Cuba’s American hostage

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | April 9th, 2014

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Cuba's American hostage

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

In June, 2001, Cuban spies Ger­ardo Hernán­dez, Anto­nio Guer­rero, Ramón Labañino, Fer­nando González, and René González (known as the Cuban Five or the Miami Five) were con­victed of 26 fed­eral charges, includ­ing con­spir­acy to com­mit espi­onage, con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der, and act­ing as agents of a for­eign gov­ern­ment. The Com­mu­nist régime acknowl­edges that the men are intel­li­gence agents, but were spy­ing on the Cuban exile com­mu­nity and not the U.S. gov­ern­ment. Over the years, they have filed appeals and have become fix­tures of the Cuban pro­pa­ganda machine. René González was released on Octo­ber 7, 2011, and Fer­nando González was released on Feb­ru­ary 272014.

Hernán­dez, Guer­rero and Labañino are still serv­ing their life sen­tences, and the Cuban gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to push for their release. Some 130 celebri­ties have asked for their release.

In Decem­ber 2009, Alan P. Gross was arrested while in Cuba work­ing as a U.S. gov­ern­ment sub­con­trac­tor for the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) for bring­ing satel­lite phones and com­puter equip­ment to mem­bers of Cuba’s small Jew­ish com­mu­nity. He was held in jail, and, in March, 2011 was con­victed for “acts against the inde­pen­dence or the ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity of the state”.

What does “acts against the inde­pen­dence or the ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity of the state” means? It means that, in Cuba, attempt­ing to pro­vide access to the inter­net is a crime.

Here’s a list of ques­tions explain­ing his descent into hell.

Jimmy Carter met with Gross in 2011, Jesse Jack­son was denied access in 2013.

Last year Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Jour­nal spelled out Gross’ sit­u­a­tion: Cuba Admits Gross Is a Pawn

In other words, Mr. Gross is a nego­ti­at­ing chip. Ms. Vidal would not say what Cuba wants in exchange for let­ting him go, but the release of sev­eral Cuban intel­li­gence offi­cers con­victed in 2001 of spy­ing on the U.S. is likely on the list.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has clearly stated that it will not swap the 3 spies for Gross. The USAID office appar­ently has made no effort towards Gross’ release.

Gross, 63, has lost over 100lbs and has a large lump grow­ing on his back, which under the “excel­lent free health­care” Cubans endure are con­sid­ered “chronic ill­nesses that are typ­i­cal of his age.”

His sit­u­a­tion is des­per­ate: yes­ter­day USA Today reported that Gross has started a hunger strike.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and cul­ture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

In June, 2001, Cuban spies Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González (known as the Cuban Five or the Miami Five) were convicted of 26 federal charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and acting as agents of a foreign government. The Communist regime acknowledges that the men are intelligence agents, but were spying on the Cuban exile community and not the U.S. government. Over the years, they have filed appeals and have become fixtures of the Cuban propaganda machine. René González was released on October 7, 2011, and Fernando González was released on February 27, 2014.

Hernández, Guerrero and Labañino are still serving their life sentences, and the Cuban government continues to push for their release. Some 130 celebrities have asked for their release.

In December 2009, Alan P. Gross was arrested while in Cuba working as a U.S. government subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community. He was held in jail, and, in March, 2011 was convicted for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”.

What does “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” means? It means that, in Cuba, attempting to provide access to the internet is a crime.

Here’s a list of questions explaining his descent into hell.

Jimmy Carter met with Gross in 2011, Jesse Jackson was denied access in 2013.

Last year Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal spelled out Gross’ situation: Cuba Admits Gross Is a Pawn

In other words, Mr. Gross is a negotiating chip. Ms. Vidal would not say what Cuba wants in exchange for letting him go, but the release of several Cuban intelligence officers convicted in 2001 of spying on the U.S. is likely on the list.

The U.S. government has clearly stated that it will not swap the 3 spies for Gross. The USAID office apparently has made no effort towards Gross’ release.

Gross, 63, has lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.”

His situation is desperate: yesterday USA Today reported that Gross has started a hunger strike.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

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