Cuba’s American Hostage
Cuba’s American hostageOUR OPINION: Alan Gross should not be swapped for Cuban spies
Alan Gross began his fifth year as a prisoner of Cuba’s unjust “justice” system last week, a symbol of the continuing estrangement between that island nation and the United States, and, more important, the fundamentally unchanged nature of the governing regime.
Mr. Gross, for anyone who needs reminding, is a 64-year-old husband and father who was surprisingly detained in December of 2009 by Cuban authorities. He was summarily tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for the “crime” of delivering a portable computer and a cellphone to Cuba’s small and isolated Jewish community, an action not normally considered a crime except by a handful of repressive regimes around the world, including, of course, Cuba.
Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost more than 100 pounds. He suffers from degenerative arthritis and his health continues to deteriorate. Even worse is the emotional toll that four years of incarceration and separation have taken on him and his family. For these reasons — and because his severe punishment is in no way commensurate with his alleged transgression — he should be released immediately and unconditionally.
On the anniversary of his arrest, Mr. Gross’ wife, Judy, made a dramatic plea for President Obama to “do whatever it takes to bring Alan home.” The Obama administration, for its part, has said, without releasing details, that it is holding behind-the-scenes talks with the Cubans on the topic, even though officials have repeatedly called for his release without the need for negotiations.
Unfortunately, the Cuban government has other plans. Where the rest of the world sees a victim of an arbitrary and unfair government, Cuba’s leaders see a human pawn that can be used to advance their own selfish political objectives.
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