On December 31, 2011, the Washington Post published an editorial demanding the return of Alan Gross, an American government contractor sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison for illegally bringing telecommunications equipment into the country.
In the editorial, the Post claimed Cuba saw Gross as a “potential bargaining chip” to win the release of the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban intelligence agents sentenced to harsh prison terms in the U.S. for “conspiracy to commit” espionage.
“There is no equivalence, moral or otherwise, between the illegal espionage of the Cubans and the conduct of Mr. Gross. The five Cubans were sentenced to long prison terms in 2001 for, among other things, operating as undeclared foreign agents and infiltrating U.S. military installations in South Florida. All are acknowledged intelligence officers, unlike Mr. Gross, a would-be humanitarian who got himself caught up in the U.S.-Cuban dispute over U.S. efforts to promote civil society on the island.”
René González, the only one of the Five to be released from prison—but who is still currently forced to serve his parole in the U.S.—has written a powerful, thoughtful response to the editorial (see below).
He’s encouraging others to read the Post’s editorial and write their own letters to the editor to challenge the inaccuracies in the piece and to push the American media to finally report completely and fairly on the case of the Five.
From: René González
mailing address: undisclosed for personal safety.
relation to the issue: I’m one of the Cuban Five mentioned in the editorial.
Telephone: undisclosed for personal safety.
Your editorial regarding the case of Alan Gross -and in passing the one of the Cuban Five- is so charged with factual inaccuracies that it can only be explained -at least in part- by the astonishing decision by the American media to not publish anything of the longest “espionage” trial in the history of the country, which ended up on such harsh sentences that would suggest a danger to the US that everybody on the planet should have been aware of. I won’t burden you with all the inaccuracies and will only refer to a few of them.
It is true that it is illegal for Cuba to connect to the Internet. After all, the whole country is banned by the US government to hook up to the underwater cable that runs parallel to the Cuban coast, just north of the island. It strains credibility that the Washington Post wouldn’t be able to find the truth about such a simple factual matter. That the same government that prohibits the whole island to connect to the web then devices a clandestine operation to decide which Cubans will have the privilege to circumvent the very prohibition that he imposes on the country’s citizenry can hardly be considered of a humanitarian character.
That the Jewish Cuban community had anything to do with that operation has been the most often repeated lie of the last two years. The cynicism of having played the Jewish card on this case lies on somebody else other than any Cuban official, and has been the basis of the mayor disinformation on this issue. It would surely be easy for the Washington Post also to find out the truth by simply contacting the people that the editorial cites as having visited Mr Gross in prison: The Cuban Jewish leaders, whose community enjoys every benefit when it comes to communications that a country under so much limitations in that regard can give them.
Well before the arrest of Mr Gross the Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the United Nations Humans Right Commission, Amnesty International, more than a hundred Brithish MP’s, ten Nobel price winners, the entire Mexican Senate, 56 Canadian MP’s and thousands of personalities, political and civil organizations all over the world called for an end to the vindictive and arbitrary treatment of the Five. It would have taken any news outlet, including the Post, to just read the decision of the Appellate panel on the 11th Circuit -August 5, 2005-, where the terrorist activities against Cuba which we were watching on are listed, to explain why so many people support us.
That also explains the reasons of my incapacity to give you my mailing address or telephone number. After all, during my sentencing, the prosecutors asked the Judge
-who granted it- that “the defendant should be prohibited from associating with terrorists or to visit places where it is known that terrorists, people who promote violence or organized crime figures meet”. They forgot, nevertheless, to offer me the same protection against the terrorists, who enjoy any freedom to come after me if they only new my location.
Some times bad actions have unintended consequences, and this applies now. Every one of those who decided to spill on the five of us his hatred towards the Cuban government, now has put that same government on a position when it would be impossible for him to exercise the generosity that -to take just an example- was exercised with the Bay of Pigs invaders. I have nothing personal against Mr Gross and wish him well, but it is not wise -as suggested by the editorial- to think that the recycling of the same arrogance and lies will do him any good. It doesn’t make sense to mistreat somebody and at the same time demand generosity from him. That logic should come to an end, the sooner the better for our two peoples.
I respectfully suggest that there is still time for the Post to take this matter seriously. Open a real debate on all this issues and don’t keep going down the same worn out path that goes nowhere.
It reads in the Bible that “the truth will set you free”. That might apply to Mr Gross today.
René González Sehwerert