Monday, March 18, 2013

A new Alan Gross statement


Jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross, who is suing the U.S. government and his employer DAI, has submitted an affidavit in federal court detailing some of his history working in Cuba.  It was posted by Tracey Eaton on his blog.

Highlights:

  • He “has always disputed, and continues to dispute” the Cuban criminal conviction that resulted in his 15-year sentence.

  • He says he never obtained any SIM cards for his satellite Internet installations from any agency of the U.S. government.  (His September 2009 memo indicates that he planned to do so; discussion here.)

  • He says that his proposal to DAI, which won him the contract, “responded to all aspects” of the company’s request for proposals.  Nonetheless, his motivation for working in Cuba was his “personal passion” for helping Jewish communities around the world.

  • He says he was unaware that his work implementing the USAID program in Cuba could run afoul of Cuban law.  He only learned this after his arrest.

  • His project manager at DAI told him to focus exclusively on setting up the equipment and making it work and “not to worry” about “content” to be conveyed; DAI would handle that.

  • He says he made no attempt to conceal the equipment that he carried into Cuba from Cuban Customs or from anyone else.

  • Recipients of his equipment appreciated it and said it was more useful than anything they could set up on their own, even if funds were unlimited.

  • He once saw a Cuban government van equipped with an antenna in a neighborhood where he had installed satellite Internet equipment.  He surmises that it was searching for his equipment’s signals.

  • His expectation was that if Cuban authorities were to crack down on his activities, they would take his equipment and expel him.

  • Before his last trip to Cuba, DAI asked him to propose expanding his activities to “African-Cubans, women, youths, and other religious groups,” and to see if members of Cuba’s Jewish community would provide technical support.  The latter request made him “very uncomfortable.”

  • Days after his arrest, DAI asked his wife to hand over his laptop so information could be deleted from it.  Mrs. Gross agreed and handed it over.

5 comments:

Antonio said...

Ay, this guy. I guess we are going to be subjected to this to and fro circus until 2016. I think his next best may come when Obama is leaving the White House, and his willingness to exchange him for the Cuban 5. Presidents tend to do this when they are leaving office.

Anonymous said...

The details of this whole episode really are not that important.

What matters is that:
1- There are human beings suffering both in Cuba and in the United States who need our help to get on with their lives.
2- The process of bettering relations between both countries and of fostering a democratic transition in Cuba is being delayed and over eleven million people are being hurt due to the on going nature of this situation.

Moreover the problem is not that complicated. Finding a solution does not require the use of rocket science.

All that is needed is just plain common sense, a humanitarian approach, and a willingness to compromise.

So what the heck is holding up a solution to the whole mess?

Let's get on with it!

Swap all the imprisoned Spies in both countries and Alan Gross along with them and let's move on!

For God's sake this whole issue is going on and on and on and is really becoming tiresome!

What are our elected officials doing? Are they earning their pay?

We elect them to solve problems effectively not to let them drag on and on like this!

Why wait for the end of the presidential term when an acceptable solution should have already been negotiated and implemented?

Cantaclaro




Anonymous said...

If the BGAN equipment for satellite internet communications can be detected through triangulation by vans with antennas, then the whole project that Alan Gross was trying to implement seems even more senseless and/or provocative because those who designed the project knew that the location of the BGANS would eventually be found and that the persons who operated them would be subject to prosecution.

The logical conclusion from these facts would have been that the only safe place for them would have been in sites with diplomatic immunity where they could have carried out their function without endangering anybody and to use the diplomatic mail to bring such equipment into the island.

Intead a Jewish subcontractor was hired to place the BGANS in Jewish community sites and he in turn used American Jews traveling to Cuba to visit their Cuban counterparts to attempt to smuggle part of the electronic equipment necessary for the whole project,

Thus the project put at risk a jewish subcontractor, american jews on a charitable religious mission to the island and members of the Cuban jewish community who would operate the BGAN equipment.

It would seem that the promoters of the project had the objective not of providing internet access for the Cuban Jewish Community but of creating an incident that would worsen relations not only between the American and Cuban governments but also between the latter and progressive Jewish opinion, which has always favored reducing the embargo and bettering relations between the governments of both countries.

CANTACLARO

Anonymous said...

The Cuban government recognized this intention and, in order to show that it had no antisemitic intentions, consciouslly limited its actions against all those involved solely to the prosecution of Alan Gross.

IT did not take any legal measures against the members of the Cuban Jewish Community and the visiting American Jewish tourists who had unknowingly participated in bringing into the country, setting up or operating the communications equipment.

Moreover, both Castro brothers have gone out of their way to make it clear that there has been no antisemitic intention in the whole matter on the part of the Cuban government and in the Cuban government's interest in maintaining good relations with Jewish communities world wide.

Fidel Castro invited a prominent Jewish reporter and a Cuba specialist to the island and in unprecedented gestures, hosted both of them for supper at his home and followed through by opening the Havana aquarium on its off day for a private visit by him, his two Jewish guests and the head of the Cuban Jewish community.

He even told the Jewish reporter in an interview that he favored the existence of a Jewish state, which prompted favorable comments by the President and Prime Minister of Israel.

Raul Castro, in turn, visited the main Jewish synaguogue in the island and participated personally in a Jewish religious celebration.

Also members of the Jewish community in the island and visiting Rabbis have been allowed to visit Alan Gross frequently and he has been allowed to participate with his visitors in Jewish religious celebrations.

On the other hand, Joe Cardona, a former high official of USAID and of the Cuban American National Foundation has admitted his participation and responsibility in planning the whole project which led to Gross's detention.

It is also true that Alan Gross has some responsibility in the whole situation because for a financial reward he willingly participated in a situation that was illegal according to Cuban law.

So the background to the whole matter, although still murky, is sufficiently clear to speculate that the whole objective of the plot was to create an incident that could be used to accuse the Cuban government of antisemitic intentions and that such objective was not accomplished.

CANTACLARO

Anonymous said...

under these circumstances the principal question to be answered is how to put an end to the unfortuante cosnequences of this provocation.

What practical measures should be taken to:

1- Free this poor man from the fix he is in because he allowed himself to be used as an instrument by the Cuban American right?
2- Free spies from both sides imprisoned in the US and Cuba?
3- Try to better relations between both countries by renewing negotiations to gradually end the existing embargo?

In my opinion, if we exclude from consideration an attempt to use military force to free Alan Gross that, whatever the result, would only serve to aggravate unnecessarily the relations between both countries, the only possible solution for the whole mess would be a 5X5 swap of spies or political opponents.

This is not very difficult to figure out and would be a humane and pragmatic solution for the whole incident.

The only rational explanations that I can speculate why this has not been done is that:

1- There is a bipartisan voting block of 3 senators and four representatives of Cuban origin in the US congress that oppose any solution that might eventually lead to the weakening of the US embargo against the island.
2- That the US Jewish organizations have not insisted sufficiently for the US government to find a rapid acceptable that would free Alan Gross.

Alan Gross has already been in a Cuban jail for more than three years.

How much longer will he have to continue under these conditions he can return to a normal life with his family?

It would be a very nice gesture that would help to better US relations with Israel if during Obama's visit there a solution would be offered or negotiated for the release from detention of both Alan Gross and Jonathan Pollard!

Both men are worthy of solidarity and receiving an opportunity to lead normal lives.

And the sme can be said for US spies that are under Cuban detention!

Let us ask our government to seek a rapid solution for all these human tragedies.

Cantaclaro