June 12th, 2014
05:06 PM ET

Time to rethink 'concession' mentality on Cuba

By Ric Herrero, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Ric Herrero is the executive director of #CubaNow, a Miami-based democracy advocacy group. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Late last month, 44 former high-level U.S. officials and thought leaders, including prominent members of the Cuban-American community, signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to revise our Cuba policy to allow Americans to better engage with the island’s growing civil society, particularly its fledgling entrepreneurial sector.

The logic behind the letter is simple: by empowering the Cuban people with more access to U.S. contacts and resources, they can create greater freedoms for themselves.

Unfortunately, that concept appears to be too difficult to understand for those who depend on keeping things just the way they are. Almost immediately, the predictable responses began to flow from a tag team of shrill hardliners in Washington DC and Havana, all trying to protect the status quo.

In Washington, the pro-embargo lobby – or what is left of them – began to mischaracterize the letter as a “concession” to the regime, and cherry picked quotes by some dissidents and exile leaders to make it seem as if there is widespread opposition to increasing support for Cuban civil society.

In Havana, the supposed beneficiaries of these “concessions” reacted in equally predictable fashion. As they’ve done every time there’s been a potential thaw, the Cuban regime’s hardliners are going out of their way to thwart political momentum in the U.S. for a new approach. Let’s face it, one of the regime’s favorite strategies is to blame American policy for all of their own shortcomings. It has helped them stay in power. If they wanted better relations, they would release Alan Gross, or stop beating up the Ladies in White, or cease detaining pro-rights activists, or loosen customs and import restrictions. They haven’t, of course, because like the hardliners here, they want everything their way.

Both sides have something else in common – they will twist anything to fit their view of the world, even when it makes no sense. Washington hardliners are quick to pose for photo ops or send press releases praising the bravery of Cuban activists. Yet by denying those activists real support, and refusing to accept that civil society needs economic resources to thrive, they are doing them a disservice.

To suggest that an increase in the flow of contacts and resources to the Cuban people is a “concession” to the Castro brothers plays directly into the hands of the most unyielding forces within the Cuban government. As WLRN’s Tim Padgett noted last month, "Incredibly, [hardliners] somehow convinced themselves that denying Cuba’s fledgling entrepreneurs more seed money, cell phones and sage advice – that keeping them in the micro-economic Middle Ages – is the best way to change Cuba." It isn’t.

The “concessions” talking point might be a cute sound bite, but it’s wrong. For decades, the American people have been force-fed the baseless notion that any reform of Cuba policy, no matter how practical, is tantamount to rewarding the regime for its iron grip over the island.

In fact, easing the embargo to support the island’s nascent entrepreneurial class puts more pressure on the Cuban regime to respect human rights because they have a stronger independent private sector and civil society with which to contend. And if the argument from hardliners is that we should not support entrepreneurs because there can be no private sector without rights, then that would mean we couldn’t support dissidents either. We must do both.

Dissidents are battling to create a better and more inclusive future where their families and fellow Cubans can be free. They do so in simple but powerful ways – a peaceful street protest, a petition tens of thousands strong, a blog post, an independent media outlet. The same logic applies to self-employed entrepreneurs, and to every single Cuban seeking to increase their independence from the state, whether they are a hairdresser, a computer programmer, or a taxi driver.

Entrepreneurs may not be allowed to legally incorporate, or to have foreigners legally “invest” in their businesses, but they are fighting every day to gain these rights. How? By using remittances, mostly from the United States, as seed capital. By hiring and paying salaries far above those of state workers. By taking government officials to court over zoning, licensing and property disputes. They are conjuring every creative interpretation of Cuban law to scale their businesses or press for new categories of self-employment that were previously prohibited. We should encourage that, not stand in its way.

After 54 years it’s time to call a spade a shovel. The only real concession the United States can make to the Cuban regime is to continue to treat Castro’s favorite propaganda tool as a sacred cow. We can do better.

