Smart diplomacy results: Cuba Seeks 20 Years for Alan Gross

posted at 7:30 pm on February 5, 2011 by Fausta Wertz

As I posted last month at my blog, Obama eased travel & money restrictions to Cuba in exchange for nothing. The news was announced on late afternoon Friday January 14, and easing travel restrictions to Cuba, and allowing U.S. citizens to send up to $2,000 a year to help Cubans support religious institutions or run small businesses.

In an economic environment where the dictatorship fired from state jobs between 500,000 to 1,300,000 people, the island is broke. The fired workers supposedly will be allowed to become self-employed in 178 trades (strictly defined in a “Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy” issued by the dictatorship), even when currently there is no private sector in Cuba, and whatever private sector there may trie to exist, will do so at the whims of the dictatorship.

The Communist regime currently is being propped up by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Chavez in turn has become a de-facto dictator and must spend lavishly in his own country in order to keep himself in power. Were Chavez to reduce his aid to Cuba,

Cuban social services, the flagships of the Revolution, cannot be sustained under the current economic model and can only remain if all the reforms recommended by President Raúl Castro are enforced.

What this amounts to is to prolong the Cuban Communist dictatorship to live for yet another day.

What did the US get in exchange? Nothing.

The Cuban government has been holding US citizen Alan P. Gross prisoner for since December 2009 without charge on suspicion of spying. Gross has now been formally charged with spying

Prosecutors are charging a jailed American contractor with “acts against the integrity and independence” of Cuba and requesting a 20-year jail term, state news media reported Friday, dimming hopes the 60-year-old Maryland native would be allowed to go home soon.

According to the AP article,

Gross was working for a firm contracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested Dec. 3, 2009, and sent to Havana’s high-security Villa Marista prison. The project Gross worked with was part of a $40 million-a-year USAID program to promote democracy and political change on the island.

U.S. officials have defended the program and said they will never give up pushing for democracy and openness in Cuba. Detractors of the Cuba project have criticized it as ineffective and counterproductive.

While Gross claims to have been working with the 1,500-strong Jewish community, the leaders of the island’s two main Jewish groups have told The Associated Press they had nothing to do with him.

Juan Tamayo, writing at the Miami Herald (via Babalu) reports

Then on Friday, Gross’ Washington lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, issued a surprisingly affirmative reaction to the Cuban announcement, saying that “after 14 months in a Cuban prison without charge, the fact that Alan Gross’ case is now moving forward is a positive development.

“We respectfully urge the Cuban authorities to free Alan immediately for time served,” Kahn added, without making any mention of the 20-year sentence.

Rather than seek Gross’s release and the freedom of Cuban political prisoners as a condition to the easing of travel and money restrictions, the Obama administration granted huge concessions for nothing.

Now Gross is still in prison, will be undergoing trial and may spend the rest of his life (he’s 61 years old) in a Cuban jail.

Smart diplomacy? Thanks for nothing!

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog

NOTE: This post was promoted from Hot Air’s Green Room. You can read the original post along with comments here.


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Rather than seek Gross’s release and the freedom of Cuban political prisoners as a condition to the easing of travel and money restrictions, the Obama administration granted huge concessions for nothing.

Now Gross is still in prison, will be undergoing trial and may spend the rest of his life (he’s 61 years old) in a Cuban jail.

Let’s keep him in our prayers. His situation looks unbearable..and bleak.

ColtsFan on February 5, 2011 at 7:57 PM

Nothing this Adnministration does is by accident.

One of the easiest ways to “solve” the Gitmo problem is for the Obama Administration to officially recognize Cuba.

In the dark recesses of White House thinking this has to be one of those thoguhts being kept alive.

If we officially recognize Cuba, then Cuban law will once again hold sway over non-US military personnel at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station…and “Gitmo” as a detention facility goes away.

In this vein, nothing can be considered too dear to not be discarded, to include a 61-year-old US contractor rotting away in a Cuban prison.

The Administration is indeed getting what it wants from Cuba…not just yet. Give it time.

coldwarrior on February 5, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Fausta, no.

What this amounts to is to prolong the Cuban Communist dictatorship to live for yet another day.

What did the US get in exchange? Nothing.

that’s not what it amounts to. you’re overboard here,

it’s a way for people here to send money home to their families without having to go through Canada or something.

nothing is going to keep the Castro regime afloat much longer and there’s no longer any possibility that anything will be gained by not helping the people there.

audiculous

audiculous on February 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Raul Castro will not survive long after Fidel dies. The majority of Cuban people hold the senior Castro as a kind father-figure, and clearly have been willing to forgive him for the mess their nation is in. As is often the case, the king is not seen as evil, only his advisors.

