One of 'Cuban Five' spies to walk free today in Florida
But where will Rene Gonzalez, convicted of spying for the Cuban government, go? A Florida judge has ordered he must serve three years of probation in the US, after spending 13 years behind bars.
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No matter what your opinion of Gonzalez or his crime – and he did commit one by working for his government without registering with ours – it’s hard to see any altercation over his supervised release playing out well for the Obama administration. It would draw attention to the Cuba issue right as the administration would probably prefer it to fade away (re-election, anyone?), and has police vs. community elements face-off/debacle – remember Elian Gonzalez, folks? – written all over it, but instead of centering on a sweet-faced little boy, the crisis would revolve around a foreign government agent walking the streets of Miami. And in that harsh light of sudden media attention, the administration would end up catching flack for not shipping Gonzalez off. After all, the best way to “protect” America from someone is to keep him off US soil.Skip to next paragraph
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If the administration has any means – which probably entails being able to speedily deport Gonzalez (Gonzalez is only willing to renounce his US citizenship if he doesn’t have to go through a long immigration process to get deported after doing so) – sending Gonzalez back to Cuba averts potential conflicts in Miami, and takes that issue off the table.
It also offers Cuba that reciprocal humanitarian gesture to which Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez alluded, though I certainly wouldn’t expect the administration to frame it that way. I’m not convinced Raul Castro’s government rejected waived supervised parole for Gonzalez as a potential gesture to win early release for Alan Gross, who has served nearly two years of his 15 year term. Perhaps they just rejected the messenger. There’s always the possibility that the Cuban government won’t respond in kind, which I think would be a huge tactical mistake (if the goal is to move forward on an incremental improvement in relations). But at least no one will question whether we tried.
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