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Topics: Cuba

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. George patton

    It's those cursed hard liners in Washington that are causing 96per cent of this country's problems. It's not enough that they want continue our hard line policy toward Cuba and mess up this nation's economy, now they want to drag us back into Iraq!!!

    June 12, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  2. humbertocapiro

    Ric Herrero! Been wanting for you to answer this question and have posted it on several articles you have written but you have refused to answer it so here I go again!.
    Question: Did you get prior approval from Yoani Sanchez to use her image on your NYC subway campaign? If so can you provide proof? Have read several people say in comments who know Yoani that you did not. Also, why does CubaNow, your group not disclosing who are your funders? If you were more transparent you would have more respect dear!

    June 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Reply
    • walterlx

      Yoani Sanchez is a public figure. Here are her words:

      End the Embargo, End Castro Regime's Excuse for All Its Failures
      Posted: 10/25/11 01:19 PM ET

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/cuba-embargo_b_1029826.html

      June 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Reply
      • humbertocapiro

        Walter Lippman! YOANI IN HER OWN WORDS! SEE VIDEO DEAR!
        NO QUIERO QUE EL EMBARGO SE LEVANTE SIN CONDICIONES/I DONT WANT THE EMBARGO LIFTED WITHOUT CONDIIONS – Yoani Sanchez
        Casa Blanca: Yoani Sánchez da detalles de entrevista con legisladores cubanoamericanos
        Publicado 20 marzo 2013. La bloguera Yoani Sánchez se reunió hoy con legisladores cubanoamericanos en Washington. Como parte de la visita a la capital estadounidense la laureada periodista visitó también la Casa Blanca. Karen caballero conversó con Yoani durante su visita a la residencia presidencial.

        http://www.martinoticias.com/media/video/20699.html

        June 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
      • Julia M Cruz

        Doing the same thing over & over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. The embargo has not worked for 55+ years, why does anyone expect a different result? Maybe those who oppose ending the embargo don't want it to end. Do we think the people living in the island of Cuba are that much different from those in the former USSR and East Germany? Are people anywhere on earth that different from each other? We want to same basic things out of life: safety for ourselves & our loved ones, ability to learn & grow as our abilities & interests allow, enough resources to keep our families healthy & thriving. A pair of shoes with good soles would be nice but not as important as the others. End the embargo of ideas and of goods openly.
        If the people living in the island like the way they are living, they can continue the same way. US citizens of Cuban origin can take their families to their childhood sites without using some false pretext for traveling such as humanitarian trip or religious inter-faith sharing. Other US citizens who are interested in seeing the island that has been closed to them for more than 60 yrs can visit & bring income to the island in the same way that European visitors have been doing for decades.
        If the people living in the island embrace being able to reach international news without government interference,
        if they enjoy reading any book printed electronically or in paper as they wish,
        if they thrive in being able to see the cousins that left the island years ago,
        if someone in their family can have a new calibrated eyeglasses for their families even if they have no one outside the island who can send those goods to them, they will make their decisions known and the regime that has ruled by constraint will fail from within.
        Ending the embargo is not a concession. But it may be a concession stand (a la Lucy of "Peanuts") with advice & 21st century equivalent of lemonade.
        If the current way of life & thinking in Cuba is so good,
        what does the Cuban government has to fear?
        If the current way of life & thinking is so bad in Cuba,
        what do the hard liners in the US have to fear?
        Support ending the embargo now; unless, of course, you are insane.

        August 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
    • humbertocapiro

      Walter Lippman (walterlx)! DID YOU TELL ALL THESE NICE PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE PART OF THE "CUBAN 5" SUPPORT GROUP IN LOS ANGELES WHERE WE BOTH LIVE DEAR? BUT WALTER, ALAN GROSS IS NOT A SPY, IT'S APPLES TO ORANGES DEAR!

      N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

      Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

      Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.

      June 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Reply
      • LAURENCE Daley

        Humberto:

        !Bien dicho!

