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  • The Alan Gross Case: A Blow to Obama's Soft Cuba Policy

    On February 4, the Cuban government announced it will demand a 20-year prison sentence for U.S. citizen Alan Gross. The 61-year-old Maryland resident was arrested in December 2009 in Havana after visiting Cuba to distribute satellite phones to Jewish and other civil society groups. Although details of his activities remain sketchy, Gross was employed by Development Alternatives, Inc., a U.S. State Department contractor, rendering democracy support work in the field. Gross was helping deliver technologies of freedom that Cuba’s leaders greatly fear.

    After over a year in jail, Gross, who is in declining health, is now formally charged with the commission of acts against “the integrity and independence” of Cuba. A Havana show trial will soon follow.

    The case is of high importance to the Obama Administration. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Arturo Valenzuela noted on January 11 that the Obama Administration “made it clear to the Cuban authorities that it’s very difficult to move to greater engagement in the context where they have continued to hold Alan Gross.” Cuban readiness to prosecute and condemn Gross to a slow death in a Havana prison is a heavy blow to the Administration’s soft policy of enhanced engagement.

    Over the past two years, the Obama Administration has sought to improve ties with Cuba by using executive authority to lift restrictions on travel and the dispatch of remittances to the island. The last round of liberalization measures were introduced in early January. It has also conducted several rounds of immigration talks with senior Cuban officials.

    The underlying assumption of this policy is that greater access to the island by Cuban–Americans, more “people-to-people” exchanges, respectful dialogue on issues of mutual interest, and easier transfers of remittances will build shared confidence and closer ties. Since 2009, the Obama Administration has distanced itself from the tough, pro-democracy stance of the Bush Administration, frequently derided as a strategy of “regime change.” Obama has embraced a strategy aimed at dialogue, tension reductions, and readiness to engineer a “soft landing” as the Castro brothers fade from the political scene and a succession crisis looms on the horizon.

    Yet, not unexpectedly, Cuban behavior in the Gross case is consistent with previous responses to U.S. openings. Once more the open hand of the Obama Administration encounters the clenched fist of Cuban tyranny. While less tragic, the Gross case is reminiscent of events such as the cold-blooded murder of four Cuban-Americans belonging to the Brothers to the Rescue in 1996. This brutal act torpedoed a budding effort by the Clinton Administration to improve relations with the Castro regime.

    Cuba’s message is clear: At the political core of the regime are its rejection of open dissent, pluralism, and genuine democracy and a reaffirmation of the principles of democratic centralism and political conformity so central to the Marxist–Leninist regime. It is also a reflection of deeply rooted anti-Americanism and “siege-mentality” situated at the core of the regime’s ideology.

    In Cuba, where all justice is political, there are still avenues open to Raul Castro. He can magnanimously pardon Gross after a conviction. At the back of Raul’s mind may be further pressure on the U.S. to pardon or release the so-called Cuban Five, who are charged with spying for Cuba in the 1990s. Many in the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress are hoping the Gross case will be just a speed bump on the way to better relations with the Castros. In the interim, Gross faces a bleak and unjust incarceration.

    When the world’s eyes are focused on Egypt and growing demands for real democracy there, Cuba—90 miles from the U.S.—remains a bastion of anti-democracy ruled by the Castro brothers for more than 50 years. Standing up for democracy in Egypt should not be matched by silence on Cuba.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to The Alan Gross Case: A Blow to Obama's Soft Cuba Policy

    1. Pingback: The Alan Gross Case: A Blow to Obama’s Soft Cuba Policy | Big Propaganda

    2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    3. Wayne McLeod Canada says:

      1. Gross broke the law.

      2. He was working with an American company.

      3. The American State Department supports him.

      4. Therefore, the American Government supports unlawful

      foreign activities. (what else is new?)

      5. He is in failing health. (?) He lost 100 pounds. He is more likely in improving health!

      6. Get your facts straight.

      • Larry Barnes says:

        Mr Gross "arrested in December 2009 in Havana after visiting Cuba to distribute satellite phones to Jewish and other civil society groups. Although details of his activities remain sketchy, Gross was employed by Development Alternatives, Inc., a U.S. State Department contractor, rendering democracy support work in the field".

        "1. Gross broke the law." Wayne Mcloudy, Canada

        Your comments violate Cuban law. You are therefore a hypocrite.

        Please go to Cuba and turn yourself in for a stint in a Cuban prison.

        If phones for "democracy support work" is a violation of a tyrants law and you say "Gross broke the law", the Mr Gross is an American hero.

        Canadians shrink from what is right and difficult. (What else is new?)

    4. Scott Carver says:

      It's this "Soft Policy" that our government has towards EVERYBODY that hates what America stands for that is the problem. Nobody respects the United States anymore because we don't give them a reason to respect us. I'm not a warmonger, and I'm normally one who will encourage talking first and foremost. However, in this case, this is a man who was working for our State Department. He's now being threatened with a 20-year sentence for delivering phones. And from what I read, he's in ill health, so it amounts to a life-sentence.

      What happened to taking care of our own. If nothing else, our State Department should be demanding that all charges be dropped, and our man returned home. Should that fail, we should send in an armed force to retrieve our man. Americans take care of our own, that's was what I was taught in Boot Camp. We do not leave anybody behind. Nobody rests until everybody comes home.

      If our government lets Cuba get away with this, then our government has failed in its responsibilities to the American People, and should be replaced. I urge everyone to contact their congressmen and women to let them know that this will noty be accepted. If our government allows this, demand that congress call for impeachment proceedings against the White House and State Department.

      Stand up for what is right, America.

    5. Tom Sullivan in FL says:

      Send in the Marines to liberate Gross. While they are there, liberate Cuba.

    6. Darrell Aldridge,UK says:

      great post,

      I love the whole historical war of communism and democracy, I still find it amazing that countries can exist in a communist way without revolution.

      It was easier to stifle the media and airwaves in Stalin's days but with today's media and international pressures of democracy, and the ever powerful hand of the capitalist world reaching "un-clenching their fist" to lesser nations and improving them politically, legally and economically. How does a communist government stifle the public with such control whilst they continue restricting fundamental freedoms we take for granted in more centralised democratic societies.

      crazy, good read

    7. Bobbie says:

      Another defiance of American leadership to protect and support Americans. I pray for Mr. Gross. I don't believe he broke the law on his own accord…

    8. Dale, Topeka says:

      I wonder when the students in Cuba will rise up like the students in Egypt? I would guess that 20,000 – 30,000 young activists in central Havana would be about all it would take for freedom to actually take root in Cuba. Get the Castro boys out and move in a little market democracy.

      I think that any society that cannot provide toilet paper to its people has failed. If you can't do at least that much, well then bragging about other things is only a facade. Just a thought.

    9. Pingback: Carter Goes to Cuba (again) : Reagan's List

    10. Larry Barnes says:

      Wayne McLeod Canada says "He is in failing health. (?) He lost 100 pounds. He is more likely in improving health!"

      He must agree with with a policy China once had that selling food to buy weapons would result in the improvement in the health of millions of Chinese.

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