Democracia y Política

Five years on, indifference to Cuba still ‘puzzling and painful’?

cuba-alangross-270x300It’s been exactly five years since US government contractor Alan Gross was arrested in Havana and jailed for 15 years for committing “acts against the integrity of the state” – to build internet access for local communities that bypassed government censorship, bringing in satellite equipment that is illegal in Cuba, the BBC reports.

“It is gravely disappointing, especially in light of its professed goal of providing Cubans with internet access, that the Cuban government has not allowed Mr. Gross to return to his family, where he belongs,” the US State Department said today. “We reiterate our call on the Cuban government, echoing foreign leaders and even Cuba’s allies, to release Alan Gross immediately.

The Gross case has prompted calls for the Obama administration to re-engage the island’s Communist regime in a series of recent editorials in The New York Times.

But it’s worth noting that when an editorial writer from the newspaper met recently with prominent dissidents in Havana, they refuted the newspaper’s arguments, particularly the notion that it is up to the United States to take the initiative when, in reality, the Cuban government holds the keys to Mr. Gross’ cell door, notes The Miami Herald.

The meeting was later detailed in a report by independent journalist Yoani Sánchez, who was part of the group, in her online newspaper, 14ymedio.

“I have an idea,” said dissident Miriam Celaya. “The clearest and strongest action that the Cuban government could take is to liberate public opinion, to liberate the circulation of ideas. To let Cuban citizens speak out.”

Medical apartheid

The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jeanne Kirkpatrick, said that indifference to Cuba is “both a puzzling and a profoundly painful phenomenon of our times.”

A couple of days ago, New York Times editorialist Ernesto Londoño, who is visiting the island, wrote: “#Cuba prides itself on its medical system. Yet, I’ve been unable to find cold medicine or an aspirin for three days.”

“Londoño apparently tried to purchase aspirin and cold medicine at the pharmacies where the Cubans depend for their medicine,” notes a Cuban democracy group:

But Cuba has a system of medical apartheid and there is a system of international pharmacies especially designed for foreigners and tourists where Cubans are not allowed to enter. Sometimes Cubans hang around those international pharmacies with the money hoping that a foreigner would purchase the medicine they need for a sick relative.

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