News and Facts about Cuba

Alan Gross put Cuba’s Jews in awkward position

Analysis: Alan put Cuba’s Jews in awkward position

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that Gross was not operating on
behalf of the CIA. Nonetheless, his activities violated Cuban law.

The activities of American Jew Alan Gross, who was released from
by Cuban authorities three weeks ago, put the Cuban Jewish community in
a precarious position, jeopardizing its relations with the Castro regime.

Gross was at Havana five years ago and was subsequently
sentenced to 15 years in prison for “actions against the state.”

For years, Gross worked in the area of and development
as an employee for US companies abroad. As part of his job description,
Gross often traveled overseas, including to Middle Eastern countries
like Iraq. Just prior to his arrest, Gross worked as a subcontractor for
USAID, helping to install communications equipment for various
organizations.

This was also the purpose of his trip to Cuba – he was sent to the
island nation as an independent subcontractor for an American company
that was doing work on behalf of USAID.

In line with US policy at the time, his job was to undermine the
communist regime in Cuba and to help nongovernmental organizations and
dissidents of the government to evade detection by authorities who
closely watch and listen to all communications on the island.

In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, designed to bolster the
American against Cuba that had been in place since the rise of
.

The law includes a number of clauses designed to spur “a peaceful
transition to representative democracy and a market ” in Cuba. In
helping to advance a policy which for all intents and purposes is aimed
at toppling the ruling government in Cuba, Congress budgeted $20 million
per year.

Development Alternatives, the contracting company that employed Gross,
received a $6 million contract from USAID.

Gross himself earned a salary of $500,000 for his efforts.

During a five-month period in 2009, he flew four times to Cuba on a
visa, smuggling into the country a range of sophisticated
communications equipment that included smartphones, computers, satellite
devices, and an advanced chip used for espionage purposes.

In late 2009, when he tried to enter Cuba for fifth time, he was
arrested. The Cuban authorities accused him of spying for US intelligence.

The Obama administration, his attorneys, and his family denied the
charges. In 2011, Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know that Gross was not operating on
behalf of the CIA. Nonetheless, his activities violated Cuban law, which
forbids smuggling of the kind of equipment that he had in his
possession. Gross may or may not have been guilty of espionage, but he
certainly was negligent and careless.

He claimed that he was bringing the equipment to help Cuba’s Jewish
community.

It later emerged, however, that the community was not in need of such
assistance.

The Jews of Cuba number 2,000 people, most of which live in the capital.
Havana is home to a number of synagogues, and Cuban Jews enjoy complete
of worship.

Jewish ties with Fidel Castro were good, and they remain positive with
Castro’s successor, his brother Raul. The Jews of Cuba are free to emigrate.

They are permitted to make aliya, if they so choose.

Since 1992, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has
maintained close ties with the Cuban Jewish community. It has provided
economic assistance to the elderly while helping to preserve Jewish
heritage on the island.

Not only did Gross’s alibi create difficulties and cause embarrassment
for the Jewish community in Cuba, but it could also have adversely
impacted Jewish communities in countries whose governments are hostile
to the US.

The Gross case could have led foreign governments to suspect that the
Jews in their midst who have ties with Jewish organizations in the US
are acting as emissaries for American espionage.

From this standpoint, Gross and his handlers’ behavior could only be
described as totally irresponsible.

When I contacted Alan and his wife Judy Gross in hopes of asking them a
few questions – namely whether they have any regrets about their
activities or whether they believe it caused damage to the Jewish
community in Cuba – they refused to comment. Instead, they referred me
to a public relations handler, who offered very little.

Source: Analysis: Alan Gross put Cuba’s Jews in awkward position –
Diaspora – Jerusalem Post –
http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Analysis-Alan-Gross-irresponsible-behavior-put-Cubas-Jewish-community-in-awkward-position-386616

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