Gross vs. sovereignty
By Luis Sexto
In the case of Alan Gross, the Academy of (political) Language may have to convene a congress to decide whether the word “subversion” should have two different entries meaning the same, or if there is more than one dictionary to judge or qualify all acts related to politics, according to the place where the language is spoken.
In the United States, specifically Miami, Gross is a well-meaning citizen who only wanted to improve communications abroad for certain groups of Cubans.
At first, the Jews were included in the generous action. And when the leaders of the Jewish community refused to be the recipients of such advanced means of satellite communications – what good are they to us, they may have argued – the allegations pointed to (this time accurately, apparently) the so-called dissidents who, in a strict lexicographic definition, are proactive and “foreignizing” foes of the Cuban Government.
On behalf of a U.S. law that legitimizes the struggle for democracy in Cuba – the Helms-Burton Act – a U.S. citizen can violate Cuban laws if his purposes adhere to the ideals of a champion of freedom in an island nation that, in his view, denies the democratic values defined in Washington's dictionary.
Judging the case through political optics, that is, using the word “politics” the way an acrobat stands on a tightrope, i.e., by maintaining his balance, we should begin by wondering if the arrest and subsequent trial of Alan Gross could possibly constitute, from the side of Cuba, an act of provocation, of ill will towards United States.
Does it benefit Raúl Castro's government to worsen its relations with Washington? Is it practical to negate the effect of the few measures that Barack Obama has adopted, at least to reset the relations between both countries at the point prior to the deterioration caused by Bush Jr.?
Yet another question comes up: Does it make sense that Havana, while releasing men convicted of political offenses – those who were tried in 2003 – and of other crimes, except those who shed blood, and while commuting the death penalty to three men found guilty of terrorism, would trigger a new conflict by trying for subversion, without proof, a prominent citizen of the United States?
As much as we revolve the sphere of politics, as round and mutable as the planet, we do not see a motive that justifies, not to repeat that explains, a behavior so lacking in political sense.
The official U.S. viewpoint does not consider Alan Gross as an agent, although he is called a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It does not see the simple action of handing out candy in Cuba without permission from the Cuban government as implying a violation of Cuban sovereignty.
Doesn't performing the same act in the United States, that is, working for another country in U.S. territory without registering on the federal government's books, constitute a crime that is severely punished, even though the alleged agent entered the country legally?
Therefore, don't blame this writer for taking sides. I'm only trying to point out that reason cannot be parsed in such a way that an action I dislike is lawful when committed against someone else if I am the perpetrator.
And so we see world politics remove its decent garments to assume, in tatters, the role of what in Cuban Spanish is called “the neighborhood bully.” Therefore, “arrogance” would be the word in the dictionary of politics that would sum up the White House demands for Alan Gross' release.
Whatever may be speculated, what appears to be real is that the trial just ended contained enough legal arguments to justify its convening.
And it is also true that the team of Cuban lawyers defending the USAID subcontractor waged “a vigorous defense,” according to El Nuevo Herald of March 5.
This trial, with nearly l4 months of preparation after Gross’ arrest on Dec. 3, 2009, has a meaning that rises above the shrieks of the Miami “exiles” and the threats of Mrs. Clinton and conditions the future improvement of U.S.-Cuba relations to Gross’ release.
But a basic factor must be considered: by trying Alan Gross, Cuba defended its sovereignty and integrity. Because, after all, the U.S. Congress has given tens of millions of dollars to USAID so that the organization can – among other efforts – fund the groups and trends that seek, within and outside of Cuba, to overthrow the legitimate Cuban government and restore Washington's hegemony on this island, which for centuries has been called the Key to the Gulf.
Neither Obama's intellectual background nor his eloquence has been able to change this policy, whose victim, right now, is Alan Gross himself.