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  • Humberto Fontova: Above comments prove that “El professor distraido” is back in FORM! As “distraido” as ever!

  • Carlos Eire: Wait! Retraction. I thought this list was from the New York Times. They listed my book today too, as one of the top 10....

  • Rayarena: By the way, there are actually 5 not 4 Cuban American congressmen. You evidently forgot to include former Miami Mayor Xavier...

  • Carlos Eire: Hey! I had nothing to do with this! The bastards refused to review the book when it was published. And also refused to list...

  • asombra: Don’t be silly. The first Latino president will be Jeb Bush.

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realclearworld

Castro 1, USA 0: No concessions, just more repression

A guest post by Rudy Mayor:

Castro 1 USA 0: No Concessions Just More Repression

Proponents of lifting the embargo and now President Obama say that U.S. policy has failed because the Castro brothers are still in power. Yet, no policy approach towards Castro’s Cuba has been more broadly applied internationally as the one Obama proposes. Again this year, 188 of 193 countries in the United Nations voted to condemn the U.S. embargo. How successful have those 188 countries been collectively in advocating for democracy in Cuba?

Even those nations that pledge to advocate for democracy while doing business with Cuba’s state-owned monopolies end up paying mere lip-service to human rights. After Obama’s proposed changes, I fear the U.S. will become another contributor in an already long list of nations that helps finance the Castro regime’s repression.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aye-vj02Qj8/UV6D0WHMVsI/AAAAAAAAjuQ/4n5paCDhNlU/s1600/Jay+Cuba+11.jpgAnd what about Cuba’s newest tourists? It is of course dangerously naiive to think that mojito sipping/cigar smoking American tourists will accomplish what other freedom loving peoples haven’t by vacationing in Cuba. The embargo already contained exceptions for Americans who legitimately wanted to engage in humanitarian work. It was in fact one of those exceptions that permitted Alan Gross to visit Cuba and his humanitarian work landed him in jail. After Obama’s announcement, I expect the floodgates of irresponsible and ignorant tourists to descend upon Havana to usher in a new era of exploitation and to provide the Castro regime with a bigger lifeline than Soviet Russia or oil-rich Venezuela ever could.

The U.S. bailout of the Castro regime could not come at a better time. Venezuelan oil becomes cheaper by the day and the future of the Maduro regime less certain. With a more organized pro-democracy opposition in Cuba, the Castros also need more resources to continue their record setting number of political arrests. Opening up to U.S. business and travel is also more secure than ever for the Castro regime after having mastered the art of profit and repression without threatening their grip on power.

Since it remains illegal in Cuba for foreigners to do business with anyone other than its state-owned monopolies, we should not expect Americans to be doing business with everyday Cubans anytime soon. Unfortunately that is one in a long list of concessions President Obama forgot to discuss with dictator Raul Castro.

Daily Beast (no less!) hails Carlos Eire’s book as among “Top five on Cuba!”

carlos2carlos23
"Le ZZZZZZUMBA!!!"

Story here.

Current occupant of the White House flaunts Cuban cigar

I spit on fools who place human rights above these cigars

I spit on fools who place human rights above these cigars

From the You-Knew-This-Was-Coming department: Cuban cigar openly brandished in White House

The Castro-enabler-in-chief didn't wait very long to rub salt in the wounds of Cubans everywhere.

Just a few hours after capitulating to all the demands of the Castro regime, the current occupant of the White House posed for cameras with a Cuban cigar.

Never mind the fact that bringing Cuban cigars into the United States is illegal.   We all know people who sneak them in.  Maybe even some of our readers have done this.

Yes, YOU! (You know who you are, you vile embargo-busters).

Cuban cigars from the Castro era and the White House have an interesting history.

Before he imposed the embargo on Cuba, President John F. Kennedy purchased as many Cuban cigars as his lackeys could round up.

Kennedy probably smoked a few of these cigars in the spring of 1961 while he was betraying Brigade 2506 and during the tough days that followed the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

jfk-cigar2

Bill Clinton and his young paramour Monica Lewinski made history with a  Cuban cigar in the White House.

You know the details.  Can't say more.  Some children read Babalu.    Even worse: when Hilary Clinton becomes president, she might shut down Babalu.

148526

monica-lewinsky-and-cigar-smoking-gallery

Now it's none other than President  Give-It-All-Away who gets his turn.

