If Alan Gross dies in a Cuban prison, set the clock back 60 years

The 11 Million people of Cuba don’t realize it but the potential death of imprisoned USAid contractor Alan Gross in a Cuban military hospital could devastate their lives. The Congressional Cuban Cartel led by Ileana Ros Lehtinen would celebrate his death and use it as an excuse to take out their wrath on the Cuban people for not having risen up and overthrown Fidel Castro.

This lack of civil disobedience in Cuba has long angered Ros Lehtinen and the Diaz Balart clan whose fathers were alleged to be notorious characters in the Batista Regime. Their fathers took to the grave the hopes of returning to control on the island. Now even the old guard of criminals has passed away except for Luis Posada Carilles who is responsible for the murder of 79 innocent civilians. He has been shielded from extradition to face prosecution by Ros Lehtinen. The ‘heir apparent’ to his father’s legacy is current ‘Cuban president-in-waiting’ Lincoln Diaz Balart. Read his manifesto at larosablanca.org and see delusions of grandeur first hand.

There exists a precedent for the US Congress to manipulate a situation to harm the Cuban people under the guise of moral indignation, On February 24, 1996 Cuban military aircraft shot down two planes flown by the group Brothers to the Rescue. Originally formed to look for refugees in rickety boats the group had not spotted anyone for six months. They then began flying into Cuban airspace to annoy Cuban officials and were warned repeatedly by Cuban and US authorities. It culminated in early 1996 with them repeatedly dropping leaflets over Cuba, including one drop on 500,000 leaflets over Havana.

The next time they entered Cuban airspace they were warned by Cuban air traffic controllers, but the group’s leader Jose Basulto figuratively gave the middle finger to the Cuban government. So the Cuban government did exactly what the US government would do if private aircraft flown by our enemies dropped half a million leaflets over New York City: they shot down two of the three planes. Of course the leader Basulto led his men into Cuban airspace and then bolted back toward the US like a coward, escaping with his life.

The ensuing claptrap and mayhem in Miami and Washington was extensive. The two biggest Castro haters (at the time) in Congress, Senator Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton resurrected their Helms-Burton Act which had been tabled from the previous year by Democratic filibusters. With all the noise about how brave these fallen ‘patriots’ were to be flying rescue missions, the bill passed and codified what had up until that point had been presidential executive actions regarding the Embargo against Cuba.

I recap this to lay the foundation for my main point in this essay and that is if Alan Gross were to pass away in Cuban custody, Ileana Ros and her cohorts the Diaz Balarts, Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, and even Cuban-come-lately Ted Cruz would go into overdrive. Like with the Brothers to the Rescue, they would portray Alan Gross as a ‘saint’ who was merely trying to bring better internet connections to some 300 Cuban Jews while burying the fact that he was part of a multi-million dollar program operated by USAid to undermine the Cuban government.

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            Imagine the Rubio-Ros Lehtinen Act. Passed by ill-informed Senators and Members of Congress, the law would perpetuate the hatred for the Cuban people that the Ros and Dias Balart clans have long felt. Every last aspect of Cuban-American relations under control of the president could be stripped away. Remittances – especially to non-family members – would likely be scaled way back if not done away with altogether; religious, academic, and People-to-People programs would be wiped out.

Exports of poultry, beef, pork, powdered milk, medicine, and other staples would probably be terminated – all of the things that annoy Ileana Ros. This would decimate the Cuban population, especially children. All of this would lead to a renewal of strained relations between the US and Cuba which would likely lead to a cessation of cooperation on maritime, drug trafficking, and other issues. President Obama has 2 months to act before a GOP Congress meddles in this matter and bring Alan Gross home in exchange for the three remaining Cuban Five. If Israel can over 60+ years swap prisoners with their sworn enemies at a ratio of 64:1, the US can certainly execute a 3:1 trade with our peaceful neighbor.

In February, 2008 a full 22 months before Alan Gross was arrested Raul Castro told the Vatican Secretary of State that he would eventually retrieve the Cuban Five by trading them for American prisoners held by Cuba. President Obama has lost every PR battle with the GOP; this is one he can win, and should win soon, for Alana Gross and his Family and for the Cuban people.

Paul LeBon   plcuba54@gmail.com

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