Monday, August 29, 2011

The Shark and the small fish

In his father’s billfold, in his mothers purse, on his brothers minds, on his girlfriends nightstand, in the hearts of a great number of friends and peers from school and fun times; there in a snapshot, with pain and woe one finds the profile of a lad with a boy’s face, large sad eyes and a wide smile.
So few are yet aware that when that lad was only 11 years old he wrote a book with such tenderness and ingenuity as only the pristine mind of a child can conjure. The story is about a small fish that encounters, at sea, a shark; whom he invites to play a game of hide-and-seek. They played until sundown, without incidents for the small fish and of course neither for the shark. As per the narrator, when both fish tell the story to their respective mothers, both were administered their criticism.
The sharks' mother said:
“...don't play with him anymore, the small fish are for us to feed upon”.
Accordingly, the mother of the small fish, who was horrified, recounted the horrible tales of relatives devoured by sharks, in such a way, that after that time, based on what both mothers had told them; the shark and the small fish avoided each other.
Thus a year went by, which toward the end, produced the inevitable chance encounter. The Shark said to the small fish: “You are my enemy, but we can make peace”
That story written by the child re-tells how the fish played secretly for days, weeks and months; until one day they decided to go together to tell their mothers. From that day forward, the shark and the small fish lived in peace.
Nothing stops it from being a children's story; albeit a miraculous dream if it were to become a reality in so many conflicts that humanity suffers, between enemies both definitive and habitual.
This lad, who was almost a child only four years ago, is  the victim of a medieval practice of hand changing by pirates of the latter 20th century and, lamentably, the 21st ; the kidnapping.
The kidnapping is one of most degrading conditions that one human being can force upon another since the victim immediately loses their value as a person and becomes an “exchangeable commodity” for material wealth or for other legal or  illegal captives.
The press informs us on a continuous basis of cases involving kidnappings of every stripe; from the jungles of Latin America to the Persian gulf, with a host of variations and backdrops that vie for the greater cruelty and foulness. A far cry from the story of the shark and the fish.
During the 2nd year of his captivity, they allowed that lad to write a letter to his parents- to tell them how much he missed them, to what degree the extent of his suffering was physical, emotional and cerebral; to plead for a negotiated liberation and fulfill that perennial dream of his in which he finds himself free and embracing them.
Only his tormentors know in actuality what has been wrought upon him, and in what state his mind and body are. The life experience of others in similar circumstances forces us to assume the worst. That lad, before being captured, was better known for his sensitivity and wisdom than for his physical appearance; however, his mentality and courage enabled him to overcome and execute physical tasks beyond his limitations. We hope that remains so.
Those who love him have not seen him since he was 19 years old in June of 2006 when he was kidnapped while guarding a post on the frontier with the Hamas terrorists. He has himself described in one of the very rare statements the torturers have permitted, how they keep him in “an inhumane and intolerable nightmare”.
Lamentably, the role of Amnesty International and the Red Cross in Gaza have been null and void as Hamas has barred them access, while neither of those organizations have exerted a maximum earnestness to do so.
The Government of Israel has taken important steps to attain his freedom, concurrently as in previous engagements, in exchange for Palestinians convicted in a democratic state, with all of the guarantees of due process and transparency entailed therein. Everything has been insufficient for them and that lad is made to live as a martyr.
His name is Gilad Shalit and it is about time for him to go back to his home. As G-d would will it.
Roland J Behar
 Conmemorating his 25th birthday

ROLAND J. BEHAR: Incógnita en la Primavera Árabe - Opinión -

ROLAND J. BEHAR: Incógnita en la Primavera Árabe - Opinión -

Monday, August 15, 2011

Freedom for Alan Gross

Phillip Peters, a research analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the New York Times that the key issue regarding the trial and conviction of Alan Gross was political and that the verdict of ratification of the Cuban Supreme Court showed that the case was not to be resolved in court but by diplomacy. Peters is right on the intentions of the Cuban government to solve it in this way, since the law for them is irrelevant.

Despite the general criteria, the exchange for the 5 Wasps spies trapped and the catch of Faget, the Alvarez, Ana Belen Montes, and more recently, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers are not the main reason for the kidnapping of Alan Gross.

Let’s start from the beginning. For years, Cuba's government mounted an intelligence operation aimed to discredit the exile organizations that ran aid programs to support democracy in Cuba. It should be noted, incidentally, that these programs are very modest compared to what the Soviets did when, through Cuba, unlimited resources were allocated to subvert order and spread death and pain in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In the case of these aid programs, they are intended to give economic independence to the opponents’ pro- democracy that are usually expelled from their jobs by the only employer, the government. The reality is that the opponents’ pro- democracy in Cuba, regardless of their current ideological empathies or affinities with exile’s groups, they have taken peaceful struggle as means to change the status quo to a state of law in their country. The Cuban government only uses violence in response, while the opposition is growing in number and presence.
For this operation the Cuban government used every means at their disposal. They began to puzzle through their agents within the internal opposition a very effective speech, "while you are risking your lives, liberty and the welfare of your family here, there are people in Miami who enjoy luxuries with money that belongs to you ".

The reaction was swift. Soon were heard accusing voices from Cuba, against those who until then, and for years were the moral and material support. Then, allured on by Cuban government spokesmen and agents in Miami, began the struggle between those who were not receiving funds here and those receiving funds. The scandal was heard in Washington and sparked investigations thoroughly. The corollary of the investigations was some money used for chocolates, three scarves and two Nintendo games for the children of some prisoners badly purchased according to the guidelines. They found a corrupt person who, without knowledge of his superior overcharged on the price of items sent to Cuba. No more irregularities were found worthy of scorn or imprisonment. More bark than bite.

Following these incidents, the House and Senate frozen the funds until the matter were clarified and then the U.S. government and its agencies decided to spend the bulk of the support channeled  before through the exile’ organizations, trough subcontractors more  in line and complacent to the  U.S. government.
 With the funds frozen, the Cuban government was very happy, but working through these new entities, made it more difficult for them, than to penetrate, than the Cuban exiles organizations, they realized they have lost even the possibility of receiving funding for their fake organizations in Cuba and in Miami. The Cuban government understands that this flow has to stop anyway and kidnapped Alan Gross to prevent the arrival of more uncontrollable people, unknown to them. The U.S. government misreads, reacts accordingly and suspends the plans. So, the government of Cuba is emboldened and begins to ask for more.
After the promise of Fidel Castro for the release in December of 2010 of the 5  Wasps (the five spies imprisoned in USA) embarks in a worldwide campaign for their liberation and, sotto voce, insinuates the exchange for Alan Gross, but Obama responded negatively to the offer.
When Gross landed in Havana, the dictatorship knew who he was, whom he worked for, what he brought, who was he meeting with and what his plans were. Gross went to Cuba, to do what he has been doing during his whole life, from Kenya to Palestine, to cooperate in developing democracy. His work in Cuba was trying to help peaceful people to access the internet. Gross is now known worldwide. The latest verdict of the supreme court of Cuba just transformed him from a hostage to a prisoner of conscience.
The most important Government and Jewish organizations condemned the injustice done to this peaceful man and this is just the beginning of an international campaign for his release. G–d willing Alan Gross will be free.

Roland J Behar