Gross: What Happened Between March and August?

On August fifth it was announced that the fifteen¬-year sentence arising out of the March fourth Provincial Court trial against Alan Gross, a US AID contractor, was upheld by the Cuban Supreme Court. The American citizen appealed the decision of the Provincial Court in Cuba’s highest level of the judiciary on June 22, the result of which was made public on August fifth.

Regarding this issue, since March fourth to date the international media, especially based in Miami, Washington and Madrid, are concentrating on Havana, the Gross trials and legal challenges.

For those who may be puzzled by the Supreme Court decision, it would be useful to examine briefly what has happened in the United States — not Cuba — between March fourth to date in order to perhaps shed some light onto the Supreme Court’s confirmation of the lower court’s resolution. In this five-month period, the Obama Administration has on many occasions repeated its policy of interfering in the internal affairs of Cuba under the guise of “democracy promotion”. For example, the Congress has recently ratified once again the decision to spend 20$ million in the next year explicitly dedicated to subversion in Cuba, including the type of activities that Gross had carried out and for which he has been arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced. On many occasions the Obama Administration in collaboration with their mercenaries on and off the island did not reduce, but rather reinforced, their provocative activities against the sovereignty of Cuba, one of the legal principles violated by Gross as a US agent contractor.

While Obama visited Chile on March 21, 2011, not long after the original trial and sentencing of Gross, the US President spoke about the need to defend “democracy and human rights within our borders [USA and Chile], let us recommit to defending them across our hemisphere…. And yes, that includes the people of Cuba.”

How do readers think that the Cuban government and judiciary had taken this? By adding insult to injury, Obama stated in an interview to a Chilean newspaper as a prelude to his visit to Santiago de Chile that “The Chilean experience, and more particularly its successful transition to democracy and its sustained, growing economy, is a model for the region and the world.”

When the news was released on August fifth regarding the Cuban Supreme Court decision, it was the same day that those of us who follow the news through Telesúr and other alternative media were able to bear witness to how the Chilean police violently attacked the students and professors demanding education, economic and political rights. There were according to official sources 874 arrests and hundreds wounded. Is this the example that Obama meant of Chile being a model of democracy and economic development for Cuba? The scenes of Chilean state brutality resembled more the emblematic steps (Escalanita) of the University of Havana before the January 1, 1959 Triumph of the Revolution, when the US-backed Batista dictatorship unleashed their forces so many times against the youth, professors and workers. Many students were killed in these assaults in Havana, but so far at the time of writing in any case, there has been no deaths in Chile during the course of the current confrontations.

Despite the demands to Obama from around the world declared by Nobel Prize winners, individual parliamentarians, parliaments and personalities for the release of the Cuban Five, what has Obama done between March fourth and today? He has done nothing, and we are heading into a most crucial period for the soon-to-be concluded Habeus Corpus process for Gerardo Hernández Nodelo, with nothing yet positive in sight at this time. The Cuban Five are imprisoned since 1998 because they attempted to curb US-backed terrorist interference in the internal affairs of Cuba.

Given all these provocations and repeated confirmations from the White House and the US Congress that they have every intention to continue their program of attempting to subvert Cuba’s constitutional order, how else can the Cuban government and judicial authorities react? They have no choice but to make it clear that they will continue to defend their sovereignty as it is the right of every country to do so, big or small.

Allan Gross and his family should blame their own government for their predicament. The White House got him into it in the first place. By carrying out the same policies against Cuba since March fourth to date, it has given no reason for the Cuban judiciary to decide otherwise.

Arnold August is a Montreal-based author/journalist/lecturer and Cuba specialist. His first book was Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (English, 1999). His 2013 book is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (English, Spanish, French). He can be reached at: Read other articles by Arnold.