But Raul is one of those advisors, and I don’t believe he will get the benefit of the doubt once Fidel passes. Many of my oldest friends are from the families of Cubans who fled that island decades ago. They often remind me they have been betting Castro can’t live forever, well, forever.

But I believe soon Obama and his Hollywood friends will see the Cuban people throw off the yoke of socialism. No doubt they will blame it on global warming.

doufree on February 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM

I think it’s time to go to war ala Jenkin’s Ear.

I’ll be happy to fight especially if I’ll get to dance Salsa in Havana afterwards (Oh and I want a classic car from there too.).

Tim Burton on February 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Do you suppose all the Leftists who are currently supporting the rebellions in all those Muslim nations will alter their stance if and when Cubans do the same on the streets of Havana?

honsy on February 5, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Did anyone really expect the Obama administration to do anything about this situation? Obama probably called up Raul personally and after a brief conversation agreed with him completely that Alan *is a spy*…that Obama is one smart cookie, doncha know?

Geministorm on February 5, 2011 at 8:18 PM

honsy on February 5, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Sure wish Cubans had good internet access and twitter.

It’d be nice to see a Tunis go down in Havana right about now.

coldwarrior on February 5, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Not that the administration shouldn’t be trying to negotiate this guy’s release, or anything but… I don’t see why this and the other recent policy changes re:Cuba need be related, nor do I see why the fact that they weren’t linked should imply that the administration is not still negotiating his release.

You guys are jumping to all sorts of bizarre conclusions lately.

DaveS on February 5, 2011 at 8:21 PM

He should serve 20 years in prison…for stupidity. Anyone who goes to Cuba for any reason at all is an idiot. Anything that anyone does there only serves to strengthen the Communist regime.

scrubjay on February 5, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Me thinks this is another perfect thread for ted c’s earlier post…

Read more: http://newsflavor.com/politics/world-politics/white-house-insider-they-were-in-shock-at-the-presidents-behavior/#ixzz1D7mOzKFD

ted c on February 5, 2011 at 5:03 PM

(good political porn)

Either Obowma did this on purpose…

… or he left it to an Aide that had no idea on how the international political game of “give and take” actually works.

Because being President of the United States…

… is hard.

Seven Percent Solution on February 5, 2011 at 8:42 PM

He should serve 20 years in prison…for stupidity. Anyone who goes to Cuba for any reason at all is an idiot. Anything that anyone does there only serves to strengthen the Communist regime.

scrubjay

he was passing out equipment to enable Cubans bypass the regime’s censorship. don’t think he was working to help the regime.

audiculous on February 5, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Ronald Reagan’s Birth Certificate

“The 40th President of the United States had no trouble producing a birth certificate. In fact it is on display at the Reagan Library”

Nearly Nobody on February 5, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Barry is a socialist, he supports other socialist countries.

GarandFan on February 5, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Shall we play a game of “Connect the Dots”…?

Dot #1 (of many) – Due to the moratorium on oil drilling in the gulf, which by the way, violated a Federal Judge’s order and the Obowma Administration is now in “Contempt of Court“, we have to borrow money from China to buy oil from foreign nations, one of them, Venezuela…

Dot #2 – Hugo Chavez, Dictator of Venezuela, has taken over oil production from private companies in his country, and uses said profits from the sale to the United States to stay in power and prop up Communist Cuba…

Dot #3 – China, Venezuela, and Cuba are drilling for oil just off the coast of Florida to sell back to the United States, where we can not thanks to Obowma, where we will have to borrow the money from China, to buy oil from Venezuela, who will in turn prop up Cuba…

Dot #4 – Obowma is too busy planning a Super Bowl Party to be bothered with such details, or even know that an American is being held in a Cuban gulag…

(… I am sure he will have time to read his Aide’s memo about all of this when he gets around to it.)

Dot #5 – Obowma, his State Department, and the CIA either new about the pending protests in the Middle East and did nothing, or they are totally incompetent, and our enemies see this, and will take every opportunity to gain from it whilst they can…

Dot #6 – Thanks to our “Free and Independent” press, the average American citizen knows nothing about this…

Dot #7 – Thanks to Obowma, we are totally scrooooommmmed!

Does that pretty much sum it up…?

