In a dramatic segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes titled “The Last Prisoner of the Cold War,” former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) subcontractor Alan Gross tells of horrifying experiences in captivity: “They threatened to hang me, they threatened to pull out my fingernails, they said I’d never see the light of day.”
Gross portrays a harrowing ordeal. He purports to have feared for his safety and his life, as if he was chained in a medieval dungeon at the whims of an arbitrary monarch. This description likely sounds credible to many Americans who view the Cuban government as their own government and media have portrayed it for the last 55 years: a totalitarian dictatorship with no respect for human rights or the rule of law.
The opportunistic Gross, who earned more than $500,000 from his work for USAID, undoubtedly understands that he could cash in on the American public’s preconceptions of Cuba by dramatizing his experience there. Perhaps this occurred to Gross during his imprisonment, when he told a second cousin that “when he comes back he’s going to have a big book deal.” One might even venture to guess his 60 Minutes interview might be an audition for such a pay day.
Such nightmarish conditions have certainly been documented in Cuba. Whistleblowers have described “sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution … torturous shackling, positional torture” and other practices – in Guantanamo Bay, by U.S. military personnel on detainees kidnapped and held indefinitely without charges or due process.
In the rest of Cuba, which is governed by the Revolutionary regime, such stories are virtually unheard of. Professor and author Salim Lamrani compared human rights reports among Latin American countries and found many credible accusations of torture, but for Cuba he observed: “Not a single case of torture against prisoners is noted by Amnesty International. It has to be emphasised that of all the reports by Amnesty about the countries of Latin America, the report on Cuba is by far the least condemnatory.”
“Since the year 1959, there has not been one single case of extra-judicial execution, enforced disappearance or torture,” stated Maria Esther Reus, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Cuba, in the Cuban government’s presentation to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “The prison system constitutes an example of Cuba’s humanism. Cuba has developed programmes that are directed towards transforming prisons into schools. The goal is to ensure that human beings who have served their sentences are fully reintegrated into society.”
While the latest Amnesty report on Cuba notes that the government has not granted permission for a visit by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Cuba is far from alone.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur himself noted in his latest report that the U.S. government had not allowed him access to the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Additionally, he has not been granted access to visit U.S. federal and state prisons. He did not mention the Cuban government at all in the report.
Gross’s Covert Mission
Narrating the 60 Minutes segment, Scott Pelley says, “Gross was hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID is America’s charity, delivering aid all around the world. But in Cuba its mission was different. USAID asked Gross to set up independent internet connections for the Jewish community. Only five percent of Cubans were online. But bypassing government censorship was illegal.”
Actually, according to the World Bank, 14.3 percent of Cubans had internet access in 2009 when Gross was imprisoned. This number has more than doubled over the last six years as the Cuban government has expanded internet access through programs such as public WiFi zones. Of course, this was done independently without any help from the U.S. government or subcontractors like Gross working on their behalf.
Pelley’s claim that Gross’s mission was merely to help the Jewish community in Cuba obtain internet access is easily debunked. During each of his five trips to Cuba, Gross traveled under a tourist visa and represented himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, rather than an agent of the U.S. government. Jewish leaders in Cuba said they already had access to the internet, and were not aware of Gross’s connections to the U.S. government.
An Associated Press investigation discovered that Gross was well aware the misrepresentation of his activities in the country put him at serious risk. The AP quotes Gross saying that “(t)his is very risky business in no uncertain terms,” and “(d)etection of satellite signals will be catastrophic.”
Gross’s employer, Development Alternative, Inc. (DAI), had received a $28 million contract from USAID to carry out a democracy project in 2008. Tracey Eaton writes in his Along the Malecón blog that “Gross said in court documents he was coordinating some of his activities with the Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, another organization that had received U.S. government funds to try to hasten Cuba’s transition to democracy.”
In a memo to DAI, Gross wrote that the “ICTs Para la Isla pilot project” was designed to “lay a practical groundwork (emphasis in original) that will facilitate and enable the better management of larger-scale and more comprehensive transition-to-democracy initiatives.” Therefore, Gross’s mission was clearly political, rather than humanitarian. His professed mission to help Jewish groups was merely a cover for his clandestine activities on behalf of a government whose official policy for more than half a century has been the replacement of the Revolutionary government in Cuba.
