“I am leaving Cuba most disappointed and perplexed,” said former New Mexico Governor and recent Democratic diplomatic troubleshooter Bill Richardson from Havana’s Hotel Nacional last week. “After one week (in Cuba) I have exhausted all possibilities to visit Alan Gross. I have tried all channels. All I asked was a simple humanitarian gesture. And it was denied.”
Alan Gross is a U.S. citizens and a contractor for USAID jailed in Cuba since December 3rd, 2009. His crime was bringing cell-phone and internet equipment into Castro’s fiefdom to help Cuba’s tiny Jewish community communicate more freely with the outside world. For the record: pre-Castro Cuba boasted more phones and TVs per capita than most European countries. Today Castro’s fiefdom has fewer internet users per-capita than Uganda and fewer cell-phones than Papua New Guinea. The Stalinist regime is very vigilant in these matters.
According to the AP: “The case has crippled attempts to improve relations between Washington and Havana, and destroyed what had been a warm relationship between Richardson and Cuban leaders.”
“Step aside, you squares!” Richardson had always smirked. “I’m friends with the bad**ses!—with the hoods! They really, really, like me down there in Cuba. They think I’m cool! And let me into their little gang!” We all remember such people from high-school (and probably from long afterwards.) The Beach Boys knew the feeling: “My buddies and me are getting real well known.Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone. I get around.”
Well, Bill Richardson (and by inference, his Obama Administration handlers) “got left alone” by the bad boys alright—and during an entire week of knocking on diplomatic doors in Cuba. “Thrown under the bus,” Beltwayers might call it.
Shortly came the “he said, she said” regarding the trip. To wit:
She (Josefina Vidal, Castro regime spokesperson as related by the AP) said: "The release of U.S. citizen jailed in Cuba, Alan Gross, was never on the table during the preparations for his trip, which was made clear to Mr. Richardson as soon as he raised it."
It WAS TOOOOO! whines Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos: "The Cubans are making flimsy excuses only after they personally invited Gov. Richardson to discuss the Alan Gross detention and only after they inexplicably stonewalled Governor Richardson."
It WAS NOT! Answers Josefina Vidal: "His request to see the prisoner became impossible due to his slanderous statements to the press in which he described Gross as a 'hostage' of the Cuban government,"
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.