Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    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 –