to change this situation. Take Cuba off the terror list.
The postulate is simple – Alan Gross would have never had any reason to travel to Cuba to establish unauthorized or clandestine satellite internet connections if there had been normal telecom business between the United States and Cuba in the first place. Moreover, he would not be sitting in a Cuban jail right now. But who restricts Americans’ rights to freely travel to Cuba? We do. Who has an embargo on Cuba? We do. Who put Cuba on the Terror List? We did. Who can change these failed policies? We can. President Obama, Alan Gross and many others need you to pay more attention to the failed policy with our neighbor 90 miles from Florida. Now.


Jose Luis Rodriguez said...

I like reading your blog because I am interested in Cuba because of Ernest Hemingway and the Finca Vigia. Someday I want to go see it. But I've been reading your blog awhile I was happy Anyway, thanks for the colorful and interesting blog!

Anonymous said...

Tying the fact that Cuba is on the State Terror List to the reason as to why there is no internet connectivity in Cuba is ignorant. The Cuban government expects to receive a fiber optic cable from Venezuela in 2010 and has stated that it STILL plans to restrict access when this comes to fruition. The fact is that the Cuban government is an oppressive one which chooses to clamp down on its people at the whim of its mood. Poor Alan Gross, wishing to do good for people in a country where the government refuses to relinquish any power.

Editors said...

Editor’s Response to Anonymous Comment:

Your comment still does not change the postulate – Alan Gross would not be in jail in Cuba today if there were normal telecommunications between the U.S. and Cuba in the first place. And there are no normal telecommunications between the U.S. and Cuba because at least from the U.S. standpoint – we put Cuba on the terror list and we have the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act which effectively bars the possibility of having any normal business transactions with Cuba, even the ones President Obama authorized last April. Its basic Economics 101 – if there is no security in getting paid, why do business in the first place. The Cubans logically do not want to worry whether payments for long distance services will be seized by the lawyers and plaintiffs (attention Republicans – here is another area for tort reform…) They got burned for over $100 million in 2002. Why take the risk of doing business with us now if the same thing can happen again? We point out there are no collect call services to the United States from Cuba since that time. Why?

The argument about Cuba’s oppression could be more effectively made in our opinion if we were not contributors to the oppression with our insane policies that regretfully hardline embargo supporters want to maintain despite their failure to change anything other than waste precious taxpayer dollars. What is also oppressive is that there are no collect calls from Cuba, and it costs over one dollar a minute to call Cuba from the U.S. Too bad for the families and friends who are stuck in either country and want to have a normal conversation. We further assert that Venezuela would not be in the picture or importance it plays now with Cuba if we had normal relations with Cuba. There is a company right now in Florida with a license ready to put a fiber optic line into Cuba that could compete with the Venezuelans, but no business will likely happen under our status quo.

The fact is the largest population of Cuban natives and descendants are in the United States. They could play, but do not play, a far more significant role in influencing Cuba. Instead we have chosen misguided policies from the embargo few that prefer we interfere in Cuba rather influence it. That is the problem we see from the U.S. side in this whole drama.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.