Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rene packs, Alan waits

Well, this is interesting. 

Both Alan Gross, the USAID contractor serving a Cuban jail sentence, and Rene Gonzalez, the convicted Cuban agent who completed his jail term and is now on probation, have relatives who are dying of cancer and each has requested a chance to return home for a visit.

Cuban authorities have not commented on Gross’ request.

The Justice Department opposed Gonzalez’ request on national security grounds, but a federal judge has now granted it – a two-week visit with a requirement that he check in from Cuba and return to finish serving his probation.

This might seem to set the stage for a reciprocal action on Cuba’s part.  But since the Obama Administration argued against the Gonzalez visit in court, it would be tricky for U.S. diplomats to take credit for the judge’s order and present it as a positive gesture. 

But try they might.  When Cuban officials are asked to commute Alan Gross’ sentence and let him come home for good, they respond that they are willing to talk about humanitarian gestures on a reciprocal basis.

One thing that stands out is that the United States trusts Gonzalez when he says he will come back after his visit.

Granma’s dry note on the judge’s order is here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Cuban government is on the spot.

They want to use Alan Gross to get all their five agents back not to trade him for the agent with a three year parole.

At the same time the federal judges decision sort of compells them to return a humanitarian gesture of some sort.

If the US government lets Gerardo Gonzalez visit his father and they do not allow Alan Gross to visit his mother, they are placed in a very difficult position which makes them vulnerable to propaganda attacks and makes the prospect of a negotiated prisoner swap even more problematic.

I am unaware of how the Cuban government can manage to wiggle out of their predicament.

Except of course if an agreement between both governments has been negotiated under the table for a one for one swap now to be followed by a multiple prisoner swap involving the remaining Cuban spies some time later preferibly after the US elections.