Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    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 is free

    The 15-year verdict handed down by a Cuban "court" against U.S. citizen
    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 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 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 . 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 , 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.