An American Hostage in Cuba

By: Daniel Nardini

 Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary Alan Gross, an employee for USAID, has now been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba for “espionage.” His crime? Trying to set up Internet access for the small Jewish community there. Even if one could possibly accuse Mr. Gross of “espionage,” the fact of the matter is he did nothing that could have possibly done any damage to Cuba’s national security nor really damaged U.S.-Cuba relations since there are none. But Gross did nothing wrong—his only intent was what he stated and that was to provide information to the Jewish community there.

Why is the Cuban government doing this? Simple, they want some “leverage” to try and blackmail the United States to establish relations with Cuba and also to get something from the United States in return for freeing Alan Gross. He is a hostage in a vicious game that until now was only something done by either Iran or North Korea. But this sort of blackmail will not work. There are too many right-wing extremist Republicans in the U.S. Congress who will turn around and say “we told you so” and be able to tighten the screws on Cuba the way it was done under former U.S. President George W. Bush.

As much as current U.S. President Barack Obama has not yet established official U.S.-Cuba relations, he had made more concessions than any U.S. president in living memory. But, ironically, the Cuban government has thrown a wrench in the works. The hardline actions of the Cuban government (and let us face it, since the Communist Party of Cuba controls everything in Cuba—including the judiciary—you know full well who is keeping Alan Gross in jail) has killed any efforts on the part of Obama or any other person in the U.S. government or private sector from trying to advance trying to get closer to dealing with the Cuban government.

The fact that the Cuban government will not release Alan Gross even on humanitarian grounds, even when he has some serious medical problems, makes the Cuban government look more vile. And nothing will change as long as Alan Gross is in prison. It does not matter whether he worked for USAID or not. He did not do anything that would have violated Cuba’s constitution nor violate Cuba’s strict Internet laws. Guilt by association is as equally wrong to use as an excuse. But then the Communist Party of Cuba as a I said is using this poor man as a pawn in an inexplicable game.

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