US Cuba Migration Talks Unnecessarily Hampered by Alan Gross Case

Jun 19, 2010, 14:33 ET from Fund for Reconciliation and Development

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y., June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The head of a US non-governmental organization that advocates normal relations between Cuba and the United States has called upon both countries to "climb down from their diplomatic high horses and to arrange for the release of Alan Gross without needless further delay." 

John McAuliff, founder and executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development asked, "Why doesn't former president Bill Clinton fly to nearby Havana to meet with President Raul Castro, just as he traveled around the world to North Korea and met with Kim Il-Sung to obtain the release of two Korean-American journalists.  In both cases local laws were clearly violated, but charges of espionage were a political exaggeration."

McAuliff said, "The purpose of yesterday's migration talks was distorted by the Alan Gross case.  An honest public dialogue is overdue of the reasons Havana arrested Gross and the steps that Washington will take to prevent the same thing from happening again."

McAuliff observed that, "the State Department's USAID and its contractor Development Alternatives Inc. put Gross in legal jeopardy and should honestly acknowledge what he was doing rather than hiding behind a cover story that he was an innocent aid worker only helping the Jewish community.  Cuba should bring its six month investigation to a close, issue a public account of the laws he violated and release him as a humanitarian gesture for time served."

"Both countries appear to have let a solvable secondary problem divert attention from the agenda of their meeting in Washington on Friday.  Opportunities are being lost for practical steps to advance mutual interests to control trafficking of illegal migrants and regional drug smuggling, hurricane monitoring, preventing and cleaning up oil spills, expanding consular operations and diplomatic access, as well as fostering people to people exchanges."

"It is preferable," McAuliff said, "that the US openly regret sending Gross and announce it will no longer use semi-covert government funding to support civil society organizations and opposition figures in Cuba in violation of the normal diplomatic protocol of host country approval.  Absent that, common sense dictates that in practice no more tax payer monies be wasted to reoccupy Alan Gross's prison cell."

The Fund for Reconciliation and Development is a 25 year old non-governmental organization based in Dobbs Ferry, New York.  It was active in efforts to normalize US diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  For more than a decade it has sought to accomplish the same with Cuba.

For additional background, recent posts by John McAuliff

SOURCE Fund for Reconciliation and Development