[Marxism] The Alan Gross case

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 30 08:32:47 MDT 2010

Counterpunch Weekend Edition
July 30 - August 1, 2010
Could Twelve Dozen Equal Five?
The Alan Gross Case


Someone, perhaps the protagonist himself, made a mistake -- 
perhaps an “oversight,” as Washington bureaucrats label their 
errors. Alan Gross, on a mission for his company (DAI) working for 
US AID (United States Agency for International Development) 
solicited a tourist visa to travel to Cuba for the purpose of 
“promoting democracy,” a euphemism for undermining governments 
that challenge Washington dictates.

Imagine the 60-year old American posing as a tourist while 
distributing laptops, cell phones and forbidden satellite phones 
to Cubans! Gross should have known he would draw the attention of 
Cuban state security. Or did he think he could innocuously 
drop-off expensive appliance at private homes, like a Santa Claus 
who prolonged his gift-giving night? Gross claimed he intended 
only to help the Cuban Jewish community upgrade its communication 
technology. Do most religious Jews believe God will talk to them 
only via satellite phone?

The atheistic Cuban government, of course, would have denied him 
permission to accomplish this task; so big deal, he lied and wrote 
“tourist” on his visa application. Not really a lie. He did hope 
to visit the Tropicana and spend a day at the beach in between 
satellite phone deliveries.

Gross knew Cuba does not allow satellite phones. A sign at the 
airport announces this. Satellite phones prevent tapping and could 
be used for sending coded messages on several frequencies. Their 
signals will usually bypass local telecoms systems. Oh, these 
phones can also call in coordinates for air strikes. On the web, 
Motorola advertises its satellite phones at bargain prices: 
between $1795 and $5273 – not counting service.

In addition, the Cuban state phone company holds a monopoly and 
doesn’t allow competition. But if Gross wanted Jews to communicate 
to relatives abroad why not distribute phone cards in hard 
currency or Cuban-made cell phones with a prepaid long distance 

How did he acquire his merchandise? Could Cuban customs, which 
x-rays all incoming baggage, have missed these hi-tech phones in 
his suitcase? Not likely. Did Gross pick them up at the US 
Interest Section?

In any case, Gross, working for DAI, a company contracted to the 
US government, Cuba’s primary enemy, falsified his immigration 
form and failed to register with Cuba as an agent of the US 
government. In other words, Cuba had him cold on immigration fraud 
and failing to register. Did he really think he wouldn’t get 
caught? Did no one in his company or at AID warn him? A Gringo 
going around Cuba handing out satellite phones to Jews? And there 
are not that many in Cuba.

Given the facts of prima facie evidence of his lying to Cuban 
immigration and distributing taboo products, you’d think from 
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s recent remarks that Cuba had 
unjustly arrested a gross of innocent Jewish Americans trying to 
help members of their suffering tribe who already get plenty of 
communications help from Jewish agencies in several countries.

Clinton appealed to American Jews to rally behind Alan, who “has 
been held in a Cuban jail for the last seven months without being 
charged with any crime – because he did not commit any crime. He 
was in Cuba as a humanitarian and development worker and, in fact, 
was assisting the small Jewish community in Havana that feels very 
cut off from the world.” Clinton, speaking at a dinner honoring 
Hannah Rosenthal, the Obama administration’s special envoy to 
monitor and combat anti- Semitism, raised the issue at the behest 
of his family “I am really making an appeal to the active Jewish 
community here in our country to join this cause.” (Jerusalem 
Post, July 15) She probably didn’t have time in her remarks to 
mention one fact: Gross worked for a company contracted with an 
agency in her own State Department -- USAID.  (July 13 speech to 
reception hosted for the Jewish Community)

In late February, I asked three people at Havana’s largest 
synagogue; none knew an American named Gross. Adela Dworin, who 
speaks for the Jewish community in Havana, told a CBS 
correspondent she knew Gross. She said recognized international 
Jewish organizations had some time ago provided them with legal 
Internet connections.

Alan Gross had previously set up satellite communications systems 
to circumvent state-controlled channels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like a bottom fish on the precarious food chain of subverting a 
foreign government, Gross got caught on a Cuban police hook. Cuba 
has not yet formally charged him although Cuban officials have 
said they “suspect him of espionage.”

Secretary Clinton, pleading for Gross’ freedom, ignored the case 
of five admitted Cuban agents serving long sentences in US federal 
prisons. Like Gross they also failed to register as foreign agents 
(maximum sentence 18 months); unlike him, they came to Miami to 
fight terrorism, not to undermine the US government or political 

The five Cuban agents admitted they didn’t register as foreign 
agents – their only crime. Yet, the Justice charged them, without 
evidence, of conspiring to commit espionage and other felonies. 
The intimidated Miami judge and jury predictably convicted and 
sentenced them. Gross traveled to Cuba to undermine the Cuban 

Different motives, but hell isn’t it time for a swap? Cuba 
announced it would soon free all its political prisoners -- plus a 
Gross for five? Judy Gross, his wife, could stand beside the wives 
of the five Cuban prisoners’ wives demanding: “free our husbands.” 
Perhaps such an exchange is underway? In a recent video Fidel 
Castro told a group of visiting clergymen that the Five would be 
home before the end of the year. If that’s true, both Hillary and 
Judy Gross would also have reasons to feel good.

Saul Landau directed Michael Manley’s campaign films in 1976 and 
1980. Counterpunch published his A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD

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