Gross was bringing into the country highly sophisticated computer equipment including satellite phones and a mobile phone chip to disguise satellite signals. Cuban law prohibits importing such equipment without legal authorization.
60 Minutes’ claim that “Cuban authorities locked (Gross) up for helping its citizens get unrestricted Internet access” is at best a vast oversimplification, if not an outright fabrication. In reality, Gross was convicted under Cuba’s Article 11 of Law 88, “Protection of National and Economic Independence.”
The law stipulates imprisonment of 3 to 8 years for anyone who “directly or through a third party, receives, distributes or participates in the distribution by financial means, materials or of another nature, proceeds of the Government of the United States, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, functionaries or other private entities.”
As Lamrani points out, “(t)his severity is not unique to Cuban legislation. US law prescribes similar penalties for this type of crime. The Foreign Agents Registration Act prescribes that any un-registered agent ‘who requests, collects, supplies or spends contributions, loans, money or any valuable object in his own interest’ may be liable to a sentence of five years in prison.”
Gross’s Detainment and Treatment By Cuban Authorities
Gross was held not in a regular prison but in a military hospital for the duration of his detainment. Cuban authorities not only took pains to ensure Gross was granted appropriate medical care, but were extremely accommodating to allow him time with his wife Judy.
It seems unlikely that Gross was abused or mistreated while serving his sentence. According to the Associated Press, Gross’s lawyer Jared Genser said Judy “arrived in Cuba on Sept. 5 (2012) and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign that Gross is being ill-treated.” He also told the AP “(Gross) is being treated fine.”
Gross, who suffered from arthritis, lost significant weight while held in confinement and developed a mass in his shoulder. He was treated by Cuban medical staff, and there is no evidence poor conditions contributed to his medical issues.
New York rabbi and gastroenterologist Elie Abadie was allowed to visit Gross in the military hospital, where he determined “through the exam he personally performed and also through the extensive information supplied by the team of Cuban doctors who have attended (Gross)” that Gross was in a good state of health.
Gross petitioned to see his mother before she passed away from cancer, but as Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Josefina Vidal noted: “neither the Cuban penitentiary system nor the U.S. penitentiary system provide the possibility for inmates to travel abroad, no matter the reason.” The week after his mother died, Gross’s wife was allowed to visit him again in Cuba.
The Obama Administration’s Rejection of Cuba’s Humanitarian Proposal
In early 2014, Gross began a hunger strike because of what he called “mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments … because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal.” He ended his hunger strike a week later, stating he would not resume his protest “when both governments show more concern for human beings and less malice toward each other.”
Despite Gross assigning blame to both governments, there is ample evidence that the Cuban government made much more than a reasonable effort to resolve his case, while it was the U.S. government – alone – that refused do so.
Two years earlier in 2012, the highest ranking Cuban diplomat in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, had proposed a prisoner swap of Gross for the Cuban Five (more on them shortly). Bolaños expressed his government’s desire to “find a humanitarian solution to the case on a reciprocal basis.” But the Obama administration flatly said no, and continued to unilaterally demand Gross’s release without engaging the Cuban government on their offer.
On Dec. 17, 2014, the negotiated solution that freed Gross was the exact same deal the Cuban government had proposed three years earlier. It bears repeating that this offer was on the table all along and could have been agreed to by the Obama administration at any time.
If the agreement was fair last December, why was it not fair when it was first offered three years before? The U.S. government alone holds the blame – with Obama, as the head of his administration, owning the lion’s share – for rejecting a clearly reasonable offer that resulted in Gross remaining detained unnecessarily for two and a half extra years.
Without any controversy, the U.S. government could have secured his release before he developed health complications, before his mother died, and before he began his hunger strike. The U.S. government obstinately refused, continuously, for three years to even consider a deal that later appeared to be a no-brainer for both sides.
Faulting both governments for the delay in obtaining Gross’s release is asinine historical revisionism. It is merely an unmerited attempt to create a fictional balance based on the assumption that the U.S. government in its righteousness must be justified in its quarrels with other governments.
