Transport in Cuba
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May 2012
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Free Alan Gross

Free Alan Gross

Monday, May 14, 2012

After spending two years and five months in Cuban detention on dubious

charges of subversion, American Alan Gross recently told CNN that he

feels like a "hostage." The U.S. State Department agrees.

Gross, 63, was arrested in 2009, while he was working as a subcontractor

for the U.S. Agency for International Development on a project designed

to link Cuba's Jewish community to the Internet. For the crime of

transporting laptops and other telecommunications equipment into Havana,

a Cuban court found Gross guilty of "acts against the independence or

territorial integrity" and sentenced him to 15 years.

While the Castro government asserts that conditions are not poor, Gross

has lost 100 pounds while being held in a military hospital. His

90-year-old mother suffers from lung cancer and cannot travel. Gross has

pleaded for Havana at least to allow him to see his mother one last

time. He even has offered to return to Cuba afterward.

The Cuban government sent CNN's Wolf Blitzer a letter offering to hold a

dialogue to find a humanitarian solution "on a reciprocal basis." The

State Department takes the gesture as yet another attempt by the regime

to swap its release of Gross in exchange for Washington's release of

five Cuban intelligence agents found guilty of trying to infiltrate U.S.

military institutions in 2001.

On the plus side, the Castro regime deserves credit for allowing Gross

to use his weekly phone call to contact CNN and make his case. On the

down side, the news coverage serves to remind the world of the

repressive policies of President Raul Castro.

Every country has a right to uphold on its sovereignty. Havana certainly

had a right to sanction Gross for misusing a tourist visa to transport

laptops and other devices. Even still, Cuba's use of Gross as a pawn –

for the crime of trying to put Cubans onto the Internet – shows how

truly vulnerable Castro's hold on Cuba must be.

This article appeared on page A – 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle Tags: arrested, gross, hospital, internet, president, Raul Castro, tourist, transport, travel

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