Jacob Ostreicher said that he has confirmed that the 475 tons of rice donated by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales to Cuba last year was his rice, confiscated at the time of his arrest two years ago.
“They didn’t even bother to repackage the bags,” Ostreicher, a Boro Park businessman whose continued detention in the South American country comes despite the arrest of his prosecutors and judges on corruption charges, said. “I mean, I hope Alan Gross got to eat my rice.”
Gross, a USAID worker who was in Cuba to help connect the Jewish community to the internet, is an American Jew jailed since 2009.
In an interview with Assemblyman Dov Hikind on the latter’s radio show on Motzoei Shabbos, Ostreicher expressed his frustration at his continued confinement to Bolivia.
“Every single prosecutor or judge who was involved in my arrest is either in jail or under house arrest, and I’m still not out,” he said. “It’s absolutely incredible.”
Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who has taken up Ostreicher’s case, briefed him on the movement of “Jacob’s Law.” The House bill, named for Ostreicher, would bar any foreign official responsible for depriving American citizens of their rights to enter the U.S. or send their children to study there.
For example, a high-ranking Bolivian official involved in prosecuting Ostreicher’s case was just granted a seven-day visa to Disneyworld for his family. The law would prohibit that.
Another example Ostreicher gave was Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela, who last year was allowed to attend a conference in San Francisco.
Ostreicher discussed the apology he received from Fernando Rivera, who as the legal director to the minister of government who prosecuted Ostreicher’s case. He said that the mea culpa made waves in the Bolivian courtroom, but the media and his family, who have attended the majority of his hearings, were not there to witness it.
“It was a shame that my family was not in the courtroom,” Ostreicher said. “It was unbelievable.”
Rivera, who had openly threatened a judge who wanted to release Ostreicher, was arrested for corruption in late 2012 for corruption related to the Ostreicher saga. He apologized last month during a routine court hearing but later told reporters that his efforts to keep Ostreicher jailed came directly from his “higher-ups.”
Rivera did not reveal which superiors gave him the orders, but Ostreicher said on Motzoei Shabbos that he believes it to be Sacha Llorenti, formerly Bolivia’s interior minister and currently that nation’s ambassador to the United Nations.
“This guy is probably right now dancing the night away in New York City, while I am wasting away here in Bolivia,” Ostreicher said.
Hearing that Llorenti was in New York, Hikind suggested holding a protest outside the mission, while New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who was in the studio for the interview, said, “we could pay him our own version of a diplomatic visit.”
Ostreicher said that he assumed that the reason he is still not out is since the government will have a hard time defending themselves to the opposition, whom Ostreicher said supports him.
“One way or another we’re going to get you back,” de Blasio assured Ostreicher.