Just a guess: Hannukah music playing in the background must be Red Hot Chili Peppers,

Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...

... No time for the piggies or the hoosegow

Get smart get down with the pow wow

Never been a better time than right now...

.... Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...

Taaaaaabaco!  Ven aca, Obamito, tengo un regalito...

Taaaaaabaco! Ven acá , Obamito lindo;  tengo un regalito.... y no es ni un Ache Uma...ni un Montecristo...

This is what Wednesday's charade was really all about.  Next comes the vacation in Varadero or Cayo Coco, the purchase of a vintage car or two,  a photo op with Smokin' Graciela, and the visit by  Raúlito, who will bring a lifetime supply of Montecristos and H. Upmann's from Habanos, S.A.

Give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now, give it away give it away give it away now...

getAsset

Now, this is what I call a civil society, Raul !!!

From TMZ

Move over Monica ... there's a new controversial cigar in the White House -- a Cuban fingered by President Obama in a photo many thought was fake, but we've learned it's the real deal.

The original pic shows Obama Wednesday night ... sampling the aroma of what's alleged to be a Cuban cigar. It was posted on Reddit Thursday morning, and immediately the Internet started tearing it apart as a Photoshop job.

TMZ has obtained several high-res pics of POTUS' run-in with the cigar -- and our photo/art experts say everything about them looks legit. Significant ... since Cuba and the U.S. just agreed to open embassies in each other's countries.

According to our D.C. sources ... the hand-off went down during the White House Hanukkah party -- when an invitee walked up and said, "Mr. President, here's a Cuban." Obama proceeded to give it a huge sniff and then held on to the gift. It's unclear if he pocketed it or handed it to the Secret Service.

635544234744984163-AP-APTOPIX-OBAMA-US-VATICAN-63159084

 

Václav Havel’s advice to President Obama and to Cubans

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Václav Havel's advice to President Obama and to Cubans

Three Years Later: Missing Havel's Moral Stature

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Service for Václav Havel on third anniversary of his passing

Three years ago today Václav Havel passed away and today he remains greatly missed. In large part, sadly, this is due to the lack of anyone else on the international scene with his moral stature and consistent solidarity with the victims of repression world wide. For example, ten days prior to his passing Havel signed on as one of the members of a new International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_qy_xiZTyec/VJLOVip28-I/AAAAAAAAJhI/dNNGMKiEp8c/s1600/bttr4.jpg

Murdered over international airspace on February 24, 1996

Yesterday, watching the spectacle of the Obama Administration orchestrating the unveiling of its change in Cuba policy while trying to obfuscate that it had been blackmailed by the Castro regime into releasing a man convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down in order to obtain the freedom of Alan Gross, an innocent man brought to mind an observation made back in 2009 by the late Czech president.

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Families of four men murdered on 2/24/96 speak out yesterday

Havel believed that moral actions, no matter how small or futile they may appear at the time can have profound consequences for both freedom and a just society. It is because the world is not a puzzle to be solved but incredibly much more complex that decisions of right and wrong made by each person have such great weight.

Continue reading HERE.

My prescience will be proven…

Almost five years ago I wrote a piece for this here blog predicting what would happen if the US unilaterally changed course on Cuba policy. Very soon you will be amazed by my ability to see the future. Am I psychic? Hardly. I'm awake and paying attention.

Visions of a post-embargo Cuba
By Henry Louis Gomez, on February 25, 2010, at 10:38 am

It seems that the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is the constant thread of the narrative here at Babalu Blog and wherever the issue of Cuba and its dictatorship is discussed. It feels like every day someone new comes along and says, “well it hasn’t worked in fifty years so isn’t time to try something new?” The purpose of this post is not to discuss the origins or intent of the embargo, we’ve discussed that ad nauseam, but rather to look into our crystal ball and see what a post-embargo Cuba would look like without the regime first making any significant changes to its economic and political systems. In other words, giving the castro brothers exactly what they have been asking for since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Tourism
The first implication of lifting the embargo is that Cuba will be legally open to U.S. tourists for the first time in half a century. Now it’s interesting to ponder the fact that the castro regime’s creation myth begins with Cuba as a tourist playground for wealthy Americans who frolicked on Cuba’s beaches and gambled at tables of Cuba’s casinos while a dictator oppressed the Cuban people during the 1950s. Certainly it was not U.S. tourists that “liberated” Cuba from Batista. But now somehow American tourists possess some magical power to bring about change, at least that’s what embargo opponents would have you believe.