        Larry

        June 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • walterlx

        Alan Gross is in Cuban custody. The three Cubans are in US custody.

        Cuba wants to negotiate a humanitarian solution to this situation by trading them

        Why is humbertocapiro opposed to such a negotiated resolution?

        SUGGESTION: Read what the Jewish Daily Forward has to say about this:

        http://forward.com/articles/200079/why-isnt-alan-gross-on-next-plane-home-after-bowe/

        June 16, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • humbertocapiro

      Walter Lippman! I SEE YOU ARE USING THE SAME TACTIC OF DEMONIZING THE MESSENGER THAT THE CASTRO AGENTS USE! ARE YOU ONE OF THEM DEAR! ALAN GROSS IS NOT A SPY, HE SHOULD BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY!! FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN IN JUST ABOUT EVERY COMMENT SECTION OF ARTICLES ABOUT HIM TRYING TO DEFAME AND ACCUSE HIM OF THINGS HE DID NOT DO! THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SHOULD STOP ALL TRIPS BY US CITIZENS AND REMITTANCES! THE CASTROS ARE AGAINST THE ROPES BECAUSE OF THEIR ECONOMY AND THIS IS THE TIME TO PUSH FOR ALAN GROSS RELEASE! PUNTO! TELL THESE NICE PEOPLE WHY THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS HAS BEEN UNABLE TO INTERVIEW ALAN GROSS IN 4 YEAR DEAR! THE CASTRO MAFIA IS PLAYING AN EXTORTION PLAN ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WITH A CIVILIAN! THAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE!
      NBC NEWS: American jailed in Cuba wants US to sign 'non-belligerency pact' to speed release – By Michael Isikoff
      Kornbluh, who has advocated closer U.S.-Cuba dialogue, was in Havana last week to attend a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. He was granted permission to visit Gross by Cuban officials. (The Cubans so far have denied all news media requests to meet with him.) He said Gross was most upset about being unable to return home to see members of his family who are ill, especially his 90-year-old mother in Texas who has cancer.

      http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/02/15620342-american-jailed-in-cuba-wants-us-to-sign-non-belligerency-pact-to-speed-release?lite

      June 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm | Reply
      • walterlx

        No one is demonizing the messenger. It's only a simple question of why not trade the three Cubans for the US agent?

        Why Isn't Alan Gross on Next Plane Home After Bowe Bergdahl?
        Both Men Worked for the United States — But Only One Is Free

        READ THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD'S VIEW:
        Read more: http://forward.com/articles/200079/why-isnt-alan-gross-on-next-plane-home-after-bowe/#ixzz34vDgzpwx

        June 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  3. chri§§y

    Yep @ George, and they pretty much have Obama's hands tied on the issue. Another damned if he does and damned if he doesnt scenario! He cant win no matter which way he goes!

    June 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      In that case chrissy, maybe he'd better just do the right thing and normalize relations with Cuba. I would!

      June 12, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  4. Walter Teague

    Seems you wanted to criticize the pro-embargo hardliners, so you just assert that the Havana side responded similarly. "the predictable responses began to flow from a tag team of shrill hardliners in Washington DC and Havana, all trying to protect the status quo." What responses?

    Again you assert an equivalence, "Almost immediately, the predictable responses began to flow from a tag team of shrill hardliners in Washington DC and Havana," but state none. Seems to me you don't want to admit it is the Miami and Washington hardliners who are unilaterally digging in their heels.

    June 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  5. chri§§y

    Agree @ Joseph...however i was referring to the issue in Iraq!

    June 12, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  6. chri§§y

    And you know the "pro embargo lobby" is made up of the egotrippinmaniacs in Congress so they arent gonna just let Obama do the right thing! Thats not part of their program...the right thing i mean.

    June 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  7. walterlx

    No one complained in 2010, when President Obama traded ten Russian agents caught here for four Russians caught spying on behalf of Washington over there. Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State at the time.

