Nearly four years after release, Alan Gross is grateful

My Nov. 29 post about the Alan Gross case led to some lively debate on Facebook. I had raised the possibility that U.S. officials were slow to negotiate for the release of the American development worker because hardline Florida lawmakers needed a victim. Janet Ballantyne, a former honcho at the Agency for International Development, had … Read more

Cuban American “terrorism” overlooked

Many historians “have largely ignored” or played down “Cuban American terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s,” a Temple University scholar writes. Yet “the wave of terror unleashed on parts of the United States during the 1970s, especially, was arguably the most serious and impactful in U.S. history, fully on par with Gilded Age anarchism, Vietnam-era … Read more

Ex-diplomat in Havana: “I was never really given any marching orders”

An American diplomat “created a puppet company called ABS Gazebo” and used it as “a cover to smuggle in parts for the enormous electronic ticker” that lit up the former U.S. Interests Section in Havana in 2006. James Cason told people he “had no more stamina to fight Fidel and instead wanted to setup a … Read more

Ex-official: Alan Gross gave hardliners a pretext for hostility

U.S. officials let an American development worker languish in a Cuban prison rather than quickly negotiate his release because they were under pressure from hardline Florida lawmakers eager to highlight Cuba as an “evil empire,” a former U.S. official said in an interview. Cuban authorities arrested Gross in 2009 for setting up illegal Wi-Fi hotspots. … Read more

Lobbyist lands in the White House

One of the most successful advocates for a hardline U.S. position against Cuba is now in the White House. Lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone is director of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the National Security Council. He works for NSC chief John Bolton, who famously – and some would say erroneously – said in 2002 that Cuba was … Read more