Harder Line on Cuba in Alan Gross Push

After Election, Is Havana Confrontation Best Policy?

Havana Headache: President Obama’s reelection could open the way to talks to free Alan Gross. Are his supporters missing the boat by painting Cuba into a corner, instead of pinning hopes on better U.S. ties with the island nation.
courtesy of gross family
Havana Headache: President Obama’s reelection could open the way to talks to free Alan Gross. Are his supporters missing the boat by painting Cuba into a corner, instead of pinning hopes on better U.S. ties with the island nation.

By Paul Berger

Published November 19, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 5)

He took on Gross’s case through Perseus Strategies, a for-profit company he launched last year that specializes in legal and public relations services for humanitarian campaigns.

Genser’s public campaign has been almost totally focused on pressuring Cuba. His report to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, claims that the continuing Cuban denial of adequate medical care to Gross, who recently developed a mass on his shoulder that Gross’s family say may be cancerous, could “constitute torture.”

In the weeks to come, Genser promises that further public and political pressure will be brought to bear on Cuba. He said his aim is twofold: to send a message to Cuba that the continued detention of Gross will damage Cuba’s reputation and to emphasize that the best way for Cuba to improve relations with the U.S. is to release Gross. But Armstrong, a former senior staff member to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, says such tactics are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive.

Rather than insisting that Gross was wrongly imprisoned, experts say Gross’s backers would do better to take a less confrontational approach towards Cuba and push the White House harder to negotiate his release.

Cuba has hinted that it would be willing to negotiate Gross’s release in return for the freedom of a handful of Cuban agents known as the Cuban Five who were arrested in the U.S. almost 15 years ago. But the State Department has insisted that Gross was doing nothing wrong in Cuba and that the freedom of the Five is not negotiable.

Gross traveled to Cuba five times before he was arrested on December 3, 2009, while working there secretly as a subcontractor for USAID. Gross claimed to have been working on a project to improve Internet access for the island’s tiny Jewish community. However, along with the cell phones and other computer equipment Gross brought into the country were sophisticated, high-tech computer equipment more commonly used by the Defense Department.

In his reports to DAI and USAID after each trip, Gross warned of the dangers of detection. Following his fourth trip to the island, according to the lawsuit, he warned that Cuban customs officials “attempted to seize some of his team’s equipment when they arrived at the airport in Havana.” His fifth trip, the lawsuit said, came after DAI and USAID agreed to extend the term and expand the scope of their project in Cuba.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.