US Says NO to Alan Gross-Cuban 5 Swap

May 11, 2012 | Print Print |

Allan Gross

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES — Alan Gross’s chances of returning to the United States from Cuba before 2024, took another backslide on Friday with the US State Dept. saying it refuses to negotiate with Havana for the release of the Maryland resident and five Cubans imprisoned for over 13 years in the US.

Last weekend Cuban diplomat Jorge Bolaños proposed an exchange of the “Cuban Five,” who are imprisoned in the United States, for the freedom of US citizen Alan Gross.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland responded to the suggestion saying:”We are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade,” reported dpa news.

US State Deptarment spokesperson Victoria Nuland. Photo: wikipedia.org

“There is no equivalence between these situations. On the one hand you have convicted spies in the United States and on the other hand you have an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place,” Nuland stressed.

Cuba Sees the Situation Just the Opposite

To Havana, the Cuban Five are national heroes for having infiltrated Cuban exile terrorist organizations based in Miami that Washington has allowed to operate from its territory with impunity for decades.

The exile groups have carried out hundreds of documented attacks on Cuba and its interests on the island and abroad.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government sees Alan Gross, 61, as an agent of US policy designed to force a regime change on the neighboring island.

Cuban security tracked Gross as he made numerous trips to Cuba while working for a USAID “democracy” program.  He was accused, tried and sentenced to 15 years for distributing illegal communications equipment, considered a serious breach of national security.

Cuban Gov. Seeks Mutually Beneficial Resolution

Josefina Vidal, director for North America at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told the US television network CNN that her country wanted negotiations with Washington on the issue.

“We have made clear to the US government that we are ready to have a negotiation in order to try to find a humanitarian solution to Mr. Gross’s case on reciprocal terms,” Vidal said.

“We’re not advancing a specific formula, it has to be discussed among us. But definitely Cuba has a legitimate humanitarian concern related to the situation of the Cuban Five,” Vidal said.

The two cases and the diplomatic failure to resolve them is the latest conflict in over a half century of hostilities between the US and Cuba.

Washington maintains an embargo on Cuba to try to destroy its economy. It even penalizes third country companies operating in the US for doing business with Cuba.

Ordinary US citizens are also forbidden by their government from visiting Cuba without a special Treasury Dept. license.

 


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    The US decision is unfortunate but necessary. While trading Mr. Gross for the 5 spies does seem like a more than fair exchange for US interests, doing so would have put every US citizen employed by an NGO abroad at risk. Especially those in Cuba. Should totalitarian regimes around the world begin to believe the taking of American hostages has currency value, no one would be safe. I vote for a US Navy Seal hostage extraction team. If we can kill Bin Laden, why can’t we go get Mr. Gross?

    • Justice must prevail

      The Cuban Five are in US prisons for the VAGUE charge of CONSPIRACY to commit espionage. The prosecution itself did not call them spies. In addition, the prosecution admitted that it could not in any way link Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving two life sentences, to the shooting down of the two Cessna planes. Since the Five were tried in Miami right after the Elian Gonzales affair, at a time when hostile feelings against the Cuban government ran high, and when journalists paid by the US government exacerbated these feelings, they were convicted. Such spies! If they had been convicted of not registering as foreign agents, as they should have, they would have by now fully served their sentences.

  • Sherri Hoban

    Because Moses, Mr. Gross is NOT a hostage but rather a prisoner for breaking the laws of Cuba…

  • http://www.GRDPublishing.com Grady Ross Daugherty

    The comment above by “Moses” let’s us know a lot about him and what he might say in the future . . . a lot.

    • Moses

      Grady, spare me the pacifists inuendo. The use of force should be the very last resort in guaranteeing liberty but it should always be an option. The very freedoms (such as universal internet access, speech, travel) that you enjoy while reading this post are secured by some military personnel willing to sacrifice his life for a sometimes noble cause. Those flights you take to Cuba don’t crash into high-rise buildings in Miami because some American kid with a rifle is kicking rocks in Afghanistan. Sure, there have been egregious abuses but you know that (even if you are not willing to admit it publicly) you would not trade passports with a Cuban. We may not agree but let’s be intellectually honest.

  • Fry The Five

    Sherri Hoban, you are correct. May Gerardo spend his 2 life sentences in the luxury jail to which he has become acustomed to. He too was convicted for breaking the law.

  • john sparre

    the cuban 5 are spies but allan gross is not a spy. HUH??? it has neven been denied that the cuban 5 were spies. they were infiltrating groups that harbored guys like luis posada carriles. the cuban 5 were also trying to protect air travelers. allan gross knew what he was doing. i feel sorry for the guy but he was a naif. as has been pointed out in havana times, internet connections and satellite discs are available for a reasonable price.