Washington Post Continues to Obfuscate the Alan Gross Case

Celtic Festival in Cuba

CeltFest Cuba (see link at end)


The Washington Post has played a shameful role in the Alan Gross affair, providing only incomplete coverage of what he was doing and why and publishing editorials that were defense briefs at best.  By amplifying the official US line it constrains the State Department's ability to find a reasonable diplomatic solution.

Its latest effort was a long story yesterday in the Lifestyle section that was appropriately sympathetic to the hardship of Judy Gross. 

Readers who want to know more than the Post spin about the case should look at the Associated Press story based on Alan's own leaked reports. Perhaps most damning is that on his final trip he was carrying SIM cards that are normally available only for military and intelligence purposes to hide the location of the BGAN transmitters that the Post only half acknowledges he was distributing. 

Alan's case has never been helped by denial of the serious illegality of his actions under Cuban law, or for that matter under US law had he been an unregistered agent of a hostile foreign power operating covertly here.  

The bottom line is that sectors of the US government believe we have the right to intervene in Cuba and other countries if we disagree with their political systems, in this case to create an independent satellite linked encryptable internet node that was accessible to anyone in the vicinity, not just the announced recipients in the Jewish community.  

In the case of Cuba the presumption of a right to intervene is a problem that has plagued our relationship for more than a century and is exacerbated by the agenda of the diminishing minority of vengeful exiles who exploit the power of the state for their self interest. 

The question remains why it was worth $600,000 to USAID/DAI (Development Alternatives Incorporated) to wire the already well connected tiny Jewish community directly into satellites. Were they using Alan as a pawn and the Jewish community as a cover for dissidents to make use of their wifi zones?  Or was it just DAI's need to move its contract money out the door that led to its irresponsibility and lack of due diligence? 

I hope the Pope is able to lend his moral authority to encourage both countries to grant immediate compassionate leave for two weeks to both Rene Gonzalez and Alan Gross, and in a timely fashion release of the remaining four Cubans imprisoned by the US on more disproportionate sentences than Alan received.  However even an imperfect humanitarian step is opposed as vociferously on the left  as on the right.

The awkward issue of return to probation in the US for Rene or imprisonment in Cuba for Alan could be finessed if their leave were extended for humanitarian reasons until Rene’s brother and Alan’s mother passed away. Hopefully the time of both brother and mother will be longer than feared and space will be created for larger changes in bilateral relations that will allow the releases to become permanent.  

Cuba certainly wants freedom for the remaining Four to be an immediate part of a larger change but it may not serve its interest to allow that desire to be an obstacle if the US is really prepared to take other significant steps toward normalized relations once Alan is home.  

John McAuliff 

Fund for Reconciliation and Development  

Links and Resources
*  This is the full statement by the Pope on Marxism which is tendentiously distorted by edited versions:
“Today it is evident that Marxist ideology, as it was conceived, no longer responds to reality. In this fashion, it can no longer respond to the construction of a new society.”  
Mauel Alberto Ramy explores with nuance in Progresso Weekly what that means for today's fast evolving Cuba.
*  Cuba's third annual Celtic Festival takes place April 14 to 21 in Havana and Pinar del Rio (photo above).   Parallel to it is the first people to people trip focused on the little known Irish Heritage of Cuba.