Maggie Alarcón

The political handicap

In Alan Gross, CAFE, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Politics on October 3, 2012 at 9:21 am

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Judy Gross, paid a visit to her husband Alan a couple of weeks ago. She saw her husband three times. After these encounters and upon her return to the US she made public statements through her lawyer alleging that her husband was in very poor health and that he should be freed on humanitarian grounds due to his health.

Alan Gross, a diabetic with high blood pressure, has lost much weight since his imprisonment. He resides in a military hospital in the City of Havana and shares his space with other such inmates (all Cuban). He has a controlled diet and is monitored constantly by the hospital physicians.  His loss of weight is most likely due to two factors: a strict diet to treat his diabetes and high blood pressure and the obvious emotional affectation that being held in a state of imprisonment must mean to anyone.

Gross has publicly said that his situation is easily turned around if the United States and Cuba do what Israel and Palestine did last year: exchange 1000 for one prisoner. He has openly stated that his release is in the hands of exchanging himself for the Cuban Five.

The Cuban government has been slow to openly promote such action and what it does is speak to the possibility of holding open conversations with the United States regarding a “solution” to the situation.

Cuban Director of the US Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Josefina Vidal,  said last week that Cuba has sent multiple messages to the State Department requesting a conversation and offering a solution to this dilemma. The US has since responded in the press that “it does not believe that Cuba wants to talk about anything regarding Alan Gross.”

During a live radio interview, Judy Gross said that the US government should be taking its “moral responsibility” for sending her husband to Cuba. (Arturo López–Levy)

Yet the response from the US Department of State is nil and what we see in the news is a reaction from members of Congress,  demanding Alan Gross’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds.

This ploy to both undermine any possible course of action and to diminish the chance of actually reaching a consensus between both nations on the issue of bettering bi-lateral relations is part of why day by day it becomes more and more evident that the ball is in the US court and they just don’t want to play.

President Raul Castro, has practically been yelling at the four winds that his government is willing to sit down with the US and hold talks; all issues involving both nations would be on the table, no restrictions, no quid pro quo. Again, as in the case of Alan Gross, the response from the US has been nil, zilch, silence.

The reality is this, on the one hand we have Alan Gross who came down under contract to bring in equipment that is illegal in Cuba. He did this because this was the job he was being paid to do by US AID which in Cuba’s case pretends to promote democracy. Here’s  my question: Who asked the US to export their form of governance to the island? Was it the natives and I missed the boat to the meeting? Was it the UN? The Security Council? Nope. Its mainly the Cuban American lobby which unfortunately has the upper hand when it comes to US Cuba policy.

On the other hand Cuba has five men unjustly imprisoned in the United States. They were not spies, nor were they trying to overthrow the US government. They were simply protecting Cuba from violent criminal acts against their homeland (Cuba) which were being perpetrated by individuals living in the US, specifically in the South of Florida and New Jersey.

Does everybody see the difference, or is it just me and Alan and Judy Gross?

The United States has a history of liberating prisoners who have done more harm to the nation than the Cuban Five.  Unfortunately, all eyes point towards that impossibility during an election year.  Unless a tidal wave of national and international support for both cases comes about, Gross and the Five will become a greater handicap than the embargo in the conflict between Cuba and the US.

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