No Matter How You Spin It, Obama Betrayed Freedom-Loving Cubans

Monday, December 29, 2014
By Guillermo Martinez in The Sun-Sentinel:

No matter how you spin it, Obama betrayed Cuban exiles

One thing is absolutely clear in my mind: I am delighted that Alan Gross is free and back in the United States with his family.

The American contractor jailed for the last five years for taking satellite equipment to the small Jewish community in Cuba did not deserve the punishment he got, for what he did is not a crime in a civilized world.

How his freedom came about is another story. They say he was released for humanitarian reasons. But attached to his freedom came many unsavory agreements.

The much-ballyhooed agreement for Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations brings more questions than answers to mind.

For example:

Why now? Why President Barack Obama waits for the day after Congress ends its session to make the announcement of the new opening in relations with Cuba?

Why now when the price of oil is putting Venezuela and Russia in dire economic straits?

How much has Cuba really given to achieve this agreement? It has promised to listen respectfully to American demands in future negotiations — listen, nothing else.

Obama gave Cuba everything the island nation wanted, and in return got the release of a handful of political prisoners, a long-time intelligence agent that nobody knew anything about, and the promise it would listen to American demands — listen, nothing else.

It is obvious the answers to the questions raised explain clearly why the announcement came now, and give us an indication of what we can expect in the future.

President Obama waited until Congress finished its session so it would have time to create a lobby for his actions before the new Republican-dominated Congress convenes on Jan. 6. He wants to give the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is desperate to start selling products to Cuba, time to convince the Republican Congress it is in their best interest to open relations with Cuba.

Cuba accepted the deal now because Venezuela's economy is rapidly deteriorating and won't be able to continue providing cheap oil too much longer.

Raúl Castro is not as charismatic as Fidel, but he is a wise old man and he clearly understood that unless he allowed the U.S. to give him a helping hand, Cubans would be desperate for their basic needs.

It is important to note most of the dissidents in Cuba have criticized the new deal between Cuba and the United States. They know better than anyone else that Cuban security agents will not stop beating them up for demanding the right to free association and free speech. They cannot forget that less then a week ago, they were beaten for trying to gather on the day the United Nations celebrates Human Rights Day.

Now let's look at what comes next.

The U.S. Congress is going to have to approve the nomination of a new ambassador to Cuba. With all Cuban-American representatives and senators opposed to the new agreement, that will not be an easy task.

It is also going to be hard to get Congress to finance opening a new embassy in Havana and consulates throughout the island. It will closely study the new proposals to see if they violated the Helms-Burton law passed in 1996 under the Clinton Administration.

This reminds me that we have to talk about the relatives of the four Brothers to the Rescue members who were shot down by Cuban Migs in international waters over the Florida Straits. Brothers to the Rescue watched for rafts floating from Cuba so the U.S. Coast Guard could pick them up and prevent them from drowning.

To the relatives of Brothers to the Rescue, to the veterans of the Bay of Pigs, to the many Cubans who were infiltrated back into the island to fight the Castro regime, to the thousands of people who have been killed by the communists in Cuba, to the many tens of thousands of former political prisoners and to all decent Cubans, what President Obama has done is unacceptable. He has betrayed the exile community and the people of Cuba.