Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Insulza – U.S. should engage with Cuba to seek Gross’ freedom

    Posted on Monday, 05.12.14

    Insulza: U.S. should engage with Cuba to seek Gross’ freedom

    What is it going to take to free Alan Gross, the U.S. subcontractor
    imprisoned in Cuba?

    A: It should take some direct contact between the American government
    and the Cuban government. I don’t think it will happen soon unless there
    are some changes to be made. I always thought that agreement should be
    reached on the Miami Five, some have since been released. I think Mr.
    Gross’s situation is a humanitarian situation that must be dealt with.
    If it’s possible to open some kind of negotiation, it would not only be
    good for the people involved it would make a better climate in U.S.-Cuba
    relations, which are so important.

    Does the OAS have any leverage with Cuba given that it no longer has any
    direct contact with the organization?

    Cuba doesn’t participate in the organization. They have never denounced
    the (OAS) charter so they’re still bound by the Commission on Human
    Rights. But that’s basically symbolic. There’s this famous density of
    international relations. When you have only one or two subjects that you
    deal with, you have only a little bit of clout. You have a lot of clout
    among countries when you have a lot of relations. And that’s the case
    with Cuba.

    But the OAS has relationships with many countries that have clout with
    Cuba. Can you use that?

    None of them is really willing to act. I think in the case of Mr. Gross,
    some countries in the region could be helpful because of the importance
    that has been given to Mr. Gross by the media and by the United States
    itself. I’m sure if those actions are carried out, we won’t know much
    about them. All the Latin Americans are very careful about their
    relations with the Cuban government and they want to keep them in a
    normal way so they might not be willing to act to press them directly or

    How concerned were you about Mr. Gross’ hunger strike?

    I think it’s a bad thing. We all know that his health has not been very
    good. At his age, this kind of strike is damaging for his health. I hope
    that will move some people to do some kind of action or negotiation to
    try to get him out of there.

    And do you think the Latin American countries that have that influence
    with Cuba should do so to get him released?

    I don’t know if any of them is already doing that. I don’t want to
    assume that they’re doing nothing. I would rather assume that they’ve
    been asked to do something and they’re doing it.

    They were not insulting. They were very nice and the signs were very
    much about things that we share: Freedom in Venezuela, etc. I think that
    we’re at a very crucial moment. The dialogue is getting going; it’s
    really warming up and something is going to happen.

    The opposition has put conditions on showing up for a dialogue. Does the
    OAS have any influence to encourage them to participate? [Note: The
    opposition decided after the interview to participate in talks.]

    Some of the people protesting against you here and elsewhere say the OAS
    cannot be trusted and that you’re not doing enough to end this crisis.
    Do you agree?

    Well, I know. We get criticized for not doing enough but we can’t do
    everything. This is an organization of states. And there is no way the
    Secretary General can go against the will of the member countries. That
    will be completely senseless. It would be like the United Nations
    issuing its own policy without the agreement of the Security Council.
    That I cannot do. And I shouldn’t do, by the way. This is an
    organization of soverign states that need to take that decision.

    Are you hopeful that this crisis will be resolved soon?

    I think that we have moved forward. Let’s look at were we were. Six
    months ago, nobody would have recognized the Venezuelan opposition.
    [Opposition leader Henrique] Caprilles went around the region and he
    wasn’t received by some heads of Latin American governments. Now, the
    opposition is visible and legitimate. I think that they have problems.
    But to continue processing, I think that they have to engage. They
    cannot isolate themselves from the processes that the international
    community is trying to carry out.

    Latin America’s economy seems to have largely withstood the economic
    downturn. What do you see happening in Latin America in the next few years?

    We’re coming out of a decade that was tremendous for Latin America. The
    growth was incredible, especially for countries in the South and
    therefore the region is in a much, much better economic shape today than
    it was before. This was basically, as has been said so many times,
    export-led. A lot of capital came to the region because of the situation
    in the United States. We’ll probably have less capital coming because of
    the policies in the Federal Reseve. So we’ll have to do with less. But
    that doesn’t mean that Latin America is not going to grow. Commodities
    will continue to be exported because capital will continue coming but at
    the same speed as before.

    The Dominican Republic is dealing with a divisive ruling of its
    Constitutional Court regarding whether the children of Haitian migrants
    could become citizens. How can the OAS help to resolve this issue?

    We have been willing but we haven’t been called yet to try to find a
    solution. Probably because the stronger statements on the matter have
    come from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the
    Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which are OAS tools. They have
    condemned very clearly what has happened in the Dominican Republic. That
    makes me as Secretary General very careful about getting into the matter
    in a way that would somehow weaken the position of the Commission on
    Human Rights. The conditions that the OAS is putting on this are very
    strong. We want, at the very least, the situation of the people who were
    born in the Dominican Republic to be recognized not for naturalization
    but just simply readmission. I don’t think anybody can be asked to
    nationalize themselves in a country where he was born. And that’s the
    key issue today.

    Many people have said that the ruling proves that the Dominican Republic
    is inherently a racist county. Are they correct?

    It’s a racial problem, yes, but it’s like saying the Dominican Republic
    is a country populated by Caucasian. Actually, most of them are
    Afro-American or have some Afro-American blood in their veins. I think
    it’s a problem of many years that the problem has not been dealt with
    and so many people have come to the Dominican Republic and many
    Dominicans feel like they’re being neglected by their government because
    it’s been taking care of the other people. There are social reasons for
    this but the solution found is not really acceptable under the standards
    of the international community.

    Source: “Insulza: U.S. should engage with Cuba to seek Gross’ freedom –
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