Monday, August 15, 2011

USINT on Alan Gross, January 2010

From a January 6, 2010 cable from USINT Havana on detained American USAID contractor Alan Gross, weeks after his arrest:



5. (S/NF) President Raul Castro himself was the first Cuban official to have acknowledged the arrest. (The only other public statement by officials or in the official press was a January 6 remark about his treatment by National Assembly President Alarcon in response to questions from the press.) Theories about the arrest abound, from an attempt to force high-level attention from Washington a la North Korea, to a move to counter the blogger movement (see paragraph 7). However, at his National Assembly speech on December 20, President Castro linked the detention to U.S. democracy programs on the island, deriding the very notion of a Cuban "civil society" (Ref C). Whether that was Castro's intent or not, the arrest has chilled the atmosphere for democracy programs in Cuba, especially those that hinged on unfettered and hassle-free travel to the island. Thus, the arrest has already served the interests of the authoritarian ruling class. It is not clear how the GOC intends to exact more mileage from the arrest, but if theories about the elder Castro are accurate, he could throw a gigantic wrench in the relationship if he insists on holding the man as a bargaining chip.

The cable makes reference to 09 Havana 772, an undisclosed cable that provides an account of a consular visit with Mr. Gross.

More recent releases here.

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