United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

United States Cuba Relations: The Alan Gross Solution

Judy Gross, a psychotherapist and the wife of imprisoned American in Cuba, Alan Gross, recently wrote an impassioned plea for his release , http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/07/1913184/jailed-husband-a-pawn-in-us-cuba.html?story_link=email_msg . Unfortunately, Alan Gross is indeed caught up within the United States and Cuba’s tragic relationship. One of the key contextual issues that has held up any improvement and progress in relations between the United States and Cuba has been the lack of mutuality between the parties. The United States does not formally view Cuba as a sovereign, independent, nation and does not respect it as such. Cuba views the United States (government) as the representation and extension of the hardline Cuban American community obsessed with its destruction. This is reflected with our policies of an embargo; travel restrictions on our own citizens to Cuba; preferential immigrant status to Cubans through the Cuban Adjustment Act; and taxpayer funded “democracy” projects at the cost of tens of millions of dollars annually. Alan Gross, regretfully became an agent and instrument of that policy when he accepted the DAI contract. And instead of being a hostage in Cuba, he became an accused criminal for violating Cuban laws, instead of being a benefactor to Cuba’s Jewish community. This is not about bringing satellite phones or trying to establish internet connections in Cuba. It is something far more significant.
Press reports suggest that Alan Gross will stand trial for violating Cuban laws. My concern is that he is going to be treated exactly like we have treated Cuban nationals accused of parallel crimes here in the United States, ie. The Cuban Five. Mrs. Gross should be pleading first and enlisting the support of the hardline Cuban American community because politically they bought and control our policy. President Obama is unfortunately, the political instrument of that community now. He could categorically break that stranglehold on his own initiative, but at the cost of millions of dollars in political money and the perceived notion he will lose Florida in 2012. The truth is, he already lost this community in 2008 and again in 2010 and should not count Florida for 2012 either unless something changes. Nothing is going to change the political dynamics with the status quo. Now of course, hardline Cuban American leaders are calling for Gross’ release, but at what exchange? Why would Cuba release Alan Gross if the United States is going to maintain and continue the very policies of interference that infuriate them and strike at the heart of their sovereignty? This is the fundamental dynamic that must change to create a context upon which I believe he could be freed. However, the political will for the diplomacy required to do this is not in place, yet. So Alan Gross will likely stand trial for still to be specified charges. And Cuba will send another message to the world demanding respect and recognition for its sovereignty and its laws. But there is an alternative.
A possible solution for his release lies in my opinion on our government doing the following:
1) Suspend current and cease all future funding of Cuba “Democracy” projects.
2) Any development projects in Cuba in the future would have to be done openly and in consultation.
3) Begin sensitive diplomatic negotiations for the release of Alan Gross with the appointment of a Special Presidential Envoy to Cuba to begin discussions and negotiations.
4) Similarly, begin seeking a solution to the problem of the Cuban Five, by either Presidential commutation or pardon and returning them back to Cuba.
Now what I have just suggested in the eyes of Cuban American hardliners is preposterous. For them, we must never recognize the Cuban government at any cost, including if this means Alan Gross goes to jail for a very long time. Negotiating in good faith with the Cuban government for Alan Gross’ release means we must recognize them and respect them. Now why would we negotiate with that government? I think Cuba’s form of government is an example of socialism gone wild. But I also believe that by the United States being a good example of pluralism and democracy, a good neighbor, and through friendship we can do more to help Cuba develop itself into being a better nation. We must choose positive and peaceful influence over interference with Cuba. Interference simply has not worked. We take this positive approach now with China, Vietnam, and other nations who we have serious political differences with. Why can’t we do the same with Cuba?
Maybe the case of Alan Gross is finally going to precipitate an urgently needed political separation between President Obama, the Democratic party and this group which has no solution other than to maintain our failed policies with Cuba and with it, will wind up keeping Alan Gross a prisoner there.
Mrs. Gross’ next move should be a face to face visit with Cuban American congressional leaders, sadly all hardliners, and challenge them and demand that they help facilitate her husband’s release by cutting off the funds and ending the very policies that got him into trouble in the first place. Then let the United States and Cuba, two parties who would each benefit from some political psychotherapy – for us to learn to treat our neighbor with respect in spite of our differences and for Cuba to learn not to be so paranoid, and begin talking with each other, not at each other. Both countries need to get beyond the past and our common, tortured history. In the midst of this crisis, there is this opportunity now for a breakthrough.
Let us pray that humility, humanity, and reason will prevail and that Alan Gross along with all the other human beings caught up in the travesty that is U.S. Cuba relations - the Cuban Five and all political prisoners still in Cuba, are freed. Let those who are wise listen and act diligently. Alan Gross needs to get back home to his spouse and a family that need him. So do all the rest of these human beings currently imprisoned in both countries. - Tony Martinez


Rodrigo Huaimachi said...

I hope the mainstream media pick up this article!! It is time for the US and Cuba to sit begin a process to normalize relations.

Tony Martinez said...

Send it to your local newspapers and like it on Facebook,etc. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

While the article makes some very good points, I would like to correct one and add one. Anyone old enough to remember or who has studied Cuba diligently would know that the image of a powerful rightwing Cuban-American lobby determining US policy is putting it backwards. The tail does not wag the dog and until the Heritage Foundation proposed the creation of such a lobby in the Santa Fe report (telling Reagan what to do about Cuba in the 80s), there was no such thing. Washington listens to what certain Cuban-Americans say only as long as it serves the interests of Wall Street, the military-industrial-pharmaceutical complex, and others who benefit from the ongoing policy against Cuba.
Second, if you are going to suggest freeing all the prisoners caught up in this (a good suggestion) you should include Ana Belen Montes, who has suffered a harsher penalty for her altruistic attempt to help the Cuban people defend themselves than all the others combined (total isolation with no possibility of parole until she is 70 years old; with no one allowed to visit, write or phone her except her immediate family (who happen to work primarily for the US military and FBI). That would be a fair swap for Alan Gross, along with the Five; Cuba has already released more than ten times that number...

JOSE GALAT said...



JOSE GALAT said...



Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

How can someone compare the five Cuban's criminals, processed and declared guilty with all the guaranties that our legal system has with the Mr. Gross case, where a man is in prison for almost a year without any official charges filed?