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!
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • 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.