Why is the U.S. abandoning its “contractor” Alan Gross?

Iroel Sánchez
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen y George W.Bush

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and George W. Bush. Looking on, former President’s brother Jeb Bush, Florida’s ex-governor.

On January 20, 2011 the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported that the Jewish organization J Street was asking the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, to return thousands of dollars she had gotten for her campaign from Irving Moskowitz, a businessman in South Florida.  Moskowitz is one the legislator’s largest financial contributor, a dispatch by the IPS news agency describes him as one of the chief funders for the most militant settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and J Street is a lobbying entity seeking to counter the influence of the powerful Jewish lobby, associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). But that has not been the only time that the links of Ros-Lehtinen with these sectors have surfaced; the New York Times revealed in December 2009 that there had been a tour of the Cuban-American congresswoman, with free accommodation in Israel “at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem,” and that she had attended a gala feast by the Wailing Wall as part of a week-long conference in which lobbyists and executives paid up to 18 500 dollars.

With such a vocation for the sons of Israel, her influential position, and with some Jewish ancestry—her maternal grandparents were Jews who had settled in Cuba from Turkey—it was to be expected for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to care for the case of U.S. “contractor” Alan Gross, himself a Jew, whose trial in Havana began on March 4. Yet, as soon as the congresswoman learned of a date for the trial, she decided to send a high-sounding message warning the U.S. government against “negotiating with ruthless dictators,” in reference to any agreement with the Cuban authorities involving the release of Gross, which is tantamount to abandoning the defendant, practically condemning him to a death in prison, as Gross is 61 years of age.

Alan Gross came to Cuba as part of a USAID program to provide telecommunications technology to groups funded by that organization. The aim was to subvert the constitutional order in Cuba. Gross worked for DAI, a company subcontracted by the USAID, and he was, in the words of U.S. scholar Saul Landau, “caught red-handed by Cuba.” But ever since Gross was arrested, there have been attempts to put a veil of darkness over the true motives of his actions, claiming that he intended to distribute computers and electronic equipment to members of the Jewish community in Cuba, something which congregation members themselves have denied, including its president, Adela Dworin.

Given what happened to Gross, the U.S. government initially froze the funds allocated to this program, but under pressure from Miami they were again put into gear and have been used for the same purposes originally envisaged for them. And while the U.S. has cut down on other programs meant for abroad, it has kept intact the $20 million annually for subversion against Cuba, even earmarking a similar amount in its requested 2012 federal budget, in addition to other moneys contained in the more than 25 million recently announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support the use of Internet by “technologists and activists” in countries not liked by Washington.

The U.S. hinders Cubans’ access to the Internet, yet it goes over those restrictions to provide access to people serving their objectives on the island, trying to create a high-tech cyber-elite that could act as their “mouthpiece” from within Cuba and fabricating the content that the U.S. media machinery would then amplify. It would appear that in such strategy, the Obama administration—more interested in not upsetting the Miami ultra-rightwing political mafia that in addressing the situation involving a U.S. citizen—considers Alan Gross as “collateral damage.” Judging by this behavior, it is not to be ruled out that, far from putting an end to this dangerous practice, in its obedience of the dictates of Ileana Ross-Lehtinen, the U.S. government would waste even more American taxpayers’ money, putting more people like Alan Gross in danger’s path to then ignore their destiny, which would be no less manifest than some thought it would in a country dooming them to a sure failure.

Original in spanish: ¿Por qué abandona EE.UU. a su “contratista” Alan Gross?



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