|Alan Gross and his wife Judy|
I can readily believe that USAID might have commissioned such a project -- they are pretty open about their goals and funding programs -- but I can't get a fix on exactly what Gross allegedly brought in. I've read cryptic statements saying he brought:
- Sophisticated satellite communications equipment, Raúl Castro quoted in the Washington post
- Cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment, Marc Lacey and Ginger Thompson, NY Times
- BGAN Satellite ground stations, Elsa Claro, El Progresso
Cell phones and laptops are increasingly available in Cuba, so those he might have brought would not have made a significant difference.
What about BGAN ground stations, which can be used for clandestine Internet connectivity? I discussed the limited capability of BGAN equipment in a previous post -- a few BGAN ground stations would have no practical impact. (Elsa Claro speculated that they could be used for encrypted messages perhaps containing bombing coordinates, but so could any other IP-connected computer in Cuba -- see, for example, this post).
Without taking a position on the right or of the US and USAID to meddle in Cuban affairs, the efficacy of that meddling or Alan Gross' motives, it seems clear that what he allegedly tried to do would not have made a difference even if he had succeeded.