Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Going to Cuba?: The wrong itinerary

    Going to Cuba?: The wrong itinerary
    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Americans pondering a jaunt to Cuba this year under relaxed
    restrictions won't be able to pop in and say "hello" to . Nor
    will they find him in the isle's nightclubs or smoking one of its famous
    stogies in a comfortable chaise longue.

    No, Mr. , 61, a Maryland subcontractor, is doing 15 years in a
    Cuban on trumped-up charges of conspiring against "the integrity
    and independence of Cuba" for illegally importing computer gear. The
    Obama administration's crack foreign policy team has been entirely
    ineffectual in securing his release. Even Jimmy Carter, on a trip to the
    communist island in March, couldn't liberal up a pardon — although an
    appeal reportedly is pending.

    Yet despite Cuba's latest flagrant nose-thumbing, the U.S. is moving
    ahead with a new travel policy that's supposed to bring everyday Cubans
    and Americans together, supposedly for mutual understanding.

    Even if Mr. Gross is released tomorrow, lifting the travel ban won't sow
    the seeds of democracy, free enterprise and liberty in the hardened
    concrete of Cuban communism.

    "The only thing it does is provide hard currency for a totalitarian
    regime," says U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who grew up in a
    Cuban- family.

    In fostering "better understanding," we doubt any travel itinerary will
    include Cuba's despicable accommodations for political prisoners.