The Cuban Five
One cannot discuss the case of Alan Gross without at the same time discussing the aforementioned Cuban Five, who Gross was eventually swapped for. Unlike Gross, who was acting as a mercenary assisting the U.S. government carry out covert political operations, the members of the Cuban Five were fighting a very real threat of terrorism against the Cuban people emanating from the United States. Their operation was not in any way politically subversive, and did not interfere with the U.S. government’s sovereignty.
They were in Florida to infiltrate terrorist organizations and disrupt plots these groups were planning on Cuban territory. Thousands of Cubans have been killed by contra-revolutionary terrorism since 1959 by groups who enjoy safe haven inside the United States, including 73 people whose plane was blown up over the Caribbean in 1978 and an Italian man killed in a restaurant bombing in Havana in 1997. As author Stephen Kimber writes, if the roles were reversed and the Cuban Five were working for the U.S. government, they “would be American heroes.”
The Five – as they are known in their home country – were convicted on trumped up conspiracy charges. The group’s leader Gerardo Hernández was convicted on the most outrageous, unfounded charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He received two life sentences plus fifteen years.
By any objective comparison, the conditions the Cuban Five faced in confinement were far worse than those of Gross. Each member of the Five was held in solitary confinement for 17 months prior to trial. They spent nearly three years without being able to communicate with each other or their families. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in 2005 that “the depravation of liberty of these five persons” was “arbitrary.”
Olga, the wife of René González, and Adriana, the wife of Hernández, were denied visas to visit their husbands for 10 years, until after the Cuban government allowed Judy Gross to visit her husband. The U.S. government had previously deemed the Cuban wives “a threat to the stability and national security of the United States.”
Amnesty International stated its concern “that such a blanket or permanent bar on visits with their wives constitutes additional punishment and is contrary to international standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and states’ obligation to protect family life.”
González, the first member of the group to be paroled, was freed after 13 years.
The three members of the Five who were released in December 2014 had spent more than 16 years each in prison. That is, more than three times longer than Gross.
Needless to say, 60 Minutes does not make this comparison between Gross and the Cuban Five. But 60 Minutes – a standard bearer of American journalism – does achieve an important function of the American Free Press: demonizing official enemies while keeping the microscope away from one’s own government, lest any inconvenient analysis might raise doubts about their inherent superiority and benevolence.
On Monday, the Obama administration called for the immediate release of Jewish-American Alan Phillip Gross from Cuban imprisonment, saying his continued captivity for anti-state activities was “gravely disappointing”.
“Tomorrow, development worker Alan Gross will begin a fifth year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba. It’s gravely disappointing, especially in light of its professed goal of providing Cubans with internet access,” a US State Department said in a statement.
Allan Gross, earlier, asked President Barack Obama to get involved personally to get him released from Cuban jail. “Havana even agreed to meet US government officials, without any pre-conditions, to discuss possible terms leading to Gross’ release and his return home. But the State Department has rejected any negotiated settlement of Gross case out of hand,” claims Scott Gilbert, Alan Gross’ lawyer.
R.M. Schneiderman, editor and writer for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, wrote in the Foreign Affairs Magazine (December 21, 2012) that the single biggest reason Barack Obama cannot make peace with Cuba – is Alan Gross, a Jewish US citizen serving out a 15-year prison sentence in Havana. Cuban officials claim that Alan Gross was working for the US government and trying to subvert the state while working as a contractor in Cuba.
Tracey Eaton, a Cuban blogger, has claimed that Alan Gross was no contractor but a soldier serving the US government to bring regime change in Havana.
“Gross was a soldier, albeit of a different sort. Instead of the usual M9 pistol, he carried a Samsonite briefcase, plenty of cash and 15 credit cards. In place of a combat uniform and boots, he wore beige Land’s End pants and brown Rockport shoes. He spoke no Spanish, but was an experienced international development worker and had worked in such hotspots as Afghanistan and the Middle East. His weapon was technology. He traveled to Havana in 2009 with satellite communication gear, wireless transmitters, routers, cables and switches – enough to set up Internet connections and Wi-Fi hotspots that the socialist government would not be able to detect or control. He worked for Development Alternatives Inc., a Maryland contractor that USAID had hired to carry out a democracy-promotion program,” wrote Eaton.
