Will Cuba's Dissidents Save Alan Gross?

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Facing rising international criticism from the brutal upswing in repression against Cuban pro-democracy activists, the Castro regime (just this week) accused the U.S. and Europe of launching a "media campaign" against it.

In other words, the Castro regime is feeling the pressure of such criticism. And rightfully so.

In the last month, there have been a wave of courageous protests -- from street corners to the steps of the Capitol building -- by Cuba's pro-democracy movement. Moreover, these protests have been met with popular support from bystanders.

The Castro regime's response has been ruthless. They've unleashed armed mobs against The Ladies in White, sent riot police to gas the homes of dissidents and have made widespread arrests throughout the island.

According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCHR), the number of documented political arrests have more than doubled in the first eight months of 2011 (compared to the same period in 2010).

This has led to widespread condemnation by human rights organizations and editorial boards throughout the world.

Sound familiar?

This is a similar situation to early 2010 -- pursuant to the death of Cuban political prisoner and hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo -- when the Castro regime faced rising international pressure, hunger strikes by other pro-democracy leaders and relentless activism from The Ladies in White.

As a result, the Castro regime needed to change the subject fast. Thus, it invited Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega to the negotiating table, where the Cardinal acquiesced to banishing as many political prisoners abroad as possible.

Enter stage left, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Needing to once again change the subject fast, the Castro brothers have reportedly invited their old "friend" Richardson to Cuba to discuss the case of American development worker Alan Gross, who has been unjustly imprisoned since December 2009 for the "crime" of helping Cubans connect to the Internet.

Thus, will the activism and sacrifice of Cuba's courageous pro-democracy movement save Alan Gross?

Will rising international pressure towards the Castro regime work -- as it has in the past?

We hope so. And we also hope, if Gross is released, that the on-going struggle and sacrifice of Cuban activists left behind will not be forgotten.