15 03 2011


The Cuban press reported at the weekend that the US citizen Alan Gross had been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”. From what I know of the case, which has not had extensive coverage in the media here, Gross was working for a company contracting for the US Government Department of State, to “promote democracy” in Cuba.

In reality, the US Government has no interest in democracy in Cuba, in the same way that it has no interest in democracy in Saudi Arabia. What it is interested in is returning capitalism to Cuba and gaining compensation for those US companies and individuals who lost their assets when they were nationalised in the early years of the revolution.

To that end, they are determined to bring down the Cuban Government and they devote millions of dollars each year to that purpose. You would think that, after 52 years, they might ask themselves what they have achieved with those millions of dollars, but US politics works in mysterious ways.

Gross had illegally entered Cuba on a tourist visa and was planning to distribute satellite telephones. He claims that he was working with Cuban Jewish organisations, to assist them with communication. Why would synagogues need satellite telephones? The leaders of the synagogues here deny having contact with him. Many foreign synagogues have links with the Cuban Jewish community and visit here to provide assistance. This is not a problem. What is a problem is providing satellite telephones, which have military uses and are expressly forbidden from being imported into the country.

Fifteen years may seem harsh, but when compared with the sentences given to five Cubans working for the Cuban Government in the US, it does not seem so bad. These are the Five Cuban Heroes – as they are known here – who entered the US on behalf of the Cuban Government to infiltrate Cuban opposition groups in Miami and provide information on planned terrorist attacks. This was in the 1990s and anti-Cuban terrorism was a real problem. In 1976 a Cuban airplane was bombed en route from Venezuela, killing everybody on board. In the 1990s bombs were placed in Havana hotels, killing an Italian tourist. These terrorist attacks were planned and financed in Miami.

The US Government uncovered the five and sentenced them to lengthy periods of imprisonment, between 15 years and life. Two of the five have not been allowed visits from their spouses, because the US claims that they (the spouses) are Cuban agents. Amnesty International has claimed that the five were denied a fair trial.

The Cuban Government and sympathetic groups throughout the world have campaigned for the release of the five. It is believed that at one time the Catholic Church was attempting to negotiate the return of the five in exchange for Cuba releasing 70 prisoners who had been convicted of working on behalf of the US. The US Government would not play ball and the Cubans released their prisoners unilaterally last year, after negotiations with the church.

Now that the Cubans have a US agent behind bars, perhaps their negotiating hand will have been strengthened. I hope so.

The five Cubans must wish that they were Russian instead. When a network of Russian spies was uncovered in the US last year, within weeks they were on a plane back to Russia. This is the normal procedure when spies are uncovered: the expulsion of some diplomats; the summoning of the ambassador to be told of the government’s disappointment and the offence caused; and then, quietly, the spies are returned and things return to normal. Why does the US Government treat the Cubans differently? Because the Cubans must be punished for successfully sticking two fingers up to US imperialism for the last 52 years and demonstrating that a small Caribbean island does not have to dance to its powerful neighbour’s tune.



2 responses

15 03 2011
Dan Jorgensen

I was in Cuba recently, saw many displays about the 5 Heroes and wondered what it was about, thanks for the explanation. The world needs to know how the US bullies smaller Central American and Caribbean countries.

16 03 2011
Amanda Naesman

Awesome report!

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