Punishing the Cuban Government

By: Daniel Nardini

Judith Gross, the wife of Alan Gross, the American prisoner in Havana, Cuba, has brought a lawsuit against Mr. Gross’s former employer Alternative Development, Inc., and against USAID. In the lawsuit, Mrs. Gross alleges that they did not train her husband properly about the job he was supposed to do in Cuba, and did not sufficiently warn him about potential risks in Cuba. I cannot argue with that. The U.S. government most certainly has let Alan Gross down, and the company who hired him certainly did not inform Gross of the possibility that he could be arrested and tried by the Cuban government at any time he visited Cuba. Well, this has all come to pass. What must also be considered is that the U.S. government should probably now be taking off the kid gloves and play hardball with the Cuban government.

Hopefully the lawsuit by the Gross family will get the U.S. government to do more for Alan Gross. For whatever he did wrong, Alan Gross certainly did not intend to break any Cuban laws. He only wanted to provide the small Cuban Jewish community with Internet equipment to help it communicate with other Jewish communities around the world. Clearly, Alan Gross is innocent of any intent to be a spy or saboteur. Being Jewish himself, he simply tried to help out his fellow Jews in Cuba. For this he has been sentenced by a Cuban Communist court to 15 years in prison for “espionage and committing crimes against the state.” The fact that the state is itself anything but democratic, and that its court system is a sick joke, does not seem to enter into it.

While I agree with the Gross family’s decision to sue Alan Gross’ former employer and the U.S. government for putting Mr. Gross in this mess, I feel that more should be done to force the hand of the Cuban government. What the Cuban government is doing is thumbing its nose at the United States by holding an American political prisoner. It seems that U.S. President Barack Obama is taking a “wait and see” policy and is trying to negotiate for Gross’ release. This approach does not seem to be working. What makes it more necessary than ever for his immediate release is his health. Before he went into a Cuban prison, he was a healthy middle age male. Now he has lost 100 pounds, is suffering from bouts of depression, and he may have a cancerous growth under his right shoulder blade. In other words, he may not survive another year in a Cuban prison. Sometimes the threat of military force is the only thing the Communist Party of Cuba may understand. That threat in my book should be laid bare before them. If Gross dies or is killed in prison, then retaliation should be exacted on the Cuban government. Some say this might cause the Cuban government to take more Americans hostage. It might, but then America should respond with more retaliation. We have to keep in mind that the Cuban government has used brute force against its own people. Hence, it may become necessary to deal with the Cuban government in the same way.

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