Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 08/07/2011
Alan Gross, Castro and Obama
By Jennifer Rubin
The Post reported:
Cuba's top court has rejected the final appeal of a U.S. government
contractor sentenced to 15 years in prison, despite appeals from top
American officials for his release.
Alan P. Gross, of Potomac, Md., has been held since December 2009
for distributing satellite communications equipment to Cuba's Jewish
community. He was sentenced in March for his work, which Cuban
authorities claimed was aimed at undermining the island's Communist
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who
has loudly criticized the Obama administration put out a statement: "The
Cuban dictatorship is clearly using Mr. Gross to strengthen its grip on
power and gain leverage with the United States. I was not surprised by
this decision as we are dealing with a cruel and heinous regime that has
no compassion whatsoever and whose only goal is to increase its
stranglehold on the Cuban nation." She then bashed the administration:
"Upon Gross's detainment, even before his kangaroo court trial and his
unjust sentence and rejection of appeal, the Obama administration should
have ended the ongoing six-month conversation with the Castro regime,
suspended the opening of further airports with new charter flights to
Cuba and implemented the range of sanctions that it has available. This
administration must come to the realization that coddling dictators does
nothing to advance the interests of the United States."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another ferocious critic of President Obama's
Cuba policy, also put out a statement:
"This is a deplorable human rights violation. It has been well
documented that Mr. Gross is simply a humanitarian who was seeking to
help the Jewish community in Cuba access the Internet. The Castro
regime's cowardly fear of what would happen if Cuban citizens have
access to uncensored information does not justify this man's
incarceration at all, much less for 15 years. Mr. Gross's unjust
sentence is the latest example of everything that is wrong with the
Castro regime. For every Alan Gross, there are many more Cubans being
incarcerated, harassed and repressed for simply yearning to be free.
"The Obama administration's insistence on moving forward with
policies that put more money in this terrorist-sponsoring regime's
coffers is baffling and runs contrary to everything America should stand
for. I urge President Obama to halt his misguided unilateral
concessions, deny the regime the resources it needs to impose its
repressive will, condemn .?.?. [Friday's] decision and insist that Mr.
Gross be released immediately."
This is not a partisan affair. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), ranking
Democrat of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on the Western
Hemisphere, also put out a statement:
"It was wrong of the Cuban regime to arrest Alan Gross, it was
wrong to imprison him and it was wrong to reject his appeal. Alan Gross
was in Cuba to help bring the Internet to the small Jewish community —
not a crime, except in a dictatorship like Cuba. Rejecting his appeal
was simply unjustified and inhumane, and I call upon the Cuban regime to
release Alan Gross without delay."
The administration put out a lone sentence, devoid of any warnings or
threats: "We call on the government of Cuba to release Alan Gross
immediately and unconditionally, to allow him to return to his family
and bring to an end the long ordeal that began well over a year ago."
I'm sure that has them quaking in Havana.
Elliott Abrams wrote:
Cuba's "laws" permit clemency, so Gross could be released by the
Castros any day they please. In that sense the ball is squarely in their
court, all of Gross's "legal" appeals having run out. But in another
sense the ball is now in President Obama's court. . . . But in fact the
Obama administration has given the Castro regime numerous benefits, for
example allowing more Americans to travel to Cuba and thereby help its
economy. Some of those benefits were awarded in 2009 soon after coming
into office, but others were put into place this year, even as Alan
Gross sat in a Cuban prison.
It seems the relaxation of sanctions has only emboldened the
dictatorship. This, of course, is the pattern everywhere under Obama.
He's tried to "reset" or engage Russia, China, Syria and Iran. None of
it has inured to our benefit. And in each case, the human rights
situation is much worse.
As with the economy, Obama's weakness and lack of realism in foreign
policy reveal how underqualified and inept the president is. There is
just so much Congress can do in the realm of foreign affairs. In 2012
the American people can stage an intervention by evicting Obama. But it
is up to the Republicans to field a candidate who can restore not just
America's economic strength but our moral and geopolitical standing.
By Jennifer Rubin | 12:55 PM ET, 08/07/2011