The saga continues for Alan Gross in Cuba
While American aid worker Alan Gross remains imprisoned in Cuba and held for ransom by the Castro dictatorship, nothing good can really happen. Meanwhile, as Gross' health continues to deteriorate, the Cuban regime is vehemently claiming that he is in fine shape. However, the family's attorney is disputing their claims. You do not have to be a doctor to surmise that based on the before and after photograph above (courtesy of Along the Malecon), it is obvious that Alan Gross' health is being severely and negatively affected by his continued incarceration in a Castro gulag. Naturally, the Cuban dictatorship has an explanation for Gross' anemic and gaunt appearance: they have saved him from obesity with a balanced diet and exercise and he is now at a healthy weight.
Yes, they actually said that.
But Gross' deteriorating health is not the only plot-driver in this drama. His wife Judy, who is suffering unimaginable grief and pain over the injustice being committed against her husband, is struggling between anger and bargaining, two of the five stages of loss and grief. So far, bargaining with the Castro dictatorship has proven futile, as we all unfortunately already knew would be the case. And as is typical in severe cases such as this, Ms. Gross has now turned her anger away from the people who have and continue to hurt her husband, the Castro regime, and directed it towards the United States government and Cuban exiles, placing the blame on them for Alan's predicament. Her anger is undoubtedly and obviously misplaced since it is the Castro dictatorship who arrested her husband and has held him hostage for almost three years, not the U.S. or Cuban exiles. Nonetheless, her anger and misbegotten shift in blame is understandable considering the trauma she, Alan, and their family is experiencing.
I mention this not to discredit or belittle Judy Gross' emotions and feelings, but to say that we, too, have been there. As Cuban exiles and children of Cuban exiles, we have all experienced that same loss at the same or even more extreme level. We have all struggled through the stages of grief and loss and we understand what she is feeling and the heinousness of her experience. In desperate attempts to find a way to quell the pain, our anger has led some of us to blame those who had nothing to do with our situation. Some of us have also tried to bargain our way out to no avail. Three years is a horribly long time to sit and watch a loved one whither away in a dungeon for unjust reasons. So you can only imagine how horrible it must be for Cubans on and off the island to experience the same pain for decades.
As long as Alan Gross remains a hostage of the Castro dictatorship, nothing good can happen.
Respectfully, Mrs. Gross is WrongIn today's New York Times, the wife of Castro's American hostage Alan Gross, has unfortunately misdirected her frustration.
“Alan is a victim of 50 years of failed policy with Cuba,” said Judy Gross.
Respectfully, Mrs. Gross, Alan is not a victim of U.S. policy.
Alan is the victim of a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, which has complete disregard for human rights and international law.
Providing Internet access to the Cuban people, as Alan was doing, is protected under international law.
It is encapsulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Our community understands Mrs. Gross's frustration better anyone else.
We have seen our friends and families beaten, imprisoned and executed for 50 years.
Moreover, we understand what it's like to feel as if the world doesn't care.
Just this week, we have seen foreign news bureaus in Havana report on a new ballet for obese people and a fancy dog show, rather than on the spike in repression against peaceful democracy activists.
Mrs. Gross then sadly proceeds to state that she believes her husband is “a pawn of these very radical right-wing Cuba haters, for lack of a better word, who don’t want to see any changes happen, even to get Alan home.”
We undoubtedly stand in solidarity with Mrs. Gross in wanting to see her husband released.
Moreover, we want to see changes happen more than anyone else.
We long for fundamental change in Cuba, where human rights are respected and people are free to choose their own destiny -- a Cuba, where Alan Gross and others like him will not be taken hostage for helping Cubans connect to the Internet.
That is exactly what U.S. policy is conditioned towards.
But that doesn't make us "radical right-wing Cuba haters" anymore than it would make Mrs. Gross one for stridently advocating for her husband's freedom.