Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
The Cuban government has released a statement regarding Alan Gross:
Following an exhaustive investigation, the People’s Provincial Tribunal of the City of Havana has received from the Prosecution preparatory file No. 59/2009 with the accusation of US citizen Alan Phillip Gross for the crime of “Actions Against the Independence and Territorial Integrity of the State.”
In accordance with Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code, the Prosecution is requesting a 20-year prison sentence for the defendant. The date of the trial will be set shortly.
The US government has been informed of this and duly notified through the diplomatic channels that its consular representatives, Mr. Gross’ relatives and his family lawyers will be allowed to attend the trial. END
Mr. Gross’ lawyer, Peter J. Kahn sees this as a positive step towards resolving the situation “after 14 months in a Cuban prison without charge, the fact that Alan Gross’ case is now moving forward is a positive development. We respectfully urge the Cuban authorities to free Alan immediately for time served.” END I find it interesting that he sees this as a positive step. I suppose the Cuban legal system is better than the Cuban penal system and at least there will now be some closure.
The detention of Mr. Gross began on December 3, 2009 when he was taken into custody for allegedly distributing satellite telephone equipment in Cuba. The US has said the units were for the Jewish community but the Cuban Jewish community has denied even knowing Mr. Gross.
A senior State Department official told journalists in Havana on January 13 that Washington was “cautiously optimistic” because of what they were hearing from the Cuban government.
Fidel Castro’s Last Move
No one can dispute that Fidel Castro is a brilliant world political strategist. He has forced 11 US Presidents to play his game of international politics and has beaten every one. Fidel has been on the sidelines for the past several years but this Alan Gross case has his fingerprints all over it. Does Raul Castro care about Alan Gross? Perhaps somewhat but I think Raul would rather get this over with and move on with the possibility of better US Cuba relations.
It’s clear to me that for decades Fidel Castro does not want the US Embargo lifted and the long detention of Alan Gross is Fidel’s last move from an old man trying to stay relevant in the international arena.
Raul’s Statement to the US
I suspect that Raul has pushed for this trial and that there will be a quick resolution to the case. So, the next question is what happens after the trial… and assumed conviction?
I think Raul Castro wants to end this situation and that Mr. Gross will be tried (perhaps with much fanfare) then convicted. Public diplomatic pressure from the US will be applied to Raul to either encourage his sentence to be time served with a release to soon follow.
Old School vs. New School
How this plays out MIGHT turn out to be a battle of Fidel vs. Raul ideologies and of course have a negative or positive effect on US Cuba relations.
IF Raul is fully in charge of Cuba then I think Mr. Gross will be sentenced but released on time served = Better US Cuba relations.
IF Fidel is still in charge then you will see Mr. Gross sentenced to 20 years and taken to a Cuban jail = Worse US Cuba relations.