So what would a Cuba full of American tourists look like? Not too different than Cuba today. How can I say that with such certainty? Well because Cuba plays host to more than 2.3 million international tourists annually today, far more than ever went to Cuba during the 50s. The fact is that hotel capacity is currently limited to about 2.5 million visitors per year so the influx of American tourists will only increase the total number of visitors marginally. What it will do however is drive the price of hotel room nights up as demand temporarily outstrips supply.

So you’ll have a few more tourists visiting Cuba with all of them paying a premium to do it. What will they do there? Well certainly they’ll be staying at all-inclusive resorts like this one where the employees are selected by the regime and paid a fixed wage of roughly $20 a month by law. They’ll also be taking “cultural tours” like this one and enjoying the Jet Skiis and motorboats. They’ll be photographing all of the pre-castro landmarks (because nobody ever comes back from Cuba showing off their snapshots of Soviet Era apartment blocks) and getting drunk. The point here is that all of this already taking place yet the much ballyhooed people-to-people exchanges have not resulted in any significant change in the day-to-day lives of the Cuban people.

Additionally, American tourists will find Cuba’s resorts and hotels to be substandard when compared with other Caribbean destinations. At least that’s what Canadian and European tourists have found. They shouldn’t be surprised that facilities are not maintained and service is shoddy, after all it is a communist dictatorship.

Continue reading HERE.

Cuba’s Castro brothers get a big present from Santa Obama

The Editorial Board of Investors Business Daily:

Cuba's Castro Brothers Get Big Present From Santa Obama

http://www.investors.com/image/castro121714_345.gif.cms

Foreign Policy: Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama's announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month's decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was "not working," comparable to Obama's claim the U.S. immigration system is "broken." In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.

As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross and another U.S. agent for three professional Cuban intelligence officers linked to the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown, it was a deal that gave far more than it got, just like the hostage swap with the Taliban of U.S. army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists.

And it was all about leading from behind.

Once again, Obama made nice with Latin America's leftwing leaders, whose interests don't align with ours, and used Pope Francis as a fig leaf for his action.

They are rooted in little more than Obama's desire to be popular with such leaders at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April. It is little different from his actions in Libya during the so-called Arab Spring.

Continue reading HERE.

The Castros finally hit the jackpot

Rich Lowry in Politico:

The Castros Finally Hit the Jackpot

Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

http://images.politico.com/global/2014/12/17/1974_fidel_castro_ap_629.jpg

Candidate Barack Obama said that, as president, he would talk to anti-American dictators without precondition. He didn’t mention that he would also give them historic policy concessions without precondition.

His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.

The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).

The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.

Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies.

Who helped negotiate the one with Cuba? Harry Truman had Dean Acheson. Richard Nixon had Henry Kissinger. Bush I had James Baker. Barack Obama has Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser who is his Castlereagh and has what it takes to collapse U.S. policy toward Cuba and get nothing in return.

There is no doubt that economic sanctions are a blunt and dubious instrument, and reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of levying them in a given instance (I’ve gone back and forth about the Cuban embargo over the years). But dictatorial regimes hate them for a reason. All things considered, these regimes want more economic wherewithal rather than less.

Obama’s olive branch to the Castros couldn’t be better-timed from the perspective of the family that has made a handsome business out of crushing its fellow Cubans. The regime is heavily dependent on the largesse of its ideological partner Venezuela, whose irrational, left-wing policies have helped send its economy spiraling toward default. Just as the Castro dictatorship faces the dire prospect of the collapse of Venezuela’s support, here comes El Yanqui to cushion the blow.

The Castro regime will take a cut of the increased trade, remittances and tourism that will spring from Obama’s concessions. Cuba obviously doesn’t have a free, or mostly free, or even remotely free, economy. Its economy is run by and for the government.

Continue reading HERE.

Canada’s Sun News Network TV calls it perfectly again ( “Castro’s Christmas present”)

ezra47<ezra38

"President Obama should admit he wants this for his "legacy" and stop insulting the intelligence of people who actually follow this issue by claiming to act on behalf of the Cuban people."

Video here.

Santa Obama delivers oxygen for Cuba’s Castros and ‘Come back, Yankees!’

