Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Alan Gross deserves solidarity

    Posted on Sunday, 12.04.11

    Alan Gross deserves solidarity

    In 1973 Natan Sharansky chose to emigrate from the Soviet Union to
    Israel. Prior to that, he was a run-of-the-mill Soviet, without all that
    much comprehension or interest in human rights. His exit permit was
    rejected, and thus Sharansky went on to become one of the most important
    champions in the struggle for human rights of the past century. As a
    result, in 1977 he was convicted and sent to Siberia for 13 years of
    forced labor; indicted for espionage on behalf of the United States of

    After eight years of hardship in the communist dungeons, owing to the
    tenacious efforts of his wife Avital; the outspoken participation of
    Ronald Reagan, who pressured Moscow; the collective work of N.Y.
    Congressman Benjamin Gilman, Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, and especially the
    Jewish community, which mobilized itself to alert public opinion of his
    plight, Natan Sharansky was given his liberty. He was granted safe
    passage to Israel, where his participation in various social and
    governmental functions has been a benefit to the people and the Jewish

    Today, 34 years later, another Jew, this time a U.S. citizen whose
    passion has been to help the most needy in any part of the planet, is
    held hostage by a different communist dictatorship, one almost as
    entrenched and more ferocious than the Soviet: that of Cuba. Alan Gross
    has been sentenced to serve 15 years in a maximum security facility for
    the supposed felony of providing high speed Internet satellite equipment
    as per Cuba's law number 88 (the so-called Reaffirmation of Cuban
    dignity and Sovereignty law). In any segment of the globe, an effort in
    this field would be considered as a gesture of solidarity that
    contributes to development and access to information on the Internet.

    But not in Cuba, where access to information is verboten, except for
    that which has first been filtered, analyzed and scrutinized, as though
    it were a chemical purification meant to protect the people who receive
    it from being contaminated by thoughts and desires for liberty and
    self-determination expressed by people anywhere — from Tunisia to Los

    For Cuba, the rule of law does not exist. Judicial powers are completely
    controlled and subordinated to the executive consisting of the Castro
    family, head of a military dictatorship that has lasted more than five

    During the trial and sentencing of Alan Gross, his assigned defense
    attorney was Nuris Pinero Sierra, who is none other than the general
    director of Collective Law Offices in Cuba — an appointed position
    designated through the highest echelons of the government and likewise
    subject to complete and total censure by dictate of said governance.
    That attorney, coincidentally, was also the designated defense attorney
    for the five spies who faced trial and were convicted in the United
    States. One of those spies was also implicated in the 1996 assassination
    in the air of three U.S. citizens and one legal U.S. resident, members
    of Brothers to the Rescue.

    The international campaign for the release of Alan Gross has commenced.
    His wife, Judy Gross, and his lawyer Peter Kahn have enlisted the
    efforts of Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the Jewish Federation of America,
    the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, the Jewish Community Affairs
    Council of Greater Washington, and the Community Relations Council of
    the Jewish Federation of Tidewater. It will be necessary for each Jewish
    community in America and throughout the world to echo the call to free
    an innocent man.

    The Gross family, along with their friends, has started a vigil every
    Monday at noon on the site of the Cuba Interests Section in Washington.
    It is vital that we support them, not only Jews but everyone who
    supports individual liberty, those who see the right to information
    simply as one more human right and those who are or were crushed under
    the boot of the Castro dictatorship.

    These voices must be heard in front of each Cuban consulate and embassy.
    It doesn't matter if they number 10 or 100 at first. We must be
    indefatigable in working to save that innocent 62-year-old diabetic with
    various medical issues who has already lost 100 pounds since he was
    arrested. Now is the moment for Alan Gross.

    Roland J. Behar is a political analyst focusing on Cuba, the Middle East
    and Judaism.