The following appeared as comments to an excellent post by Phil Peters at the Cuban Triangle http://cubantriangle.blogspot.com/2011/12/alan-gross-on-his-own.html
I suspect, although the Cubans themselves are a little confused about what they are accusing Alan Gross of, that Alan Gross was arrested because he was attempting to set up a mesh network in Cuba, of the type that the State Department has been developing to use in hostile totalitarian countries that do not allow their population to have permanent or temporary internet access and that, although the efforts to develop such a network in Cuba while Alan Gross is arrested, they will be resumed with more precaution once he is released.
So I believe that this is one additional reason for the Cuban government to refuse to release Alan Gross.
Not only is he their sole negotiation chip for the release of their five cuban spies imprisoned in the US, but while he is imprisoned, the Cuban government is reasonably certain that the US government will not continue to make efforts to provide clandestine internet access to a part of its population.
This is a message to discuss a small part of the problem people may not normally be aware of.
In a series of future ones, if you allow me, I'll try to comment by parts the whole Alan Gross five Cuban spies enchilada.
DECEMBER 4, 2011 1:23 AM
The official Cuban government version of events is that:
1- During the nineties the right wing Cubans in the United States were financing a series of terrorist incidents in Havana hotels to scare off foreign tourists and that the US government was not doing anything about it.
2- The Cuban government sent over to the US a series of agents to infiltrate these right wing groups discover their plans and communicate them to the Cuban government so that the terrorist activities in the island could be neutralized.
3- After obtaining sufficient evidence of these activities from his agents, Fidel Castro decided that the Cuban government should contact the FBI and provide them with this information to give the FBI the necessary leads to investigate these right wing groups, verify their criminal activities, prosecute them and put an end to them.
4- Instead of doing this the FBI handed over the information that had been provided by the Cuban government to the right wing Cuban groups in the United States that Castro accused of promoting terrorism.
5- Then, with the active aid of these Cuban right wing groups, the FBI reversed engineered the information to trace back the Cuban government informants infiltrated within these groups.
6- Once located, these Cuban government agents were placed under observation, proof of their activities was gathered and once a sufficient amount was available they were finally arrested and prosecuted.
7- All those arrested accepted they were Cuban agents but stated that they were not in the US to spy on the US government or military but that their sole purpose was to report on the right wing groups financing and promoting terrorist activities inside the island.
8- The US government prosecution on the other hand attempted to prove that they were guilty of more heinous crimes such as spying on the US government and being involved in the plot that resulted in the downing of two planes and the death of four Cuban American Castro opponents on 2/24/1996.
Several very important conclusions that have a bearing on the present imbroglio can be derived from all the ground we have covered so far.
From the Cuban government perspective, the FBI acted in bad faith when it used the evidence about a group promoting terrorist activity that the Cuban government had supplied it to prosecute the informants instead of the perpetrators of a terrorist activity.
What was even more aggravating was that this bad faith action made Fidel Castro look like a snitch to his own subordinates and thus undermined their loyalty to him.
This is a very serious charge on a regime that is held together in by the bonds of loyalty between the charismatic supreme leader and his subordinates.
Fidel Castro and his brother must do their utmost to recover these convicted spies in order to try to regain the full confidence of their subordinates that is needed to ensure their own future political survival in a very hostile world.
This is the reason that they attach so much importance to recovering them.
While they remain in prison, their subordinates have a reason to distrust them and this weakens the monolithic coherence of the Cuban totalitarian regime!
When that trust begins to disappear, such totalitarian regime, based on personal loyalty to a charismatic leader, also starts to crumble.
It is crucial for the regime's survival to regain it as rapidly as possible.
In the next installment I shall talk about the trial and conviction of the Cuban five.
DECEMBER 4, 2011 10:50 AM
The official Cuban government line is that the five Cuban agents who were tried on spying charges received excessive sentences for two reasons:
1- The prosecutor pressured other codefendants who turned state evidence into accusing them of crimes they did not commit in order to receive a reduction of their sentence.
2- The Miami venue of the trial exposed the jury to a lot of unfavorable community pressure and made a fair trial impossible.
The first situation might have occurred but there is little proof that it could have had a significant weight in the outcome of the trial.
There is evidence in the court records to indicate that the prosecutor was aware of the weakness of some of the more serious accusations for which he thought there was insufficient evidence and tried to withdraw them but was restricted from doing so by the judge.
So the reason for the severe sentences does not lie in the conduct of the prosecutor but with that of the jury which throughout a very long trial was under the constant influence of a very hostile community opinion.
Indeed in the court records there are jury complaints presented to the judge that their photographs were being taken as they left the court and that their license plate numbers were also being recorded and being published in the communities spanish newspapers.
Moreover, these were constantly making hostile comments against the accused and drumming up community public opinion against them all along the prolongued trial.
When the testimony was concluded, after a very short deliberation, the jury convicted the defendants on all counts including those that the District Attorney had attempted to withdraw because he thought he had insufficient proof.
DECEMBER 5, 2011 12:31 PM
With respect to Gross, whatever we might think about the fact that Cuban law restricts people's right to have access to the internet and to be informed, it is a fact that the introduction and distribution of the software and hardware he brought to Cuba had been prohibited and that he broke this law.
Therefore, although this goes against the right of the Cuban population to be informed, the Cuban government had every legal right to convict him for this "crime".
Now the Cuban government is evidently using him as a negotiating chip and is not going to let him go until they get their five agents back.
However, this does not mean that they are proposing a one to five swap.
Obviously they are willing to negotiate and are willing to throw in other political prisoners to close the deal.
The Obama administration, on the other hand, seems to be in a lose lose situation in an election year.
If it does not get Alan Gross back it will probably loose part of the Jewish vote and part of the vote of the rest of the electorate because it will be accused by its Republican opponents of being weak and allowing itself to be pushed around by a third world dictatorship.
On the other hand, if it swaps the five Cuban agents for Gross, it will keep the Jewish vote but loose part of the Cuban vote and part of the vote of the general population because its opponents will accuse it of giving in to blackmail from a weak third world country dictatorship.
Since the Jewish vote is more important to the Obama administration than the Cuban vote, which is predominantly Republican anyway, the Democratic administration will probably want to strike a deal with the Cuban government that will allow Gross and the five Cuban agents to return to their countries before next year's November election.
However, it can not afford to make a one for five deal because this would give credence to the blackmail accusation and cost it votes among the non Jewish and non Cuban electorate.
Thus it is forced to attempt to get some other goodies to even the basic one for five deal deal to give less weight to the blackmail accusation and allow it to save face with the voters.
What those other goodies will be is what is probably being negotiated under the table at present by both governments at present.
The Cubans are probably willing to throw in two Cuban Americans accused of an armed invasion of the island, several Cuban convicted CIA agents, other Cuban political prisoners and even two Salvadoreans convicted of participating or planning terrorist activities that took place in Cuba.
The problem is many of these other possible assets, given their rap sheet, might not be palatable to the US government.
However, something will probably be finally worked out before the November 2012 Presidential Elections.
The timing of the swap will probably depend on the convenience of the Obama administration.
The Cuban government is probably ready to carry out the swap at anytime since it will strengthen its public support and will open the door to new negotiations that could ease the effects of the US embargo.
The deal will probably take place much earlier and further away from November of 2012 if the Obama political advisors expect the net effect on voters to be unfavorable for the democrats and closer to the date of the elections otherwise to allow the results to be less harmful in the first case or more beneficial in the second for the Obama administration.