R.M. Schneiderman, editor and writer for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, wrote in the Foreign Affairs Magazine (December 21, 2012) that the single biggest reason Barack Obama cannot make peace with Cuba – is Alan Gross, US Jewish citizen serving out 15-year prison sentence in Havana. Cuban officials claim that Alan Gross was working for the US government and trying to subvert the state while working as a contractor in Cuba.
Israeli leaders and American Jewish groups have been campaigning for the release of Alan Phillip Gross on several dumb excuses including allegedly Gross was dying in jail as result of cancer. It’s also reported that Sen. John Kerry (Obama’s nominee for new foreign secretary) met Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez in secret in 2010 to convince Havana for releasing Gross.
Havana, on several occasions has shown its willingness to swamp Alan Gross for the five Cuban serving jail in the United States for llegedly spying for Cuba.
The Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) won a USAID contract, code-name, ‘Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program’ on August 14, 2008 – and quickly hired Alan Gross who was arrested in Cuba on December 3, 2009 while working on the project. In November 2012, Alan Gross and his wife Judith sued both US government and DAI for $60 million for not providing adequate personal protection or training Gross for the risky job.
Alan Gross was found distributing satellite communication equipment to the local Jewish community. Havana has claimed Gloss was illegally aiding dissidents and inciting subversion on the island. In August 2012, Cuba’s highest court upheld the 15-year prison sentence passed on Gross by a lower court earlier. During his retrail, Alan Gross pleaded that he was on a “hunitarian mission” in Cuba!
On January 15, the US government declared itself immune from the $60 million lawsuit. I bet there must be some Cuban frozen bank accounts in the US, which Washington could use to pay off Alan Gross’s family. Washington has been emptying Iran’s $27 billion frozen accounts to pay every jerk who sues Tehran.
Desmond Butler wrote at Associated Press on February 13, 2012, that Alan Gross was far from the “innocent” as he has been portrayed. He was sub-contractor to the government agency USAID, which promotes “regime change” in Cuba. He was working on a $500,000 contract to smuggle sophisticated telecommunication equipment – including a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track – into Cuba. The Cuban Jewish community did not ask his help because they already had their own intranet and internet access. And Gross himself knew what he was doing was illegal. He wrote in one memo: “This is very risky business”.
Tracey Eaton, a Cuban investigative reporter and blogger posted a detailed report documenting the story behind Alan Gross case. Read it here.
Professor Stephen Kimber (University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada) wrote an open letter to Barack Obama on January 5, 2013 clarifying the fog around the ‘Cuban Five’.
“The real military goal of the five Cuban intelligence agents was to protect Cuba from possible American attack. That such an attack was possible is beyond dispute. Just remember Grenada (1983), Panama (1989) and Haiti (1994). US Lt. Gen. James Clapper while testifying at the trail of the Five testified: “Cuba doesn’t represent a threat to the US“.
Stephen Kimber is author of one novel and seven non-fiction books. His latest book, ‘What Lies Across the Water: The Real story of Cuban Five’, is expected to hit bookstores in 2013. Kimber’s personal blog can be read here.