Garrincha in El Nuevo Herald:

http://www.elnuevoherald.com/opinion-es/caricaturas/169kbs/picture4632849/alternates/FREE_960/GarrincharelacionesUSA.jpg

Lauzán:

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Only Cubans can save Cuba: Obama embraces Castro tyrants while the people still fight for democracy

Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of assassinated Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya in PanAm Post:

Only Cubans Can Save Cuba

Obama Embraces Castro Tyrants, While the People Still Fight for Democracy

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B5JTCPQIAAIGGPm.jpg:large

The changes in US foreign policy announced this Wednesday, December 17, come only a week after the arrest and violent mistreatment of 100 Cuban citizens on December 10, whose only crime was to protest in favor of their rights. This shows clearly that achieving democracy is only a priority for the Cuban people.

It is the Cuban people who strive and will continue to struggle for the political changes that will lead us to democracy. For the existence of the rule of law is the only scenario that can offer us the ability to overcome poverty and work for the common good.

Our hopes don’t rest on the actions of any foreign government.

The US president has now rewarded the Cuban regime for having released a prisoner. The Barack Obama administration has decided to normalize relations with a government that isn’t normal, because it is not legitimate. The Cuban people never chose it, and it violates our most fundamental human rights. In the ongoing dialogue between the elites of Washington and Havana, where are the Cuban people?

The new scenario comes with new opportunities, not only in the field of a possible improvement in communications, or in the nascent private sector. But the first to censor and restrict these sectors, we should remember, was the Castro regime, not any foreign government.

More important, however, is that diplomatic changes present new opportunities for Cuban citizens, and that their demands for justice be heard. Those democratic governments and institutions that worked for this deal must make the Cuban regime listen to the people.

What will guarantee that the people are listened to will be respect for human rights, and the possibility of citizen participation.

What will guarantee citizen participation will be free elections.

So we call now for all Cubans to work for a popular vote in favor of free, multiparty elections. We call on the governments of the world — including those of Canada and the Vatican, which played a key role in brokering the deal — to support the right of all Cubans, and all human beings, to decide on their future.

We congratulate the Gross family on Alan’s return home, and on being together again at last.

OBAMA — THE FIRST LATINO PRESIDENT???!!!

PinochioOutrageous article below and outrageous idea to consider! Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) is on point when he said that Obama's Cuba Initiative represents "a limitless willingness to appease enemies of freedom," and a "grotesque concession."

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, has shown his true colors.  Not only is he delusional by implying that Obama could go down in history as the "first Latino president," but he has demonstrated by his insensitive remarks that he is not a friend of freedom-loving Cuban Americans.

And the author of this article, Edward-Isaac Dovere, showed his discriminatory animus toward Cuban-Americans by implying that because Cuban-Americans make up "only 3.5% of Hispanics," Obama didn't risk much by angering them. After all, Dovere indicated that the majority of other Hispanics approve the President's actions pertaining to Cuba.

Now, Dovere is not far-fetched with the last statement. It is true that there are many Hispanics who are against anything that most Cuban-Americans are for -- mainly out of envy for the huge success that Cuban-Americans have garnered in the U.S.

Let's get real!   It is quite an accomplishment to have five representatives and three senators serving in the U.S. Congress -- two of the senators being potential presidential candidates -- despite being 3.5% of the Hispanic population!

By not keeping his promise not to change the Cuba relationship without, first, offering guarantees of human rights or freedom of labor unions and political parties, Obama has lost credibility with Cuban-American voters.

Cuban-Americans do not forget who betrayed them when it comes time to vote.

Personally, I think that a more appropriate designation for Obama would be "Pinocchio-In-Chief."

To read the article, click on http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/the-first-latino-president-113694.html

Pope Francis and the resuce of Cuba’s bloody and repressive godless dictatorship

Ben Shapiro in Breitbart:

Pope Francis’ Disturbing Cuban Manipulation

http://media.breitbart.com/media/2014/12/pope-francis-musing-AP.jpg

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be changing its policy toward Cuba, opening a Havana embassy and expanding travel. “Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas,” President Obama explained.

The president negotiated the deal between the United States and Cuba over the course of 18 months. Pope Francis apparently initiated the negotiations himself. The Vatican released the following statement:

[T]he Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.

Raul Castro thanked Pope Francis personally for the deal.