The so-called Cuba-America Jewish Mission (CAJM) is the main source of information at the US State Department.
The Office of Foreign Assests Control (OFAC) within the US Treasury Department put Cuba on its list of countries allegedly sponsoring terrorism against the United States or Israel (incidently, America’s terrorist allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, India, etc. are not on the list) in 1982. Adam J. Szubin, a Zionist Jew, is the current director of OFAC. He is son of Rabbi Zvi Henry Szubin.
In September 2013, the UN General Assembly condemned the embargo against Cuba with 188 in favor and the US and Israel against it. Israel is the main culprit in using OFAC to starve countries which it doesn’t like, such as, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, Pakistan, etc. Israel fears that lifting of sanctions would trigger an international rush back into some these countries especially Iran and Sudan.
Cuba is home to 15,000 Jews. Before Fidel Castro established communist rule in Cuba in 1959, Cuba was considered very friendly to Jews and Israel under former dictator Fulgencio Batista (died 1973). Batista helped the World Zionist Movement in the airlift of 150,000 Jews from Iraq, Iran, Yemen and India to help European Jewish terrorist groups set-up Jewish settlements on Arab land during 1951-52. Cuban businessman Narciso V. Roselló Otero with Israeli connections sponsored those flights. Later he became President of the new Cuban airline Aerea de Cuba.
This isn’t “Everything You Wanted to Know About Alan Gross, But Were Afraid to Ask.” Unanswered questions about Gross abound more than three years after Cuban authorities nabbed him in Havana.
The Agency for International Development dispatched the American development worker to Cuba on a highly sensitive mission in 2009. Cuban authorities followed his movements at first, then arrested him and deposited him in jail. Discovering how he got there, ever so far from his home in Maryland, is a winding trail of money, bureaucracy and barely intelligible acronyms.
Below is a post aimed at answering some basic questions in the case and adding context to new details that emerged this month in court records, confidential memos and other documents (see links to source material at end of post).
Who hired Alan Gross?
A global development company, Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI, based in Bethesda, Md., and with offices in London, Islamabad and other cities. The company had revenue of nearly $300 million in 2012.
What’s DAI’s connection to USAID?
DAI is one of USAID’s top contractors. USAID has awarded more than $4 billion in contracts to DAI since 2000.
On Sept. 27, 2005, USAID signed a $25,000 contract with DAI as part of the agency’s “Instability, Crisis and Recovery Programs.”
The contract description shown in federal records is cryptic: CMM IQC.
What does that stand for?
CMM refers to the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation in USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance. The office works with USAID and its partners, along with the State Department and the Pentagon. “These new partnerships,” USAID says, have boosted the U.S. government’s ability to fight the “Global War on Terror.”
IQC is Indefinite Quantity Contract, an agreement that delivers an unspecified quantity of products or services.
What was DAI supposed to do?
USAID hired DAI to conduct “conflict and fragility” assessments, which involved:
- A review of risk factors in specific countries or regions
- The development of work plans
- Fieldwork and reports
- Planning and implementation of meetings and other duties.
What does that have to do with Cuba?
Under the 2005 contract, DAI became one of USAID’s go-to contractors for a range of tasks. So when USAID wanted to assign a sensitive Cuba project in August 2008, it turned to DAI.
What was that project called?
The Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program, or CDCPP.
How did Alan Gross get involved?
By 2008, Gross was in debt and had evidently been trying to land a Cuba-related contract for at least a year. He had been to the island before and knew key people who were handling U.S. government-financed projects in Cuba.
Key people? Any names?
Gross was in contact with Marc Wachtenheim, then director and founder of the Cuba Development Initiative at the Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, another big USAID contractor.
In 2004, Wachtenheim had asked Gross to deliver a video camera and other items to José Manuel Collera, former head of the Freemasons fraternal organization in Cuba. Gross delivered the package and the PADF paid him $400.
What was Gross doing in Cuba in 2004?
At his 2011 trial, Gross testified that he went to the island as a tourist in 2004. He stayed at the four-star Hotel Raquel in Havana. It’s unclear if he traveled to Cuba again before 2009. His 2006 company tax records cited ongoing humanitarian work in Cuba.
