Let him go now!
‘Let him go now!’
12/02/2014 7:34 PM 12/02/2014 11:11 PM
Five years after the detention and subsequent imprisonment of U.S.
citizen Alan Gross in Cuba, pleas for his release continue to fall on
deaf ears in Havana. His prolonged detention confirms the capricious and
mean-spirited nature of the Castro regime.
Mr. Gross was on a mission from USAID to deliver computer and Internet
equipment to the island’s small Jewish community when he was detained on
Dec. 3, 2009. After the usual phony trial more than a year later, he was
sentenced to 15 years in prison, an extraordinary and utterly
unjustified sentence in view of the alleged violation.
Ever since his trial and sentencing, periodic suggestions have been made
that he should be traded for three Cuban spies who were members of the
so-called Wasp network that operated in South Florida, as if a USAID
contract worker is comparable to a cadre of trained espionage operatives.
The latest of these calls came in one of a series of recent editorials
in The New York Times. The Times, of course, is entitled to its opinion,
but it’s worth noting that when an editorial writer from the newspaper
met recently with prominent dissidents in Havana, they refuted the
newspaper’s arguments, particularly the notion that it is up to the
United States to take the initiative when, in reality, the Cuban
government holds the keys to Mr. Gross’ cell door.
The meeting was later detailed in a report by independent journalist
Yoani Sánchez, who was part of the group, in her online newspaper, 14ymedio.
“I have an idea,” said dissident Miriam Celaya. “The clearest and
strongest action that the Cuban government could take is to liberate
public opinion, to liberate the circulation of ideas. To let Cuban
citizens speak out.”
Ms. Sánchez, perhaps the most prominent dissident voice known outside
Cuba, labeled some of the New York newspaper’s editorial stands
regrettable because they did not take into account the reality of life
in Cuba. Ms. Celaya ridiculed an editorial that blamed the U.S. embargo
for Cuba’s brain drain, saying it failed to note that Cuban doctors sent
abroad on missions by Havana were virtual “slaves” of the government.
Impartial observers who have no stake in the long-standing dispute
between Cuba and the United States have weighed in on the Gross case
with calls for his release. The clearest call came in January 2013, when
the U.N. Human Rights Council’s imprisonment watchdog said Cuba should
release the imprisoned American.
Among the reasons cited: Cuba’s lack of an independent judiciary, the
imprecise nature of Gross’ alleged crime and the failure to grant him
bail. All of this, the U.N. watchdog report said, rendered the 15-year
sentence “arbitrary.” Predictably, Cuba, which is not a party to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (for obvious
reasons), rejected the U.N. report, as well as a subsequent appeal by
Mr. Gross’ wife based on that report.
We agree that the U.S. government, which sent Mr. Gross to Cuba, has a
moral obligation to try everything within reason to bring him home. But
putting the burden for his release on the United States and ignoring the
Cuban government’s responsibility for his incarceration is wrong.
The absurdity of the proposed exchange is evident even to legislators in
his home state of Maryland, who are sympathetic to his plight and have
worked with his family to seek his release. “I have a message for Mr.
Castro down in Cuba,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., wrote last
month in an email. “Let Alan Gross go! Let him go today, let him go now.”
Source: ‘Let him go now!’ | The Miami Herald –