Cuba’s cynical maneuver
Posted on Monday, 03.14.11
The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL
Cuba's cynical maneuver
OUR OPINION: No improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations until Alan Gross is free
The 15-year verdict handed down by a Cuban "court" against U.S. citizen
Alan Gross is the deeply unjust result of events that bear no
relationship to due process in an impartial legal system. Let's call
this cynical maneuver what it really is — blackmail.
The 61-year-old Mr. Gross is not a criminal of any sort. He's a chess
piece manipulated by the Cuban regime in the relentless war against its
own people. The Castro brothers want to stop ordinary Cubans from
obtaining the slightest bit of information from the outside world from
any independent source. Punishing this envoy from a private U.S. company
financed by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development
is a convenient way to deter further efforts to circumvent Cuba's
extensive system of communications surveillance.
Satellite phones are increasingly common instruments used to make calls
around the world. But not in the Orwellian world run by Fidel and Raúl
Castro and their paranoid minions. In Cuba, a satellite phone like the
one Mr. Gross is accused of carrying for use by the island's tiny and
impoverished Jewish community is deemed a dangerous weapon in an alleged
"cyber war" being waged by the U.S. government to bolster a web of spies
plotting to bring down the government.
In most any other country, a violation of customs regulations might
result in a stiff fine and possible expulsion from the country. In Cuba,
where the state controls all information outlets, violations that
threaten the state's hegemony are seen as crimes that endanger the
security of the state.
The real target of this mock-judicial charade is the "pro-democracy"
funding from USAID designed to promote Cuba's budding civil society
movement. People who can think for themselves, talk to each other and
learn from each other without government intrusion represent a danger to
the state's tyrannical masters, which practice various forms of mind
control designed to snuff out any kind of independent action.
At a minimum, the punitive actions against Mr. Gross should throw a
splash of cold water on what some call the warming in relations between
Washington and Havana. He should be released unconditionally and
immediately. As long as Alan Gross remains in jail, there can be no
improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations.
President Obama came to office saying his administration would respond
positively to an unclenched fist from previously hostile governments. We
doubt that the mistreatment of Alan Gross by the Cuban government is
what he had in mind as an appropriate response.
Oscar Elías Biscet, a longtime dissident, was released by the Cuban
government last week after enduring years of suffering following an
arrest in 2003 for the crime of speaking out against the government. His
release is gratifying to his many admirers in and out of Cuba, but it
doesn't change the fact that the physician should never have been
imprisoned to begin with.
On Monday, the courageous Mr. Biscet called the Castro regime a "total
dictatorship" that fears an informed citizenry. The actions against Alan
Gross prove his point.