The Conspiracy

Why Castro Should Free Alan Gross

Alan Gross has lost over 100 pounds since his incarceration in Cuba 4 years ago.

Alan Gross, a 64 year old Jewish contractor for the U.S. government pro-democracy program, USAID, has been held in Cuba since 2009 when he was arrested for bringing satellite phones with capability of connecting to the Internet to Cuba’s Jewish community as part of his USAID responsibilities.

Cuba accused and convicted him of “Acts against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State.”  Cuba’s national news agency, ACN, described Gross’s crime as participation“ in a subversive project of the US government to try to destroy the Revolution, by way of the use of info-communication systems out of the control of the authorities, in order to promote destabilizing plans against various social sectors.” Gross was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison in Cuba, where he has suffered severe health problems.

In the past three and a half years, several US congressmen and Senators have traveled to Cuba to try to secure Gross’ release, but have so far been unsuccessful. Wife Judy Gross has filed a 60 million dollar lawsuit against the United States government blaming them for sending Gross to Cuba on an ill-prepared mission, and hoping to pressure the government to proceed with more serious negotiations. In the absence of more serious discussions between the U.S. and Cuban governments, I’ve taken the liberty of addressing Cuban President Raul Castro with some talking points of my own.

1. Last year, Rene Gonzalez, one of the “Cuban Five” prisoners convicted in Florida of spying against the United States, and whom Cuban politicians have often hinted they want released in exchange for Gross, was granted 2 week leave to visit his brother sick with cancer. Castro should at least grant Gross’ similar request for time to visit his elderly mother who is also sick with cancer.

2. With the number of political prisoners in Cuba doubling since last year, Gross probably wouldn’t be missed too much if he were freed.

3. Both Republican and Democratic– as well as International politicians– such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Jerry Moran (R. senator and advocate for trade with Cuba), and The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have all called for Gross’ release.

4. Cuba may be known for its fancy cigars and sandy beaches, but it kind of gets old after being there in jail for 1189 days (as of the date of the writing of this article).

5. By freeing Gross, Castro could stop the weekly vigils and singing of Jewish songs outside of the Cuban interest section in Washington.

6. According to the website Info Cuba, swimmers at Cuban beaches should be wary of Sea-lice in the water which can lead to painful and itchy skin eruptions. Tourists are also warned that “it is not suggested to drink large amounts of tap water” while in the country. If Castro pays any attention to the 10 plagues visited upon a prior ruler who failed to let Jews leave his country, he might want to be more careful about detaining Gross.

7. Several U.S. politicians have indicated that Gross’ detainment is an obstacle to increased trade between the U.S. and Cuba. It may not be the smartest idea to block off your chances of trading with the world’s largest economy, producer of desired items such as cars made since 1960 or Sponge Bob dolls.

8. So far since his arrest Gross’ has lost over 100 pounds, experiences trouble walking, has developed a mass on his right shoulder, and suffers from degenerative arthritis.

9. We know Cuba’s Jewish community is small, but keeping Gross in jail is just not the right way for Castro to help the community get a minyan.

And the final reason:

10. Alan Gross is a person, not a bargaining chip.

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