A Cuban court has sentenced USAID contractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for engaging in subversive activity intended to undermine the Cuban government. Some 15 months ago, Gross was arrested by Cuban authorities for delivering satellite telephone equipment to people within Cuba.
At first U.S. officials falsely implied that Gross was just a regular humanitarian who was trying to help out the Cuban people, but according to an article in theNew York Times, U.S. officials “eventually acknowledged that Mr. Gross lacked a proper visa and was working on a secretive United States Agency for International Development, or Usaid, program to expand Internet access.”
Needless to say, U.S. officials are up in arms over the 15-year sentence, portraying Gross’ activities as just as just another innocent democracy-spreading project of the U.S. government.
How can the U.S. government be genuinely committed to spreading democracy when it remains firmly committed to supporting dictatorship? Is the U.S. government canceling its billions of dollars in foreign aid to the dictatorships in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia?
Not on your life.
Despite its much ballyhooed hoopla in favor of pro-democracy demonstrators in the Middle East and against Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. government is standing firm in favor of continuing to support the various dictatorships it has supported for decades, including the military dictatorship in Egypt with which it even had a partnership to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government.
Let’s also not forget that the U.S. government’s support of anti-democratic dictatorships isn’t limited to the Middle East but in fact also extends to Latin America. There was the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile and the military dictatorship in Argentina. Don’t forget about the CIA’s ouster of the democratically elected president of Guatemala and his replacement by a series of brutal U.S.-approved military dictators. For that matter, don’t forget the U.S. military’s School of the Americas, which long prided itself on training the military forces of all sorts of right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, ones that were known for their death squads, rapists, and torturers.
What was Gross doing in Cuba? He was stirring up trouble, which is what the U.S. Empire is really good at. As everyone knows, ever since 1959 U.S. officials have had a deep psychological obsession with removing Fidel Castro from power and replacing him with a U.S.-approved stooge, an obsession that continues even to this day.
What would happen if a Cuban communist agent got caught violating U.S. law by engaging in subversive activity designed to result in the overthrow of the U.S. government? We all know what would happen. U.S. officials would scream like banshees, raise the color codes to super-red, and impose even more anti-terrorism (and anti-communism) measures against the American people. And then they’d sentence the guy to life in prison or even execute him. Or they’d simply take him to the U.S. side of Cuba, where they’d torture him and detain him for life without a trial.
In fact, consider the five Cuban agents who were caught in Florida several years ago trying to ferret out plans to commit terrorist attacks against Cuba. They were caught and actually prosecuted by U.S. officials for “spying.” The five men, who are known as the Cuban Five, received jail sentences ranging from 15 years to life. Apparently only the United States, not Cuba, is permitted to defend against terrorism.
In another example of the hypocrisy that has long pervaded the U.S. Empire, U.S. officials complain about the fact that Gross was held for more than a year without a trial. Are they joking? At Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has held people for some 10 years without a trial. At least Gross got a “trial,” even though it was about as genuine as the “trials” will be at Gitmo, that is if they ever get around to holding them.
Rightfully, Cuba is none of the U.S. government’s business. The U.S. government has no more legitimate authority to interfere in the affairs of Cuba than it does in any country in the world. Cuba belongs to the Cuban people, not to the U.S. government.
The U.S. government is now seeking leniency for Alan Gross. It should show good faith by immediately doing the following two things (1) permanently lift the cruel, brutal, and hypocritical 50-year-old U.S. embargo against the Cuban people, and (2) permanently close its cruel, brutal, and hypocritical prison camp in Cuba and relinquish all leasehold rights to the property to Cuba.