On December 3rd, 2009, Castro’s KGB-trained police arrested Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen working in Cuba on contract for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross has languished in a KGB-designed prison cell ever since. 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.
A reminder: Pre-Castro Cubans enjoyed some of the most advanced communications systems in the world. In 1958 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.
By the way, introducing cutting-edge communications equipment into Cuba didn’t always land Americans in torture chambers. In 1957 ATT presented Cuban “Dictator” (according to every media mention) Fulgencio Batista with a Golden Telephone for his regime’s enthusiastic welcome of all of their latest technology. This Cuban “dictator” reveled in the fact that Cubans had better, more abundant and cheaper means of communications than most Europeans. You might recall the scene from Goldfather II where Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone pass the Golden telephone around Batista’s conference table. This one scene contains an element of historically accuracy.
In March 2011, after he had lost almost 100 pounds from his prison ordeal, a Castroite court finally got around to actually trying their American hostage Alan Gross. They condemned him to a prison sentence of 15 years for working for an agency of the U.S. government “that aimed to destroy the Revolution through the use of communication systems out of the control of authorities.”
And there’s the hitch: “control of the authorities.” Not even Gadaffi’s late regime, or Assad’s in Syria or Hu Jintau’s in China seek to control cell-phone and internet access.
Censor? Absolutely. But outright control of all means of communication is a fetish peculiar to Communists, which no longer applies to the mainland Chinese regime, though it certainly remains despicable and dangerous. No “control-freaks” have ever shackled the human body and mind with the fanaticism and efficiency of Communists. The Castro regime, lest we forget, was founded in 1959. Essentially the same people are running it today as ran it then. Many of the Russians and Spanish Reds who designed Castro’s judicial and prison system had worked for Stalin.
Trotsky's murderer, Ramon Mercader, for instance, served as Cuba's "inspector of prisons" in the 1960's and was favorite companion of Raul Castro--and especially!—of the starstruck Che Guevara, who had appointed him to the prestigious post. Upon his death in Havana in 1978, the man who hacked Leon Trotsky to death with an ice-axe was buried with honors in the Cuban capitol. Later his ashes were transferred to Moscow.
Nonetheless, the Castro regime never suffered for lack of veneration from “Trotskyists.” Upon the 30th Anniversary of Che Guevara’s death Trotskyist Christopher Hitchens wrote in the New York Times that: “1968 actually began in 1967 with the murder of Che. His death meant a lot to me. He was a role model.” The famously erudite Hitchens was here referring the man who admired and befriended Trotsky’s murderer.
Senator Marco Rubio was among the first to comment on Alan Gross sentence: “With Mr. Gross’ sentencing, the Castro regime has effectively demonstrated the hopeless and dangerous naiveté of this administration’s policy toward the regime. The Obama administration’s insistence on moving forward with policies that put more money in this terrorist-sponsoring regime’s coffers is baffling and runs contrary to everything America should stand for.”
“When it is a question of annihilating the enemy,” pronounced Stalin’s chief prosecutor Andrei Vishinsky, “we can do it just as well without a trial.” Alan Gross was certainly “tried”-- but by some of Vishinsky’s most devoted disciples.
Former political prisoner Armando Valladares, who somehow escaped the firing squad but spent 22 torture-filled years in Cuba’s Gulag, described his trial very succinctly: “not one witness to accuse me, not one to identify me, not one single piece of evidence against me.” Senor Valladares was arrested in 1961 for the crime of refusing to display a pro-Castro sign on his desk. Shortly after his arrival on U.S. shores, Senor Valladares was appointed by Ronald Reagan as U.S. ambassador to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, a setting where both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara traditionally basked in wild ovations. Modern history records few U.S. diplomatic tweaks as slick, or U.S. ambassadors as effective.
On July 17, 2012 Armando Valladares published a letter to Alan Gross in The Daily Caller. Among its highlights:
Alan P. Gross
That is how I am compelled to address you, because even though we have never met, we share a common bond: I too lived behind the iron bars now surrounding you in Cuba — in my case for 22 years.
Like you, I was convicted by the Cuban authorities without a single shred of evidence against me.
I have no doubt that your greatest pain right now must be the realization that the U.S. government has turned its back on you. There was a time when the words “I am an American citizen” meant something. It gives me great sadness to say that inside the Communist boot that now tramples upon your dignity is the foot of the American president, Barack Obama.
The more Castro’s thugs oppress you and make your family suffer, the more your jailers torture you, the harder things get for you — the more this administration seeks to reward them with new concessions. Under any previous U.S. administration, Democrat or Republican, you would not still be in jail. The American president, who has made a habit of publicly bowing to foreign powers, bows to your torturers and would-be executioners. Meanwhile, the adult daughter of Cuba’s dictator recently visited the U.S. to applaud and show her support for President Obama. She receives a visa to come to the United States and a Secret Service escort. And you? You suffer the torture of imprisonment.
The Obama administration must step up its efforts to press for your release through its diplomatic channels. Should those diplomatic efforts fail, then they must be followed by real action, including the suspension of flights and remittances to Cuba until such time as you are allowed to return to the United States. If the Obama administration even threatened to do this it is my considered judgment that you would be on the next flight back to your home in Washington, D.C.
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.