Anything special about Collera?
Collera was an important contact for Wachtenheim, but turned out to be a spy. In 2011, Collera revealed that he was a state security agent known as “Agent Gerardo.”
What became of Wachtenheim?
Cuban state security agents secretly caught Wachtenheim on surveillance video while he met with Collera and others. Presumably, agents could have detained Wachtenheim, but they did not interfere with his travels to the island.
Wachtenheim reached out to Gross again in 2007. He gave him $5,500 and asked him to buy a Hughes model 9201 satellite terminal that was to be taken to Cuba. The equipment allows users to send information over the Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN, satellite network. It’s not clear who delivered it and how it was used. The equipment may have been tied to an unrelated PADF program. Raúl Capote, a Cuban professor who worked for Cuban state security, said James Benson, a U.S. official in Havana, delivered a portable BGAN terminal to him and said, “Marc Wachtenheim sends you this.”
That same year, Gross pitched a Cuba proposal to Wachtenheim. He called it “Information and Communications Technology for Cuba: A Pilot Project.”
Wachtenheim didn’t bite. Cuban authorities found out about the project because information about it was on a flash drive Gross had when he was arrested in December 2009.
How did Gross finally get the DAI subcontract?
In 2008, Gross learned that DAI had received a Cuba-related contract, described as a “Washington, DC-based project focused on promoting democratic governance in Cuba.”
One version of the story is that Gross then contacted John McCarthy, chief of party for the Cuba project at DAI, and told him he wanted in. Gross told a different story at his trial, saying DAI had asked him to submit a proposal for an upcoming project that he “knew nothing about.”
Whatever the case, Gross got the job even though he didn’t speak Spanish, was not a Cuba specialist and didn’t appear to have extensive experience on the island.
What happened to McCarthy?
He was promoted. He is now DAI’s Global Practice Leader.
So why did DAI hire Gross?
Gross’s connections certainly didn’t hurt. A DAI official who recommended him to USAID on Oct. 21, 2008, wrote:
I can comment on Alan Gross as a former colleague (we overlapped at Nathan from the late 1980s to the early 1990s) and general acquaintance (we stayed in touch over the years) with whom I have exchanged insights about economic development and new business opportunities in this arena every few months.
Alan is a very conscientious and trustworthy individual. He is particularly strong in situational and issues analysis, brokering of technologies and programmatic concepts, and the identification of business opportunities (and this last is a reference to business start-ups, pilots, and innovative ways of overcoming constraints to business growth). I cannot comment on JBDC, as I have never contracted services directly from his company.
Back up. What’s the reference to Nathan?
Gross was a senior partner at Robert R. Nathan Associates from 1987 to 1991.
What about JBDC?
Joint Business Development Center, Inc., was a business and economic development group that Gross founded and ran.
Who designed DAI’s Cuba project?
The project was “based entirely” on Gross’s Dec. 29, 2008, proposal. Gross called it the “ICTs Para La Isla Project.”
How long was the project supposed to last?
The initial phase was set for 15 weeks: Feb. 10, 2009, to June 10, 2009.
How much was Gross paid?
The original subcontract amount was $258,274. Gross asked DAI for a project extension and $332,334 in additional funds. USAID agreed and Gross signed the deal on Oct. 26, 2009, bringing the subcontract amount to $590,608.
How much did Gross actually receive?
DAI paid the original $258,274. Neither USAID nor DAI has revealed how much more he received. The contractor has said Gross was paid for the “deliverables” he completed.
Under the contract terms, Gross would have gotten $65,132.80 before departing on his last Cuba trip.
Then he would have received $21,168 after returning to the U.S. and filing a trip report with DAI, but he was arrested before he could do that. So it is quite possible he received just $65,132.80, not the full $332,334.
Did Gross have to pay his own expenses out of that budget?
Yes. His proposed $332,334 budget, for instance, included at least $167,445 in expenses. That means Gross would have taken home only $164,889 if he had completed the contract.
What were some of big costs that Gross expected to pay?
