Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    A pawn in Cuba’s power game

    A pawn in Cuba's power game
    By Editorial Board, Wednesday, October 17, 1:05 AM

    ANGEL CARROMERO, a 26-year-old youth leader in Spain's ruling Popular
    Party, was the driver of a car that ran off a rural road in Cuba and
    crashed on July 22, killing one of the country's leading dissidents,
    Oswaldo Payá, as well as another activist. Mr. Carromero denies he was
    at fault; a surviving passenger, a young Swedish activist, has said that
    "it's wrong to accuse" him of culpability. The families of the two
    dissidents agree and declined to press charges against him.

    Nonetheless, on Oct. 5 a Cuban court convicted the Spaniard of vehicular
    homicide. On Monday, he was sentenced to four years in prison. Mr.
    Payá's family was excluded from the brief trial; 42 dissidents were
    detained on the day it was held. The blogger Yoani Sanchez, who had
    driven to the town of Bayamo in order to cover it, was arrested and
    jailed for 30 hours.

    Why did Cuban authorities respond in this way to what they describe as a
    one-car accident? Mr. Payá's widow believes she knows the answer: The
    authorities, she charges, are trying to cover up what really happened in
    the crash. Family members have received accounts that the sedan Mr.
    Carromero was driving may have been forced off the road by another
    vehicle. They have called for an independent investigation with
    international ­involvement.

    Spanish observers have their own suspicions. The regime of Raúl Castro,
    they say, is likely seeking to punish the ruling Spanish party for
    supporting the Cuban opposition. In a news conference orchestrated by
    Cuban authorities, Mr. Carromero and the Swedish activist said they had
    brought money for Mr. Payá and were helping to organize a youth movement.

    Mr. Carromero's sentence will come as no surprise to the family of Alan
    Gross, an American development contractor who has been a prisoner in
    Cuba since 2009. Mr. Gross was arrested for supplying computer equipment
    to Cuba's tiny Jewish community under a U.S. aid program. Sentenced to
    15 years, he has become a pawn in a gambit by the Castro regime to
    secure the return of five acknowledged Cuban spies who were captured and
    convicted of espionage in the United States.

    Mr. Carromero may be in prison as a way of preventing the true story of
    Mr. Payá's death from emerging, as his family believes. Or he may be a
    victim of a crude attempt by the Castro regime to extort concessions
    from the Spanish government. Spain is still attempting to obtain Mr.
    Carromero's release — just as the Obama administration has tried, so far
    in vain, to free Mr. Gross without meeting the regime's demands.

    What's sure is that Mr. Carromero should not be in prison because of Mr.
    Payá's death. That he is offers a clear answer to those who wonder
    whether the Castro regime is changing for the better.