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 5 of 5)

Warmer ties with Cuba may be more politically palatable now than ever. Exit polls show that in 2012, Obama won 48% of the Cuban-American vote, more than any previous Democrat and a vast upswing from the 35% of the Cuban-American vote he won in 2008.

Moreover, as a second-term president, Obama does not have to worry about facing voters again in the key battleground state of Florida, where Cuban voters could turn on him if they perceive he is moving too fast to implement a more conciliatory policy toward the island nation.

Experts say all of these factors make it the perfect time for Gross’s supporters to push Obama to take bold steps to free Gross and improve relations with Cuba, not drive an even bigger wedge between the two countries.

Such criticism comes as no surprise to Genser, who has conducted a listening tour of Cuba experts in recent months. He is familiar with the arguments for a different approach. But he insists that they come from people who have no experience at getting people out of jail in authoritarian states.

“I have worked on 30 cases around the world in the last decade,” Genser said. “Judy… took a private and quiet strategy for much of the last three years, and what did that achieve?”

Besides, Genser said, he is pushing the administration too, albeit in a more low-key way. “We are actively working with a range of people on Capitol Hill and with NGO’s across the U.S…. to make clear to the administration that Alan’s release should be a top priority,” Genser said.

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a lecturer in international studies at the University of Denver, who lived in Cuba until 2001, said that although media coverage has focused on the Cuban side of the Gross campaign, Gross’s supporters have consistently prodded at the U.S. administration and continue to do so.

“I have particular praise for Mrs. Gross’s efforts,” said Lopez-Levy. He added that she has been extremely effective in calling out the U.S. government on its moral responsibility to bring Gross home.

Genser and Judy Gross, meanwhile, emphasized that negotiations take a willingness to talk on both sides. They insist they haven’t seen any sign that Havana is serious.

Obama “has nothing standing in his way to promote more dialogue between the two countries,” said Judy Gross, “but Cuba has a great responsibility here, as well. And if they want to open up or have more bilateral relations, then they also have to sit down and talk to the United States.”

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger


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!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • 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.