    Now Washington should trade those three Cuban agents for Alan Gross, the US contractor for the US Agency for International Development caught bringing in illegal high-tech telecommunications gear which was part of Washington's "regime change" operation against Cuba.

    Cuba is ready to negotiate such a trade. It has said so openly for years now.

    Trading is good. It could and would reduce tensions between our two countries.

    Walter Lippmann
    Los Angeles, California

    June 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • greg

      Thank you, walterix. I couldn't agree more!

      June 13, 2014 at 7:52 am | Reply
    • humbertocapiro

      Walter Lippman (walterlx)! DID YOU TELL ALL THESE NICE PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE PART OF THE "CUBAN 5" SUPPORT GROUP IN LOS ANGELES WHERE WE BOTH LIVE DEAR? BUT WALTER, ALAN GROSS IS NOT A SPY, IT'S APPLES TO ORANGES DEAR!

      N.Y. TIMES: Senators Urge Castro to Release American – By JONATHAN WEISMAN – February 24, 2012

      Mr. Gross, a Maryland resident, was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his arrest in 2009 while serving on a democracy-building project financed by the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Gross, who was accused of bringing satellite and other communications equipment to Cuba, was convicted of crimes against the state, not espionage. Cuban authorities “do not consider Alan Gross a spy,” Mr. Leahy said.

      Mr. Gross had traveled to Cuba five times in 2009 under his own name before his arrest.

      June 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Reply
      • walterlx

        The Cuban Five came to the US to monitor right-wing Cuban exile terrorists. Three remain in jail.
        Alan Gross when to Cuba as part of Washington's "regime change" operations. He remains in jail.

        The Cubans are ready, willing and able to resolve this problem by exchanging their one for Washington's three.
        Alas, exile militants want Alan Gross to remain involuntarily in Cuba for the duration of his sentence.

        Here's what Cuba says it's willing to do:

        http://english.juventudrebelde.cu/international/2014-04-10/declaration-by-minrex-about-the-alan-gross-case/

        Why do these Miami Militants (not an athletic franchise) want Gross to remain in Cuban custody?

        June 13, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • humbertocapiro

        Walter Lippman! YOU SHOULD NOT LIE DEAR! THE FACTS ARE ONLINE ! THE "CUBAN 5" SPIED ON US MILITARY INSTALLATIONS DEAR!
        FILED U.S. COURT OF APPEALS ELEVENTH CIRCUIT – JUNE 4, 2008 – THOMAS K. KAHN CLERK
        Five agents of the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence who were members of La Red Avispa (in English, “The Wasp Network”) challenge their convictions and sentences for their espionage against the military of the United States and Cuban exiles in southern Florida. A special mission of the Cuban network, Operacion Escorpion, lead to the murder of four men when Cuban military jets shot down two private aircraft over international waters in 1996. Each Cuban agent was convicted of espionage charges, and one agent was convicted of conspiracy to murder, following a trial in Miami that lasted more than six months. Our Court, en banc, affirmed the denial of the Cuban agents’ motions for a change of venue and a new trial and remanded this appeal to this panel for consideration of the remaining issues. United States v. Campa, 459 F.3d 1121, 1154–55 (11th Cir. 2006) (enbanc). The Cuban agents raise a host of issues on appeal. The Cuban agents challenge rulings about the suppression of evidence from searches conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, sovereign immunity, discovery of information under the Classified Information Procedures Act, the exercise of peremptory challenges, alleged prosecutorial and witness misconduct, jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence in support of their convictions, and several sentencing issues. We conclude that the arguments about the suppression of evidence, sovereign immunity, discovery, jury selection, and the trial are meritless, and sufficient evidence supports each conviction. We also affirm the sentences of two defendants, but we remand in part for resentencing of the other three defendants.

        http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200117176.opn3.pdf

        June 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
  8. chri§§y

    You would think they would know trading was good wouldnt you @ Walter? But they haven't gotten the name "obstructionists" by playing nice!

