Former President Jimmy Carter went to Cuba to secure the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. Government subcontractor, and failed. Gross has been falsely accused, tried, and convicted of espionage by regime. Yet at the core of this matter is that Carter’s trip illustrates the lengths the left will go to protect one of its own, even if at the expense of an American citizen.
I do not know Mr. Gross but from what I could tell from news reports, he seems like a well-meaning fellow who wanted to support Cuba’s small Jewish community. He traveled to Cuba several times as a subcontractor for a Bethesda, Maryland global development firm called Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). It seems that Mr. Gross took one trip too many and, as a result, has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Mr. Gross raised the ire of regime officials who, as in any police state, do not look kindly to U.S. Government contractors repeatedly visiting to distribute electronic equipment such as cell phones, computers, or calling cards. Not only is it illegal under Cuban law, but, more to the point, is viewed as a threat to the regime. Information is subversion and, to the Castros, it is an extension of Bush foreign policy and they want nothing of it.
Frankly, DAI should have known better than to allow Mr. Gross to make so many trips in such a short span of time. The regime is always on the look out for any and all opportunities to extort U.S. officials to weaken U.S. sanctions. They saw a political goldmine in the Gross case and locked him up. And, while our State Department will never admit this, the Cuban government began asking for political concessions of all kinds as soon as they had Gross under their control.
Somehow the Washington, DC law firm that was contracted by the Castro regime in the Elian Gonzalez case ended up defending Mr. Gross. Maybe the family thought the contacts with the regime could work in their favor. Frankly, there is not much they could have done for him and they should have gone with other counsel that would have strenuously objected to the proceedings and raised holy hell in the court of public opinion. This was not about the law, but politics.There was no due process. There never will be in Castro’s Cuba. Just ask Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. And to pretend that there was, in my book, is an even greater miscarriage of justice.
As usual, the Cuban regime did not buckle. It called our bluff and it won. It knew that the Obama Administration would not have the stomach to confront it on this issue because there are folks on Obama’s team who dislike U.S. policy but know there is nothing they can do about it. Gross’s lawyers worked the back channels at State, the NSC, and some pockets in the Congress. But, regrettably, that process only resulted in Mr. Gross going from USAID subcontractor to international political pawn. The left sided the Castro regime, not Mr. Gross.
While Carter and his spokemen deny it, Carter went to Cuba to negotiate a deal for Gross’s release and it appears as if he has failed. Carter’s trip was a last ditch effort to salvage a poorly executed strategy to secure Gross’s release. Mr. Gross means nothing to the Obama Administration or the Carter team. Their long-term mission is to continue rapprochement with the regime, the Gross case became an inconvenience and they were not going to let it interfere with their agenda.
With one or two exceptions, most of the Obama Latin America policy team wants nothing more than to normalize relations with Cuba. They do not support current U.S.-Cuba policy, laws, and regulations. The Carter trip was designed to advance that agenda and mollify Cuba, “we’re here for you.” Regrettably, Obama’s Cuba policy sends the wrong message to tyrants in the Americas and beyond. And, if you are an American citizen or U.S. Government contractor with a Cuba program, you’re now on notice: do not expect Uncle Sam to come to your rescue.
For the Gross family, keep up the fight and do not allow yourselves to be lulled into any arrangement that involves accommodating with the Castro regime. They treat their own people like chattel, an American will fare only slightly better. Do not fight on their turf. You will only be disappointed.