Seven Percent Solution on February 5, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Well, I guess it shows once again that we’re too dumb to understand “smart diplomacy.” I hope that’s consolation to Mr. Gross.

Obama who has ignored the will of the American people regarding HCR, proceeds to lecture Mubarak about how he needs to listen to his own people and quit taking political prisoners. Totally without irony.

flataffect on February 5, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Obama would have helped him if he were a Palestinian, I bet.

profitsbeard on February 5, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Obama would have helped him if he were a Palestinian, I bet.

profitsbeard

you’re probably also betting on the Chicago Bears to win by 12 or more tomorrow.

audiculous on February 5, 2011 at 11:10 PM

you’re probably also betting on the Chicago Bears to win by 12 or more tomorrow.

audiculous on February 5, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Nope. Steelers by 3.
Bet you have a large tinfoil bill, tho’.

profitsbeard on February 6, 2011 at 12:22 AM

Nope. Steelers by 3.
Bet you have a large tinfoil bill, tho’.

profitsbeard

Green Bay unless the Steelers can knock Rodgers around a lot.

no tin foil in the house at all since the niece stuck some in the microwave.

audiculous on February 6, 2011 at 12:42 AM

Spying on Cuba…?
For what..the ingredients of a rum and coke…?

NeoKong on February 6, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Obama administration creed:

“Let’s imagine the best outcome for the USA…and do our best to prevent it!!!”

landlines on February 6, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Maybe the Cubans will pull an Egypt and make the lefties all go Ga Ga.

Col.John Wm. Reed on February 6, 2011 at 1:39 PM

We once sold the plans/schematics to a tank type Electrolux vacuum cleaner to the Cubans who thought the plans were for a new small compact jet missile.

Col.John Wm. Reed on February 6, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Spying on Cuba…?
For what..the ingredients of a rum and coke…?

NeoKong

he wasn’t charged with spying.

audiculous on February 6, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Player swap, obozo for Gross?

grapeknutz on February 6, 2011 at 3:43 PM

audiculous on February 6, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Audi, always the contrarian. From the AP article linked by Fausta:

Prosecutors are charging a jailed American contractor with “acts against the integrity and independence” of Cuba and requesting a 20-year jail term, state news media reported Friday, dimming hopes the 60-year-old Maryland native would be allowed to go home soon.

Alan Gross has been jailed without charge since December 2009 on suspicion of spying.

OK, nitpicker, he was held for suspicion of spying since 2009 but was charged with “acts against the integrity of Cuba.”

And the difference, not counting semantics, is?

BigAlSouth on February 6, 2011 at 10:54 PM

We can always count on audiculous to defend the left no matter what. Say, how about those serial numbers for the U.K. missiles? You still haven’t presented them (shocka). As BigAlSouth has demonstarted yet again, you are incapable of debating honestly. You also clearly have no problem lying to defend your POV.

DaveS, let me use small words for you.
Mr. Gross is an American citizen.
He is falsley accused of spying by a dictatorial regime.
Why should we NOT link some concessions to his freedom?
1) Either obama’s admin is doing nothing to free him
2) They are doing a very poor job of trying to free him

Hard Right on February 6, 2011 at 11:43 PM

OK, nitpicker, he was held for suspicion of spying since 2009 but was charged with “acts against the integrity of Cuba.”

And the difference, not counting semantics, is?

BigAlSouth

big. spies get long sentences. and the guy who asked “what the heck there is to spy on has a point.

Gross was distributing communication devices without permission of the government. that might get a whole lot less time and leave a whole lot of wiggle room.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 12:32 AM

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 12:32 AM

And as to Fausta’s point: Why not tie easing currency regs to letting Gross come back home, for “humanitarian reasons”?

Was Obama uninterested because Gross was assisting the Jewish Community in Cuba?

BigAlSouth on February 7, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Was Obama uninterested because Gross was assisting the Jewish Community in Cuba?

BigAlSouth

yeah, that must be what everything is about. really inspired guess, Biggie. or is hatred of Cuban Jews really widespread? did you hear something about Obama demanding the the easing of aid to Cuban religious organizations and small businesses exclude Jewish organizations and businesses run by Jewish Cubans?

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Hey audiculous, where are those missile serial numbers?

Hard Right on February 7, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Hey audiculous, where are those missile serial numbers?

Hard Right

on the engine and the chassis.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 7:42 PM

on the engine and the chassis.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Audi, you should use more humor and less surliness. That was actually pretty funny.

BigAlSouth on February 8, 2011 at 10:53 PM