On December 3, 2009, Alan Gross was arrested and detained in a maximum security military hospital. He has been there ever since.
Alan’s only crime was daring to help provide Jews living in Cuba with better access to the Internet. During his five visits to the Island, Alan brought in telecommunication equipment to help Jewish communities there establish their own Intranet. Later, he also helped to improve their Internet access.
During one of those visits, according to the Washington Post, Cuban authorities even searched Gross’ bags, discovered the computer and cellphone equipment, and demanded that he pay a tax for bringing the equipment into the country. No one in Cuba took issue with his personal, humanitarian efforts until December 3rd, 2009, when authorities decided to arrest him.
The Cuban 5 – Espionage and Spying
In 1998, five Cubans were arrested and sent to U.S. prisons for a long laundry list of crimes involving espionage against the United States.
The five Cuban spies were trained intelligence agents, living and working in the United States to identify and track Cuban exile groups living in the U.S. The U.S. presented evidence in courts proving that the Cuban spies had infiltrated U.S. military facilities in Florida and were literally acting as “undeclared foreign agents” on U.S. soil, for the Cuban government.
The jail term for espionage in the United States is harsh – regardless of your nationality – so the five Cuban spies were put away in 1998 and the world forgot about them.
A propaganda outlet for the Cuban government called “Int’l Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5” responded to the Washington Post article about the Cuban spies, stating that the so-called “anti-terrorists” came to the U.S. to monitor anti-Cuba “terrorists”.
“The glaring omission in the editorial is that it never mentions that the reason the Cuban 5 came to the United States in the first place was to monitor anti-Cuba terrorists groups based in Miami.”
The irony is that the Washington Post made it very clear why the Cuban spies were in the U.S., and the activities they conducted while there. On the other hand, the propaganda outlet failed to inform readers about the fact that the Cuban 5 conducted very real anti-U.S. espionage activities, such as infiltrating a U.S. military installation.
There is no comparison between Gross and the Cuban 5, and the attempt by the Cuban government to utilize an innocent civilian – a humanitarian – is a travesty. It is further proof that Cuba is not interested in justice or morality, but is instead interested in using an innocent human life to win the freedom of five guilty spies.
The Fate of Alan Gross
On Thursday, February 23rd, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont went to Cuba and visited with Alan Gross at the military prison where he has been held since 2009.
Leahy and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama both met with Castro and tried to convince him to release Alan Gross. They spoke with Castro for over two hours, and even offered take Gross back to the U.S. with them.
Castro declined the offer without hesitation. Instead, he changed the subject to the five Cuban spies being held in the United States since 1998. Leahy told reporters that Castro even admitted that Gross wasn’t a spy, but it became apparent to everyone that Castro intends to use Gross as a pawn in its political maneuvering to win back the Cuban spies.
And since the U.S. government has no intention of freeing five guilty spies in exchange for one innocent human life, the situation remains at an impasse.
The tragedy is that Gross is 62 years old and is still facing about 11 years of his original jail term in Cuba. His family is concerned that they may never see him again.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Washington Post
(2) Channel 9 News
(4) Washington Post – Post Politics
(5) Washington Post