Friday, September 23, 2011
Cubans completely ignore a rainy Alan Gross vigil in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week I posted about today's dual-location prayer vigil for U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who is serving a 15 year prison sentence in Havana for state security crimes. The vigil was simultaneously conducted at the Cuban Interests Sections in Washington and at Cuba´s U.N. Mission in New York. I hope to speak with one of the vigil's primary organizers soon to see what the next plan of action may be, but in the meantime today's Washington Post has a brief article with the basics.
From the Post's photos, it looks looks like a few dozen people -- no more -- showed up to stand in the rain on a soggy day at the Cuban facility in D.C. Of course, it's an utterly hopeless endeavor. I feel for the Gross family, but if neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Richardson could get the job done, a prayer vigil won't either. Interestingly, Alan's wife Judy told reporters that she'd had no contact with Richardson since he returned from the island earlier this month.
The Post also said that "a telephone number for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington rang unanswered Friday, and an e-mail message was not returned." That pretty much sums up how impressed the Cubans were with today's vigil.
Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who represents Alan Gross' district, spoke at the vigil. According to the Post Van Hollen said that relations between the U.S. and Cuba would not improve until Gross is released. "The message they're sending to the world is that they fear freedom and they won't do the humanitarian thing."
The United States has been delivering up that kind of pep talk to Cuba for more than 50 years -- since John F. Kennedy was president. They were idle words then and they remain so today, half a century later. U.S. policy towards Cuba, from the very unjust Blockade to the ridiculous travel restrictions which prohibit Americans from hopping on a plane to spend the weekend in Havana, have been and still are politically regressive and highly counterproductive. We're punishing the Cuban people because we don't like two worn out old men wearing green army fatigues. It´s time to change the tune drastically and to do something humanitarian ourselves: lift the failed Cuban Blockade and release the Miami Five. If we don't, I fear that Alan Gross may be in for a very long stay in Havana. And there is absolutely nothing in the world the United States of America can do about it.
at 11:52 PM