    June 12, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    It would be greatly to the the advantage of the people of Cuba to overthrow the communist government by the same violent means that they employed to install that hopeless system, yet Cuba's people do not do that.
    The people of Cuba made no "concessions" to successful capitalists when the people wanted the capitalists' money and property.
    I used to think that Cubans had a taste for revolution. Maybe not.

    June 13, 2014 at 7:56 am | Reply
    • walterlx

      History has shown that people don't opt for revolution unless no other option for change is available to them.

      There was no non-violent way to get rid of the military dictatorship which overthrew the democratically-elected government of Carlos Prio Socarras on March 10, 1952. Washington immediately backed the Batista regime.

      Washington orchestrated the military overthrow of the democratically-elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954. This was well-before Fidel Castro came in.

      Washington embraced a military coup in Brazil in 1964.

      Washington helped orchestrate the Pinochet coup and dictatorship which overthrew democratically-elected Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.

      Washington made no objection to a short-lived coup against democratically-elected Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002.

      Washington quickly embraced a coup more recently in Honduras which overthrew democratically-elected government of Manuel Zalaya in 2008.

      Washington has not shown much enthusiasm for democracy when the governments democratically-selected by the people have proven to be inconvenient for Washington's purposes.

      Walter Lippmann
      Los Angeles, California

      June 13, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
      • humbertocapiro

        BOOK & SURVEY : Political Disaffection in Cuba’s Revolution and Exodus – Silvia Pedraza – Cambridge University Press
        Cuba’s Refugees: Manifold Migrations
        The triumph of the Cuban revolution was one of the most popular political events of the 20th century. A social movement that the majority of the Cuban population initially applauded, and for which many risked their lives, the Cuban revolution had the capacity to capture the imagination of most of its citizens. Romantic in its execution, expressing a call for social justice, it had vast international support. Yet by the end of the century, 40 years later, a very sizable proportion of the Cuban population had left for other lands.Working both with U.S. and Cuban statistics, Antonio Aja- D´ıaz (2006) of the Center for Migration Studies at the University of Havana estimates that between 1959 and 2004 roughly 1,359,650 Cubans left Cuba for various countries and by different means. Because the Cuban population has grown from 5.8 million at the time of the 1953 census to 9.7 million at the 1981 census and 11.2 million in 2000 (Mart´ınez-Fern´andez 2003a), that number probably represents from 12 to 15 percent of the Cuban population. Certainly, it is larger than the population of Cuba’s second largest city – Santiago de Cuba – at present. This study captures the process of political disaffection – the disappointment and sense of betrayal – that led so many Cubans, many of them ardent supporters of the revolution initially, to leave their homeland for other lands.

        http://books.google.com/books?id=DjisAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=members+of+batista+army+in+exile+cuban&source=bl&ots=K7D0Ptnw40&sig=UqTlrMYPIOA8are9qhtEcqPkDCg&hl=en&ei=A4CsTonZEZKBsgKgzKDrDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

        June 13, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Carlos M.

    The real question for Washington (and anyone else who wants to see change in Cuba) is what is the most effective approach. It is clear that the embargo will never create regime change in Cuba.

    It is also clear that as Cuba slowly improves economically there has been an emerging class of self-employed people and an increase in personal freedoms. This includes access to the internet (even if only accessible to a small percentage), removal of exit visas, access to tourist hotels and cell phones, email on cell phones, the ability to buy and sell cars and property, and more tolerance of people voicing their complaints (I'd like to see Yoani Sanchez operate her online magazine from Cuba 20 years ago). Hardliners will say that this should be the norm and it doesn't go far enough (which is true), but the fact is these are real on the ground changes brought about by "improving" economic conditions and economic freedoms of the population, not by hurting the population economically.

    The embargo will never bring Cuba to its knees, so its time to give up and have a more productive approach. If the US engages Cuba and its people and allows Cuba to develop quicker, especially on the private business front, positive change will be inevitable.

    It's time to move past the hardliners and their punitive "we want give an inch" approach.

