The New York Times urges prisoner
swap with Cuba
The New York Times
has called on President Barack Obama to exchange
Alan Gross, an employee of the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID),
imprisoned in Cuba for covert operations, for the
three Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly incarcerated in
the United States since 1998.
an editorial published on November 2 entitled, “A
Prisoner Swap With Cuba,” the newspaper
U.S. citizen who
is serving a
15 year sentence, was
arrested in Havana
as a result of
strategy on the part of
the U.S. government
and that a solution must be found.
The editors of The New York Times believe
that Washington and Havana should study the Gross
case and that of the Cubans, Gerardo Hernández,
Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, in order to
take the first steps towards
between the two countries.
"A prisoner exchange could pave the way toward
re-establishing formal diplomatic ties, positioning
the United States to encourage positive change in
Cuba through expanded trade, travel opportunities
and greater contact between Americans and Cubans,"
the newspaper highlighted.
"Failing to act," it adds, "would maintain a 50-year
cycle of mistrust and acts of sabotage by both
under the direction of
Inc. which had a contract
with the USAID,
posing as a tourist,
he smuggled communications
equipment into the country.
According to The New York Times, U.S.
officials have concluded that the only means of
securing the release of Gross would be to repatriate
the three remaining Cubans convicted of federal
crimes in Miami in 2001.
To consummate the swap, the editorial notes,
President Obama would need to commute the Cuban’s
"Doing so would be justified considering the lengthy
time they have served, the troubling questions about
the fairness of their trial, and the potential
diplomatic payoff in clearing the way toward a new
bilateral relationship," the article adds.
also points to inconsistencies
in the legal process
against the five
September 12, 1998,
sentenced to long
and unjust prison sentences,
who are internationally known
as The Five, two of whom
have returned to
after having served their
sentences in full.
The article recalled that a three-judge panel on the
United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
overturned the convictions in August 2005, ruling
that a “perfect storm” of factors had deprived the
five defendants of a fair trial.
According to the editorial, the judges established
that, given the widespread hostility toward the
Cuban government in Miami and media coverage that
vilified the accused, the jury could not have been
The paper also mentions that one of the judges,
Phyllis Kravitch, argued that the accusation of
conspiracy to commit murder against Gerardo
Hernández was unfounded, after prosecutors
linked him to
the downing of
Miami shot down
in 1996. According to this judge,
prosecutors failed to establish that
Hernández had provided Havana with information about
The piece also highlights that independent entities,
including a United Nations panel that examines cases
of arbitrary detentions, as well as other
non-governmental organizations, have criticized the
legal proceedings against the five Cubans.
The editorial stresses that, if a
solution to the Alan
case is not reached, the
possibility of establishing
a healthier relationship
"This is an entirely avoidable scenario, as Mr.
Obama can easily grasp, but time is of the essence,"
it concludes. (PL)