Pope Francis’ casual embrace of a communist regime contrasts sharply with the approach of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland in 1979 famously helped launch the solidarity movement that led to the collapse of communism in the nation.

When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, he blasted the Castro regime by routinely using the language of freedom, and implicitly criticizing the Castros:

The Church in Cuba has always proclaimed Jesus Christ, even if at times she has had a scarcity of priests and has had to do so in difficult circumstances. I wish to express my admiration for so many of the Cuban faithful for their fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to the Pope, as also for the respect they have shown for the more genuine religious traditions learned from their elders, and for the courage and persevering spirit of commitment demonstrated in the midst of their sufferings and ardent hopes.

Pope Francis, then an assistant archbishop, apparently wrote a book about the visit, which he joined. The tract, titled Dialogues Between John Paul II and Fidel Castro, slammed “the spirit that has driven capitalism – using capital to oppress and subject people.”

Pope Benedict visited Cuba in 2012 and slammed the American embargo against Cuba, but also stated in Havana’s Revolution Square:

The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom… [some] wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves in ‘their truth,’ and try to impose it on others.

At the time, human rights activists criticized Benedict for not meeting with dissidents.

Francis has gone further than both of his predecessors. He didn’t merely criticize the embargo – he attempted to broker an end to it with explicitly political maneuvering. According to his biographer, Austen Ivereigh, Francis “saw the paralysis that resulted from the embargo, which had a deeply damaging impact on Cuban politics, psyche and economics.”

And unlike both John Paul II and Benedict, Francis’ critique of communism has been tepid at best. In October, Francis complained that “land, housing and work are increasingly unavailable to the majority of the world’s population,” and warned, “If I talk about this, some will think that the Pope is a communist.” Instead, Francis explained, “love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel…it’s the social doctrine of the church.”

Continue reading HERE.

Leaders of Cuba’s dissident movement react to Obama’s unilateral concessions to the apartheid Castro dictatorship

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Cuban Dissident Leaders React to Obama's Announcement

Cuban dissident leaders react to President Obama's announcement to normalize relations with Castro's dictatorship:

"Sadly, President Obama made the wrong decision. The freedom and democracy of the Cuban people will not be achieved through these benefits that he's giving -- not to the Cuban people -- but to the Cuban government. The Cuban government will only take advantage to strengthen its repressive machinery, to repress civil society, its people and remain in power."

-- Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White.

"[Alan Gross] was not arrested for what he did, but for what could be gained from his arrest. He was simply bait and they were aware of it from the beginning... Castroism has won, though the positive result is that Alan Gross has left alive the prison that threatened to become his tomb."

-- Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger and independent journalist, 14ymedio.

"The Cuban people are being ignored in this secret conversation, in this secret agreement that we learned today. The reality of my country is there is just one party with all the control and with the state security controlling the whole society. If this doesn’t change, there’s no real change in Cuba. Not even with access to Internet. Not even when Cuban people can travel more than two years ago. Not even that is a sign of the end of the totalitarianism in my country."

--Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of murdered Christian Liberation Movement leader, Oswaldo Paya.

"[Obama's announcement] is horrible and disregarding the opinion of [Cuban] civil society sends a bad message. The acceptance of neo-Castroism in Cuba will mean greater support for authoritarianism in the region and, as a consequence, human rights will be relegated to a secondary role."

-- Antonio Rodiles, head of Estado de Sats.

"Alan Gross was used as a tool by the Castro regime to coerce the United States. Obama was not considerate of Cuban citizens and of the civil society that is facing this tyrannical regime. In Miami, Obama promised that he would consult Cuba measures with civil society and the non-violent opposition. Obviously, this didn't happen. That is a fact, a reality. He didn't consider Cuba's democrats. The betrayal of Cuba's democrats has been consummated."

-- Guillermo Fariñas, former Sakharov Prize recipient.

"The Obama Administration has ceded before Castro's dictatorship. Nothing has changed. The jails remain filled, the government represents only one family, repression continues, civil society is not recognized and we have no right to assemble or protest... The measures that the government of the United States has implemented today, to ease the embargo and establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, will in no way benefit the Cuban people. The steps taken will strengthen the Castro regime's repression against human rights activists and increase its resources, so the security forces can keep harassing and repressing civil society."

--Angel Moya, former political prisoner of the Black Spring (2003).