    June 13, 2014 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Well posted, Carlos. I fully agree.

      June 13, 2014 at 11:12 am | Reply
  11. walterlx

    It would be possible to start positive change by eliminating a key source of tension immediately:

    Obama has been looking for ways to reduce the overcrowded prison population of the US. If Obama would trade those three Cubans Washington is holding for Alan Gross, that United States AID contractor-agent whom the Cubans are holding, a big step in the right direction would be taken. It wouldn't cost the US anything. And the three have PERFECT disciplinary records in prison since their arrests in 1998.

    Next step would be to allow Cuba and Cubans to sell their products to the US. Today Cuba can buy from the US, but it cannot sell anything TO the US. That's not right or fair. A fair and balanced approached would do so much better.

    June 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • humbertocapiro

      Walter Lippman! WHY DID THE CASTRO "GOVERNMENT" NOT ALLOW THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS ON THE COURTROOM FOR ALAN GROSS' TRIAL AND SUBSEQUENT APPEALS DEAR?
      NPR : In Cuba, Jailed American Alan Gross Faces Trial

      BLOCK: Now, foreign journalists, I understand, are not allowed into the courtroom to cover the trial. You were outside the courthouse today. What were you able to learn there?

      MIROFF: That's right. He's being tried in a small municipal courthouse far away from the city center.

      http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134272743/In-Cuba-Jailed-American-Faces-Trial

      June 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • walterlx

        It's time to negotiate a resolution to this problem, just as was done with Bowe Bergdahl.

        Consider what the Jewish Daily Forward has been saying:

        http://forward.com/articles/200079/why-isnt-alan-gross-on-next-plane-home-after-bowe/

        June 16, 2014 at 11:10 am |
      • humbertocapiro

        Walter Lippman! ALAN GROSS IS NOT A SPY! THE CASTRO "GOVERNMENT" HAS NEVER SHOWN ANY PHOTOS OF THE EVIDENCE NOR IS THERE TRANSCRIPT OF ANY OF THE COURT PROCEEDINGS! THIS IS TYPICAL CASTRO KANGAROO JUSTICE! AND ALAN GROSS IS NOT THE ONLY ONE!
        HAVANA TIMES: Cuba Tries Canadian Businessman – by Cafe Fuerte
        The trial of Canadian entrepreneur Cy Tokmakjian, arrested more than two years ago on corruption charges in Cuba, has been underway since June 9th in a Havana court and is expected to extend for at least two weeks, said sources related to the case. “The allegations and charges brought by the Cuban authorities against Tokmakjian Group are completely unfounded, which the defense will clearly demonstrate,” said Lee Hacker, Tokmakjian family spokesman and vice president of finance of the company.

        However, Haker said that there are serious concerns about the lack of due process, transparency and independence of the Cuban judicial system, leading the family to fear that the trial’s outcome is already determined.

        Tokmakjian, 74, is charged along with 16 others involved in the operations of his company registered in Cuba, the powerful Tokmakjian Group. The trial takes place behind closed doors, with limited access to relatives of the accused.

        The source said representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Havana attended the hearings last week.
        However, the trial looks designed not only to solve one of the biggest corruption cases involving foreign companies in Cuba over the last decade, but also to find a solution to the difficult situation caused the government of Raul Castro by the indefinite detention without charges of Tokmakjian.
        “I think at this point in time what Cuba least needs are detentions and litigation with foreign businessmen and companies,” a diplomatic source requesting anonymity told CaféFuerte. “Having a businessman arrested for two and a half years without charges is not very exciting to the ears of investors.”

        CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

        http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=104320

        June 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
  12. ohama

    Who is Alan Gross?

    June 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  13. walterlx

    Alan Gross was a contractor for the US Agency for International Development who was caught bringing illegal high-tech telecommunications equipment into the island. Cuba is ready to trade him for three Cuban agents in the US.

