By Margarita Alarcón
The trial was finally held. It concluded and the verdict is in. The accused: Alan Gross, the accuser: the Cuban government.
Mr Gross had been held in detention in Cuba for the past 15 months pending trial on charges of “acts against the independence and the territorial integrity of the nation” as stated by the prosecution. He had previously made 7 trips to the island and this was the eighth. On this occasion he brought with him specific electronic equipment (BGAN-Inmarsat) which pretty much enables one to access broadband connections from anywhere and to anywhere. BGAN´s are not legal in Cuba; only authorized by the government in extreme circumstances and only to foreign press agencies which have in the past been required to apply for permission to both bring in and use said type of technical equipment in order to facilitate news casts.
Mr Gross was working for DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.) a contractor for USAID and has been quoted as testifying that DAI “put him in danger” and “ruined the life and economy of his family.” He has pleaded “guilty” to the charges and has now been sentenced to 15 years.
Alan Gross and his family are now the victims of yet another shenanigan from the United States which for the past half century have been generally incited by certain minds in the South of Florida and New Jersey. Lately it makes no difference which Party you’re from; if it has to do with Cuba, in favor or against it’s a bi-partisan issue.
On the other side of the straights two politicians are on the rampage over another issue regarding Cuba. In a bi-partisan effort Senator Marco Rubio (R) Florida and Senator Bob Menendez (D) from New Jersey have submitted a bill which proposes to prohibit direct flights from the United status to Cuba on the grounds that Cuba is on the State Departments list of terrorist nations, something Col Lawrence Wilkerson has been arguing against for the better part of 4 years now. (Larry BTW is a military man, a republican and former chief of staff of former US Secretary of State Gen Colin Powell.)
There is a $20 million budget set up by the State Department to pay for democracy programs in Cuba in 2010, most of these “programs” are subversive, and have the clear intention of undermining the government on the island. Both these facts frankly, the type of thing that is illegal anywhere, including the United States.
On the one hand you have Alan Gross which shouldn’t have been sent over in the first place and much less under false pretences. On the other hand you have two members of the US legislative body proposing to do away with open and out right travel to Cuba. Why this obsession with the cloak & dagger?
It would be much more productive to in fact do away with the charter flights altogether and establish in their place direct to and fro commercial routes from the recently authorized 8 ports from the US. Something that is long over due between Cuba and its closest neighbor.
State could then use the $20 million to establish research and fact finding missions between Cuba and the United States on issues such as national vaccine campaigns and education efforts between both nations to name just two which now come to mind.
Alan Gross should never have been sent down as a pseudo spy and under false pretenses; North Americans should be allowed to come down directly and openly, there is no need for complex undermining of the Cuban government, there is much need for cultural, political, social and scientific exchange. Open and direct.