The disaster(s) in Japan, of course, dominate the news in the past few days. I found it interesting to note in Slate’s daily aggregated news bulletin that one story estimated over 10,000 dead and the next headline told of a man swept out to sea and rescued from his ordeal as he was found floating on the roof of his house . I guess that is good that news can still report on the many and the one.
Perhaps it was the reports from Japan, tweets from Charlie Sheen, the NFL lockout, March basketball hoopola and whatever Kim Kardashian was doing that obscured the news of the grievous depredation visited on one American Alan Gross by the Cuban justice system. Gross a 60 year old man in poor health who had been languishing in a Cuban prison without being charged for over a year was finally tried and convicted and sentenced to 15 years in a prison. For bringing cell phones and laptops to the tiny Jewish community in Havana, Allan Gross was charged with and found guilty of “working on a “subversive” U.S.-sponsored project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist system,”
Here is one of the State Department’s PJ Crowley’s last official acts before being forced to resign for his remarks on the brutal treatment of the alleged Willileaker Manning:
We deplore this ruling. Alan Gross is a dedicated international development worker who has devoted his life to helping people in more than 50 countries. He was in Cuba to help the Cuban people connect with the rest of the world. As Secretary Clinton said, “Alan Gross has been unjustly jailed for far too long. We are deeply concerned about his and his family’s well being.”
We call on the Government of Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release him. To allow him to return to his family, and bring to an end the long ordeal that began well over a year ago.
I first heard of Gross’s case when I spoke with historian Carlos Eire last December ( a conversation which will published shortly) Eire told how Gross’s family had been impoverished by his legal struggle forcing his wife to move into public housing and, to add another dimension of suffering to his (biblical )plight, Gross’s daughter had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
There is speculation that Cuba would be willing to exchange Gross for the five Cubans currently convicted and jailed for failing to register as foreign agents. By the way, Saul Landau has a different view of Gross’s case alleging his intention to “undermine the Cuban government” and wondering how he acquired the equipment he was distributing since it was highly unlikely Cuban customs would have missed them in his luggage.
In any case, something should be done in the case, expedite an exchange or free Gross for time served.
Contact your Congressman or Senator.