- Airfare and lodging in Havana and Miami, $40,112
- Satellite modem user charges for just four months, $68,640
What was his salary?
Gross charged DAI $620 per day. That came in just under USAID’s limit of $626.54, which was the agency’s maximum allowable salary without a waiver in 2009. Gross figured he’d collect that amount for 102 days under the contract extension, giving him $63,240.
So how could Gross have taken home $164,889?
Ah, therein lies the beauty of a federal contract. He threw in company overhead, $21,854; fringe benefits, $21,528; administrative costs, $35,081; and an expense that was simply described as his “fee,” a tidy $35,081, which may have been added to compensate for any cost overruns and other unexpected expenses.
What did Gross accomplish under the subcontract?
He installed three BGAN broadband Internet connections as part of a pilot project. The satellite modems were evidently placed at Jewish synagogues or offices in Havana, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. Gross wrote in a memo:
A wireless network where none previously existed was developed and made operational at 3 target group communities….The target group is now capable of receiving, transmitting, storing and conveying mass information through multi-modal means not previously available.
Gross said “activities initially developed” in Havana and the two other cities now “can be expanded to other identified target groups.”
Although not part of the Contractor’s initial scope of work, basic content was provided to each of the three communities. This includes three encyclopedias, pictures and video of each other’s communities (developed during three field visits), a significant array of music, and more than a terabyte of storage capacity at each site.
How many trips did Gross make to Cuba under the DAI subcontract?
Four during the initial phase, and one after the contract extension. He was arrested during the fifth trip.
How many trips did he plan under the contract extension, in addition to the five?
Seven, which would have brought the total to 12. His goals were to:
- Beef up security at the three Internet sites he had already established because he feared they’d be detected.
- Study and monitor usage at the sites.
- Supply “up to three new beneficiaries” with telecommunications kits he called “Telco-in-a-Bag.” They were each to include a satellite modem, laptop and other equipment that would fit in a backpack.
When was Gross arrested?
Dec. 3, 2009.
Was anyone else jailed?
None of Gross’s Cuba contacts were reported jailed, but Wachtenheim was reportedly in Cuba around that time and was forced to leave the country in a hurry.
Capote, the professor who was also known as Agent Daniel, said Wachtenheim had traveled to Havana in December 2009 and had called him to arrange a meeting, but he didn’t show up.
Later he called to apologize. Capote recalled the conversation.
Wachtenheim: I had to urgently leave Cuba. Do you have your equipment with you? Do you have it?
Capote: I have it.
Wachtenheim: Make it disappear. Get rid of it quickly.
Cuban authorities had arrested an American who was “very awkward and naive,” Wachtenheim explained. He said Capote needed to get rid of his BGAN because having it would be “very dangerous” for Capote and for the American.
What were the charges against Gross?
In February 2011, Cuban authorities charged Gross with “actions against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” Prosecutors also accused him of taking part in a “subversive project aiming at bringing down the revolution.”
How did Gross explain his work?
In a statement given to the court, Gross said he saw the Cuba project as a way to help support his family and “pay off accumulated debts,” and improve Internet access for members of the Jewish community in Cuba.
Let me be absolutely clear and unambiguous: I have never, would never, and will never purposely or knowingly do anything personally or professionally to subvert a government or political system, or bring harm to anyone…I do deeply regret that my actions have been misinterpreted as harmful and a threat against the security and independence of Cuba. Surely, this runs counter to what I had intended.
How did the arrest impact DAI?
On Sept. 14, 2010, USAID modified its contract with DAI. The agency made changes to the scope of work, cut the funding amount from $28,310,630 to $6,857,817, and scheduled early termination of its agreement with the contractor.
Did USAID or DAI say how the contractor spent $6,857,817? Was there any accountability to taxpayers?
No and no. USAID has not made public any reports on the outcome of the Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program. The agency said “due to the sensitive nature of content,” no reports on the program would be submitted to USAID’s huge online database, the Development Experience Clearinghouse.
Have auditors examined USAID’s Cuba programs?
Yes. USAID paid the DMP Group at least $1.47 million to audit the agency’s Cuba programs in 2009 and 2010.
However, USAID has refused disclose any meaningful audit results. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, USAID in 2011 released a 10-page heavily redacted report that contained few details.
