Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alan Gross' talk at the National Press Club

Source: Local10.com

Alan Gross spoke at the National Press Club and answered questions about his years in prison in Cuba. Although I have been covering the technical and political aspects of his case for years, he said a number of things I had not heard before.

He spent the first year in prison confined to his cell and rarely saw daylight, but in subsequent years, after his "conviction," he had a number of visitors including his wife, Jimmy Carter, former president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez and "numerous U.S. elected officials from both sides of Congress and both sides of the aisle."

Gross said that Carter attempted to persuade Cuban President Raul Castro to free the contractor.

"I was visited by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, and President Carter told me that the night before our visit he had met with President Raúl Castro, who told him, 'Jimmy, I know that Alan is not a spy.' And President Carter said, 'Well Raúl, I have my plane with me (so) why don't you let me take him home?' And President Castro said, 'If I do that Jimmy, they'll run me out of town on a rail.' I don't think that sounds like a person who has total control over his government," Gross said.

When asked about the current situation, Gross replied that

"Normalization is not going to occur for many years, but all it took was a single step -- they say a journey of a thousand miles begins by the single step, and we've taken more than a single step -- not only in the United States, but in Cuba too. And to those members of Congress who said that Obama has been giving gifts to the Castro brothers, I would respond to that by saying the Castro brothers are totally irrelevant to Cuba's future."

You can download an audio recording of the talk here and read more quotes here.

Update 3/29/2016

These photos underscore Alan Gross' contention that the Castro brothers are no longer relevant. Crowds watching Obama drive by while Venezuelan President Maduro visits Fidel Castro -- the past and the future.

Neither Castro nor Obama wished to meet each other and Fidel criticized President Obama after he had left Cuba.

Update 5/17/2016

Alan Gross, who spent five years in prison in Cuba for bringing in portable satellite equipment, has given an interview in which he talks in some detail about what he did and did not do.

The video below shows a user setting up a portable satellite ground station like those Gross carried into Cuba. As you see, it is highly portable and is set up in about three minutes.

In the interview, Gross describes the moment at which you lock onto a satellite signal after adjusting the antenna alignment:
When you lock onto the satellite you've lit a candle. It's a feeling of elation. After I did it the first time, that's all I wanted to do. Go around the world lighting candles.
He's good man!

(For more on Alan Gross, what he did and the politics surrounding his eventual release, click here).

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