“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 3, 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 Associated Press (emphasis added): “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.”
The blame for this “crippling” is being disputed. Castro regime spokesperson Josefina Vidal was quoted by the AP as follows (emphasis added): “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.”
“The Cubans are making flimsy excuses,” replies Richardson’s spokesman, Gilbert Gallegos, “only after they personally invited Gov. Richardson to discuss the Alan Gross detention and only after they inexplicably stonewalled Governor Richardson.”
Last Tuesday, President Obama told reporters: “Anything to get Mr. Gross free we will support, although Mr. Richardson does not represent the U.S. government in his actions there.” Then the New York Times reported that, in fact, Richardson would offer to remove Cuba from the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. U.S. “tourists” do not generally carry such authority.
In fact, there’s little incentive for the Castro regime to comply with the Obama administration, which has been offering carrots aplenty, but without sticks. To wit: In executive order after executive order, Obama abolished President Bush’s travel and remittance restrictions to Castro’s terrorist-sponsoring fiefdom and opened the travel and remittance cash pipeline to a point where the cash-flow from the U.S. to Cuba today is estimated at $4 billion a year. While a proud Soviet satrapy, Cuba received $3-5 billion annually from the Soviets. But the Soviet subsidies came with strings attached. Nowadays, the cash-flow from the U.S. is essentially “free-money” for the Castro regime. So again: “What’s to improve?” the Castroites must be asking themselves.
As a public service for Gov. Richardson and the Obama State Department’s Cuba “experts,” I provide case studies of others who helped Castro consolidate power, then promptly exhausted their “usefulness.” Few revolutions have “devoured their own children” with the voracity of Castro and Che’s.
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