In The Baltimore Sun: "Alan Gross: A Victim of U.S. Policy on Cuba"
"It's been said that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
No case illustrates this suffering more than that of Alan Gross, a Maryland resident and USAID subcontractor who was working to connect the Cuban Jewish community to the Internet and was detained by Cuban authorities one year ago. Campaigning for his release these many months, his wife, Judy Gross, fears that her husband has become a "pawn" in the half-century Cold War between the United States and Cuba."
That's an excerpt from a commentary that fellow THN contributor Arturo Lopez-Levy and I published in today's The Baltimore Sun. The piece examines not just Alan Gross's case, but the history of the controversial USAID program for which he was working, and other major flaws in the program that impact not just US contractors but the Cuban "beneficiaries" too. Arturo, who has deep roots Cuba's Jewish community, is deeply frustrated over what he sees as the US government's failure to obtain the informed consent of Cubans on the ground. To read the whole piece, click here.
We're pleased that The Baltimore Sun wanted to dig a little deeper into complex and sensitive issues such as this one, which, in its myopic editorial of December 7, The Washington Post utterly failed to do. While we agree with the Post that it is long past time for the Cuban government to give Gross a fair hearing or let him return home to his family, this tragedy didn't transpire in a vacuum. U.S. policy and the Obama administration itself, which never conducted the policy review Secretary Clinton promised Senator Richard Lugar nearly two years ago at her confirmation, bears crucial responsibility too for landing Mr. Gross in his current predicament.
Judy Gross, who in a letter to The Miami Herald called on Presidents Obama and Castro to improve the tortured relationship of which she considers her husband a victim, also talked to The Forward recently. Here's a snippet from the Jewish Daily Forward website:
Asked about her husband’s current situation, [Judy Gross] said: “It might as well be day one. The Cubans don’t really want to sit down and talk with us at all. We’ve tried to engage them many times.”
This unwillingness of the Cuban authorities to engage Mrs. Gross confirms what many seasoned Cuba experts have believed since the start: that the U.S. government must do the engaging, whether directly with the Cuban authorities, or by taking steps - a good faith gesture, at minimum, if not a real retooling of the regime change-oriented program - that can more indirectly influence the outcome of the case (which still has not gone to trial).
The Forward's Gal Beckerman wonders why the American Jewish community isn't more up in arms about Alan's situation. And while she finds a desire not to create problems for the Cuban Jewish community comes into play, Judy Gross herself gives a most revealing answer:
“I think his cause needs to be taken up as a humanitarian cause, and I think it needs to go public, but I don’t think it’s a Jewish issue.”