"We are in total disagreement with what has transpired today. It's a betrayal of those who within Cuba have opposed the regime in order to achieve definitive change for the good of all Cubans."

-- Felix Navarro, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU).

"It's discomforting that the accounts of the Castro regime can grow, as the first step will be more effective repression and a rise in the level of corruption."

-- Jose Daniel Ferrer, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU)

"This is a betrayal that leaves the democratic opposition defenseless. Obama has allied himself with the oppressors and murderers of our people."

-- Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," former political prisoner and head of the National Resistance Front.

"I feel as though I have been abandoned on the battlefield."

-- Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, former Cuban political prisoner and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.

Outrage over Obama’s unilateral concessions to Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship from both sides of the Senate aisle

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-FL) in USA Today:

One-sided deal rewards Cuba regime

http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/4237df4272b2e18164bfbf95a3bafb9f19f79030/c=285-17-945-513&r=x404&c=534x401/local/-/media/2014/12/17/USATODAY/USATODAY/635544398976334459-OPPOSE.JPGAlan Gross is home now. His five-year imprisonment for providing Internet access to Cuba's small Jewish community was cruel, arbitrary and consistent with the behavior of the Cuban regime.

By releasing Mr. Gross in exchange for three convicted Cuban spies who conspired to commit espionage against our nation, this administration has wrongly rewarded a totalitarian regime and thrown the Cuban regime an economic lifeline.

Cuba is a repressive state, but it will now receive the support of the United States, the world's greatest democracy.

For compromising on bedrock U.S. values, we received zero commitments from the regime to change its ways, to hold free elections, permit dissent, halt censorship and free all political prisoners. We abandoned U.S. policy, while the Castro brothers' stranglehold on power just got tighter.

This swap sets an extremely dangerous precedent and invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.

Most concerning is that the decision to open relations with Cuba fails to understand the nature of the Castro regime that has exerted its authoritarian control over the Cuban people for 55 years.

There is no reason that Cuba will reform just because the American president believes that, if he extends his hand in peace, the Castro brothers will suddenly unclench their fists.

The opposite is true.

The changes to U.S. policy are clearly intended to circumvent the intent and spirit of U.S. law and Congress. It presents a false narrative about Cuba, suggesting that the United States and not the regime is responsible for its failings.

Cuba's economic struggles are the result of 50 years of failed political and economic experiments. In Cuba, private business is controlled by the Cuban government, with the benefits flowing to the regime's political and military leadership.

Continue reading HERE.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in The Wall Street Journal:

A Victory for Oppression

President Obama’s policy is bad news for the Cuban people living under a dictatorship, and it sends a dangerous message to the world.

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/2569607530/lsspjwt1tkmi8xrxfdxh.jpegThe announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.

Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.

As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.

The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.

The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come—dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy.

Of course, like all Americans, I am overjoyed for Alan Gross and his family after his release from captivity after five years. This American had been a hostage of the regime, and it was through his imprisonment that the Cuban regime again showed the world its cruel nature.

But the policy changes announced by President Obama will have far-reaching consequences for the American people. President Obama made it clear that if you take an American hostage and are willing to hold him long enough, you may not only get your own prisoners released from U.S. jails—as three Cuban spies were—you may actually win lasting policy concessions from the U.S. as well. This precedent places a new price on the head of every American, and it gives rogue leaders around the world more clear-cut evidence of this president’s naïveté and his willingness to abandon fundamental principles in a desperate attempt to burnish his legacy.

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U.S. State Dept. Official: Human rights not tied to normalizing relations with Cuba’s apartheid regime

So much for the widely promoted premise that diplomatic relations with the repressive Castro regime will free the Cuban people from that apartheid dictatorship. Geez, they didn't even have the common decency of waiting a few days before taking off the cynical mask.

Via Reuters:

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Roberta Jacobson

Restoring U.S.-Cuba ties unlikely to be tied to human rights: U.S. official

(Reuters) - The restoration of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations after more than half a century is not likely to be directly tied to the issue of human rights in Cuba, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.

"I do think that some human rights issues will be talked about in this trip," Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson told reporters, referring to her expected late January travel to Cuba for talks on migration.

The talks will also include a host of other issues flowing from U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday to move toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

"I do not necessarily think that we are talking about direct human rights conditionality in the restoration of diplomatic relations part," she added. "That is a legal process, if you will, or a diplomatic process, that will be fairly mechanical."

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