    Here is some background on what he did and why he is where is where he is:
    From the French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique, in English:

    http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3338.html

    June 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
    • humbertocapiro

      Walter Lippman! SINCE YOU BELONG TO THE "CUBAN 5" SUPPORT GROUP IN LOS ANGELES WHERE WE BOTH LIVE, WHY DID ALAN GROSS HAVE THE SAME CUBAN ATTORNEY THAT "THE CUBAN 5" SPIES FAMILY HAD? I THINK THIS IS A KANGAROO TRIAL AND COURT AGAINST MR. GROSS DONT YOU?
      THE GUARDIAN UK: State Department asks Cuba to release US contractor on anniversary of arrest
      The attorney who visited Gross in jail, Armanda Nuria Piñero Sierra, was hired as Gross' lawyer and handled his trial and appeals. She also represents the families of five Cubans held in U.S. prisons, after being convicted in 2001 on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage against U.S. military installations, leading to the immediate speculation after Gross' arrest, that Cuba wanted to swap him for the five Cubans.

      CLICK LINK FOR ARTICLE!

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/03/state-department-cuba-alan-gross

      June 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • ohama

      Alan Gross’ heart seemed in the right place, but the wisdom of his Cuban mission can be debated. The people he was trying to help—the few Jews who remained in Castro’s Cuba after over 90 per cent fled the communist revolution—were mostly old Bolsheviks who couldn’t bring themselves to break with the old time religion. As mentioned, they and their descendants did their duty to the Castro regime by ratting out Alan Gross during judicial procedures perfectly mimicking those presided over by Andrei Vishinsky during The Great Terror’s show trials.

      http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/humberto-fontova/the-taliban-got-back-their-terrorists-now-castro-wants-his/#.U5-P3iIjb_Q.twitter

      June 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Reply
      • humbertocapiro

        ACTUALLY, SOME OF THE CUBAN JEWS AT ALAN GROSS' TRIAL SPOKE THE TRUTH! IS THE CASTRO "GOVERNMENT" WHO HAS LIED AND HAS NEVER PUBLISHED THE TRANSCRIPT! IF THEY EVER HAD THE COURAGE TO DO THEM!
        JTA: Op-Ed: Plea of Alan Gross’ wife to GA- By Judy Gross · November 9, 2011
        Believe it or not, one of the most touching aspects of his work in Cuba came through during Alan’s brief trial in Havana. The Cuban government called several witnesses from the Jewish community to testify about Alan. I’ll never forget one man’s testimony. He was an older gentleman; he had trouble getting up to the witness stand. When the prosecutor asked him what Alan showed him on the Internet, he became emotional.

        “We saw the world!” he cried out. He explained that Alan had used the Internet to show them places they had never seen before - pictures of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the city of London.

        And it is because of this humanitarian work that Alan is sitting in a jail cell today. That Alan has been convicted of crimes against the state of Cuba - and that he has been sentenced to 15 years in prison - for helping the Jewish community share prayers and look at images of Jerusalem is beyond any sense of reason. It is inhumane and it is unjust. Alan’s only intention was to help the small Jewish communities in Cuba. Nothing more. I believe that the Cuban authorities know this. They were at the same trial that I was; they heard the same testimony that I heard

        http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/11/09/3090210/op-ed-wife-of-alan-gross-makes-plea-to-ga

        June 17, 2014 at 1:03 am |
  14. humbertocapiro

    Walster Lippman! TELL THESE NICE PEOPLE THAT THE "CUBAN 5-2=3" WERE MORE THAT FIVE DEAR!
    WND NEWS: 'Wasp Network' stung in Miami Cuban spies 'wage war against the people of the U.S.' – by Toby Westerman – Published: 01/09/2001
    Five members of a 14-member espionage team called “La Red Avispa” — the Wasp Network — are on trial in a Miami federal courtroom following an exhaustive FBI investigation
    After breaking up the network’s operations in September 1998, the FBI amassed some 10,000 pages of information on the Cuban espionage cell. Federal agents discovered that, among other projects, the members of the spy network counted planes outside a military base, attempted to send a letter-bomb to an anti-Castro activist, and placed one of their number — employed as a custodian — at the Boca Chica base of the Southern Command to observe military activity there. Of the original 14, four fled and are believed to be in Cuba, five pleaded guilty and five have declared their innocence. Those pleading innocent said they were only keeping an eye on the anti-communist Cuban exiles. Although the ring was engaged in classic acts of espionage, those who pleaded guilty, as well as the defendants standing trial, are not facing charges of spying, but rather are being charged as “unregistered foreign agents.

