Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to help Alan Gross?

Friends of jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross who are pulling for his release want the Obama Administration to consider negotiating for his release, perhaps with some concessions regarding the Cuban Five that would fall short of a five-for-one swap. 

That message emerged after Gross used his weekly phone call to speak with Washington-area Jewish leaders.  See stories from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Baltimore Sun.

The Administration continues to assert that Gross’ arrest and conviction were unfounded, the Cuban legal system is a sham, he should be released unconditionally, and there will be no negotiation because his activities in Cuba and those of the Cuban agents here are not comparable. 

Ronald Halber of Washington’s Jewish Community Relations Council says the Administration should act in our “national interest.”   He is starting a good debate; even if one buys all the Administration’s arguments, it’s hard to see how its position helps get Mr. Gross out of jail.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Exponent reports on the visit to the United States of Mayra Levy, head of Havana’s Sephardic synagogue, who encourages American Jews to visit.  From the story: “Levy said the community received Gross warmly. ‘But he broke the Cuban laws,’ she said, adding that members of the community visit Gross from time to time.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The obvious solution is not a one for five swap but a more even one, say five or seven for five where the imprisoned Alan Gross and CIA agents and political prisoners are exchanged for the five Cuban spies.

The Obama administration's problem is how and when to do it so that it would have the most beneficial effect on the November Presidential election.

The problem is that the swaps that free Gross and benefits the Jewish vote run the danger of hurting the Cuban American vote in the crucial swing state of Florida.

One should not put too much weight on State Dept. press releases stating that no swap is possible.

There are probable back channel negotiations going on as we speak.

The most probable time frame for the announcement of an agreement would be in MHO two or three months before the November election.

A possible solution would be a two stage swap with a more favorable swap for the US before elections followed by a Presidential Amnesty and deportation for several Cuban spies after November.

That way the administration could get Jewish electoral vote credit for Gross's return and avoid Cuban American vote loss.

A continuation of the status quo till November would be very harmful for Obama's reelection.

Jewish activists in the US should press for a rapid practical viable solution.