Who used the Internet connections that Gross set up?
Neither DAI nor USAID has reported usage details. Trusted Cubans who were vetted in some way evidently managed the sites, so access was limited. Gross’s subcontract required a usage analysis, but no documents on that have been make public.
Where are the BGAN modems, laptops and other equipment now?
Cuban authorities seized the gear.
How did the project advance the democratization of Cuba?
It is not clear the project had any impact in Cuba, despite its cost and the jailing of Our Man in Havana.
- CDCCP Task Order
- DAI contract amendment
- Cuba judgment vs. Alan Gross
- DAI-CDCCP document
- DAI reply to Gross family lawsuit
- Alan Gross budget proposal
- August 2008 DAI meeting notes
- Cuba indictment vs. Alan Gross
- John McCarthy statement
- Vetting of Alan Gross
- Sept. 27 contract record
- Gross’s “Para La Isla” proposal
- DAI contract modification
- USAID salary memo
- Cuba responds to unsubstantiated U.S. claims regarding the Alan Gross case (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Documents Describe US “Transition Plans” for Cuba (alethonews.wordpress.com)
THE last few days have seen an intensification of statements and false reports from the U.S. government related to the case of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, particularly related to the alleged deterioration of his health.
Once again, the U.S. government is lying to the public, by affirming that Mr. Gross is suffering from cancer and is not receiving adequate medical attention.
These lies have not stopped, not even after his family and U.S. authorities were given the results of the biopsy of a lesion on Mr. Gross’ back, which leave no doubt that he does not have cancer.
From the very first day, a team of Cuban doctors of international repute have systematically attended to Mr. Gross. This team has the results of a biopsy and other examinations which demonstrate that Mr. Gross is not suffering from cancer or any other illness representing a threat to his life. The U.S. has no evidence to demonstrate the contrary. If these distortions persist, we shall be obliged to divulge further evidence.
The U.S. government is also lying about Mr. Gross’ prison conditions, his schedule of telephone calls and visits.
The U.S. government is continuing to lie as to the causes which led to Mr. Gross’ detention, with the sole purpose of evading his direct responsibility for his situation and that of his family.
The U.S. government has never addressed the case of Alan Gross seriously and has only reiterated the unsustainable position that it has nothing to negotiate with Cuba in order to find a solution. At the same time, it insists on demanding from Cuba a unilateral decision which does not consider our humanitarian concerns related to the case of the Five. This is not realistic. I reiterate today Cuba’s disposition to immediately establish a dialogue on the issue of Gross.
On the basis of these fabrications and curiously coinciding with the anniversary of Mr. Gross’ detention, the U.S. government has pressured the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to force a decision declaring Mr. Gross’ detention arbitrary. Today, we denounce these acts of pressure, which led to a violation of the customary procedures and timing of the Group’s work.
Yesterday, December 4, the government of Cuba received the opinion of this group describing Alan Gross’ detention as arbitrary.
Today, we are circulating via the MINREX website Cuba’s response to the United Nations Group, which demonstrates that the detention of Mr. Gross cannot in any way be described as arbitrary.
Alan Gross was detained, tried and sentenced with all guarantees and rights of due legal process and in fulfillment of principles related to judicial independence. Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws by committing acts that constitute serious crimes, acts which are severely punished in most countries, including the U.S.
The United States does not permit any other government to ignore its regulations and clandestinely send individuals to its territory, with government funding from this other government, to establish illegal and covert communications systems, without undertaking any kind of procedure or registration, far less so when the objective is to destabilize the existing order.
Mr. Gross has received decorous and humane treatment since he was arrested.
The United Working Group is the same body which, in May 2005, declared arbitrary the detention of the five Cuban anti-terrorists, taking into consideration that they were held in solitary confinement for 17 months, did not have due access to lawyers and the evidence related to the case, as well as the existing climate of predisposition and prejudice which contributed to the Five being presented as guilty from the outset, given the absence of objectivity and impartiality.
The government of Cuba once again invites the U.S. government to serious talks on these issues in order to achieve a humanitarian solution acceptable to both sides.
International Press Center
Havana, December 5, 2012.