    http://www.wnd.com/2001/01/7761/

    June 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Gee humbertocaprio, how much did the right-wing thugs in Washington pay you to post that nonsense above? Those five are being held on trumped up charges so are worthless politicians can be politically "correct".

      June 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Reply
      • humbertocapiro

        I GET PAID WHEN SOMEONE LIKE YOU CALLS THE INFORMATION I POST "NONSENSE" DEAR!

        June 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
  15. Name*vang8966

    Time to think of the Cuban people. What's good for them will be good for us. Cuba offers a lot to investors....

    June 13, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Good posting, Name*vang8966. Thank you.

      June 13, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  16. chri§§y

    Awesome website @ Walter!!!! And those pictures of Cuba are beeeuuuttteeeeful! And im not joking. I had no idea how beautiful Cuba really is. Thank you!

    June 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  17. chri§§y

    Ya know @ Humberto, stalking is against the law DEAR!

    June 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • humbertocapiro

      STALKING DEAR? AGAINST WHOM? DONT THINK THOSE WITH NO NAMES THAT CAN BE VERIFIED SHOULD CAST THE FIRST STONE DEAR!

      June 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  18. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Popularity is a blast!
    Don't miss the posts under my name in this thread. However, I did not write most of them.
    I remember the Cuban revolution well. I was a student, just at the age to be fascinated by communism (for some), and my friends and I though that revolting was a swell idea.
    Well, here we are now.
    So some of those Cubans want to keep the money they earn for themselves?
    Well, heck! What justice lies in that?

    June 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  19. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joey! Do you blame them? Lol. I did hear some time ago that US citizens were not supposed to vacation in Cuba but after seeing the photos on Walters website i sure would like to! And we have some of the finest baseball players thanks to Cuba. So it seems to me that rethinking policies with Cuba would be a positive thing.

    June 14, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  20. chri§§y

    I use my REAL name! But i wouldnt give it to YOU!

    June 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  21. nepabuleici

    While you discussed embargo and Gross affair it is like you are in the very far side of the background of History. Now changes in Cuba are taking place with Russian money and it does no matter, really, what you think about in the US (.It is to loose the time for nothing). Read the news about Cuba in the Russian press. I considered US are out of the game at this time in Cuba and have no choice to still make the case so to lift embargo, open to the business with Cuba and trade Aland Gross. Moreover, every day more and more non communist Latin-American countries are moving to the side of Cuba foreign policy and going far from US. .Read the Latin-American media and you will see the reality about what is happening with the US foreign policy in the backyard.

    June 16, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
  22. chri§§y

    A very good question! Why ARE you opposed to this Humberto?

    June 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  23. chri§§y

    Ok...youre up @ Walter...we will hear your reply now...what say you?

    June 17, 2014 at 12:29 am | Reply
  24. walterlx

    Alan Gross, an agent of the USAID's "regime change" program for Cuba, is in custody on the island for breaking Cuban law.
    Three Cuban agents are in US custody. Cuba is ready to trade them for Alan Gross. Washington refuses to trade. That is the reason Alan Gross remains in Cuba today. It is the ONLY reason Alan Gross is in Cuban custody today.

    Here's what the JEWISH DAILY JOURNAL has to say about this:

    http://forward.com/articles/200079/why-isnt-alan-gross-on-next-plane-home-after-bowe/

    June 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Reply
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