Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed

    Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed
    YOANI SÁNCHEZ, La Habana | Diciembre 17, 2014

    With the pessimism that has now become chronic in our society, many
    Cubans thought that Alan Gross would only leave Cuba, “in a box,” in an
    image allusive of a fatal outcome. The stubbornness shown by the Cuban
    government in its relations with the United States didn’t presage a
    short-term solution for the contractor. This Wednesday, however, he has
    been exchanged for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States,
    bringing to a close a long and complicated political chapter for both
    parties.

    Gross was only useful alive and his health was rapidly deteriorating.
    And Raul Castro knew this very well. Hence, in recent months he raised
    the decibels around the proposed exchange for the agent Antonio Guerrero
    and the officials Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández, all serving long
    sentences in the prisons of our neighbor to the north. To the extent
    that the 65-year-old contractor grew thin and lost his vision, official
    campaigns grew increasingly insistent about the exchange. When Gross
    threatened to kill himself, the alarms if the island’s government went
    off and the negotiating schedule accelerated.

    Barack Obama, for his part, made clear that any change in policy toward
    Havana would come up against the insurmountable obstacle of an American
    imprisoned for “threats against the security of the State.” Even the New
    York Times had suggested an exchange in one of its editorials on Cuba,
    and the publication of that text in such a prestigious newspaper was
    read as a preview of what would happen. As in every political game, we
    see only one part, while in the intricacies of power the threads of the
    agreement made public just today were being woven.

    For those of us who know the mechanism of pressure used by the Plaza of
    the Revolution toward its opponents, the capture of Gross itself was a
    move aimed at recovering the Interior Ministry’s agents. The contractor
    wasn’t arrested for what he did, but rather for what they could do with
    him. It was a simple hook and he was aware of this from the beginning.
    His crime was not in having brought satellite equipment to connect the
    Cuban Jewish community to the Internet, but rather in carrying in his
    pocket a passport that immediately converted him into a medium of
    exchange on the board of tense bilateral relations between Washington
    and Havana.

    If we review the five years of captivity endured by Gross, we see a
    well-designed information script that the Cuban government used to put
    pressure on the Obama administration. Each image that came to light
    publicly, each visitor allowed to see him, was authorized with the sole
    condition of reinforcing the exchange proposal. In this way, the Castro
    regime has managed to get its way. It has managed to exchange a peaceful
    man, embarked on the humanitarian adventure of providing connectivity to
    a group of Cubans, for intelligence agents that caused significant
    damage and sorrow with their actions.

    In the game of politics, totalitarian regimes manage to win over
    democracies because the former control the public opinion inside their
    countries, determine all legal results to suit their purposes, and can
    continue to waste their nation’s resources trying to free the moles they
    sent to their adversary’s camp. Democracies, however, end up conceding
    because they must answer to their own people, they must live with an
    incisive press that criticizes them for making or not making certain
    decisions, and because they are forced to do everything possible bring
    their dead and alive back home.

    The Castro regime has won, although the positive result is that Alan
    Gross has emerged alive from a prison that promised to turn into his
    grave. Now, we can expect long weeks of cheering and slogans in which
    the Cuban government will proclaim itself a victor in its latest battle.
    But, there is no space in the national pantheon for so many
    still-breathing heroes, and little by little, the recently returned
    agents will lose importance and visibility. The myth created for them
    from a distance will begin to fade.

    With the main obstacle for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations
    eliminated, the only unknown is the next step. Is the Cuban government
    planning another move to return to a position of force vis-a-vis the US
    government? Or are all the cards on the table this time, before the
    weary eyes of a population that anticipates that the Castro regime will
    also win the next move.

    Translated by Mary Jo Porter and Ernesto Suarez

    Source: Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed –
    http://www.14ymedio.com/englishversion/Alan-Gross-ended-being-swallowed_0_1690030996.html