Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Alan Gross supporters in the U.S. pursue the same old useless "strategy"
This is a worthy cause and Alan Gross certainly deserves his freedom immediately. So do Cuba's Miami Five, who have been incarcerated in the States for over 13 years. Now would be a perfect time to swap them. The problem is, a rabid community of Cuban Castro-haters lives in south Florida -- literally hundreds of thousands of them. I don´t blame them one bit for detesting the Castro brothers, but they´re living in fairy-tale land. They think that one of these days the ancien regime is going to topple, and when it does, they'll just cruise on back to the island and recover homes, businesses and real estate seized by the Cuban government 50 years ago. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. But politicians -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- are terrified of that very vocal Cuban voting block in Florida, which is always a critical state in presidential elections (remember the "hanging 'chads'" horror from a decade ago?) Barack Obama began his administration as a potential breath of fresh air on Cuban matters, but he faded quickly, proving at heart he too is far more pragmatic than principled.
Friday's prayer vigil for Alan Gross will accomplish nothing. Jimmy Carter couldn't get anything done when he traveled to Havana in March. Bill Richardson's visit last week was also a spectacular failure; if anything he irritated the Cubans, and they gave him a bit of a public tongue lashing as his plane departed José Martí airport. The Cuban leadership wants dinner, not more appetizers and drinks. The U.S. offer to remove the island from its State Sponsored Terror list was not enough. Nor was its pledge to release one of the Miami Five, who was just paroled and is now on conditional release. The Cubans want all of their men back in exchange for Alan Gross' freedom. Here's why they should get them: http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2011/08/alan-gross-y-los-cinco-de-miami/.
In the meantime, Alan Gross' supporters would be wiser to hold their vigils on Capitol Hill and at the White House. It is long past time for the United States to bury the 50 year old Cold War hatchet and get on with the important business of normalizing relations with our neighbor 100 miles to the south.
at 4:46 PM