Today Alan Gross will begin his sixth year in a Cuban prison. His "crime" was to deliver to the minuscule Cuban Jewish community some communications equipment supplied by the United States.
The Cuban government’s crime in keeping him imprisoned is vile, but unsurprising. The Castro regime remains a brutal and vicious dictatorship, and the way Gross is being treated is the way Cubans are normally treated if they oppose the regime.
A few points are worth reiterating. First, there is no better measure of the futility of reaching out to the Castro regime than its contempt for the Obama administration and its refusal to release Gross despite Obama’s efforts to get him out. Second, the Castro regime understands that its imprisonment of Gross is a roadblock to alleviating the embargo and allowing Obama to improve relations with Cuba. It obviously does not care, suggesting that it has no great desire to see the embargo lifted-- in part because that would remove its excuse for its poor economic performance. The regime is defined by hatred of America, and does not want a rapprochement any more than the Ayatollah Khamenei wants one. Third, the thousands of Americans traveling to Cuba to soak up the sun in cheap vacations are engaging in shameful conduct, abandoning a fellow citizen to the regime’s horrors while they make believe they are on some sort of educational tour.
The Gross case is a reminder of the brutality of regimes that see men and women not as individuals endowed with God-given rights but as pawns to be used by the State. We can only hope that Alan Gross, who is in poor health now, can survive his ordeal, and that the ordeal of the Cuban people will also come to an end soon.