Learning From Castro's Coercion, Maduro Wants a Prisoner Swap Also

Monday, January 5, 2015
Just two weeks after Cuban dictator Raul Castro coerced President Obama into a prisoner swap and a series of policy concessions, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro wants one also.

At least a prisoner swap, for now.

Two weeks ago, Obama cut a deal with Castro for the release of American hostage Alan Gross, which included the exchange of three convicted Cuban spies in the United States -- including one serving a life sentence for a conspiracy to kill Americans -- for one Cuban intelligence asset held prisoner by Castro.

Obama also agreed to a host of policy concessions in exchange for the release of 53 Cuban political prisoners, access by the International Committee of the Red Cross and increased Internet access. None of which have been confirmed.

This deal is so lopsided and poorly executed that the world's tyrants and rogues have clearly taken note.

Like clockwork, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro has just announced that he would release famed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, arbitrarily imprisoned since February 2014 -- but only in a prisoner swap with the United States.

In return, Maduro wants the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist who was convicted and sentenced in 1981 to 55-years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy.

"The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera - man for man," Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

Following Castro's playbook, Maduro may next seek to coerce the United States into easing the recently imposed sanctions against Venezuelan human rights violators.

The result: Obama's Cuba deal just further endangered the well-being of American travelers and development workers in Venezuela (and in any other rogue nation throughout the world).