Tags: Barack Obama | Castro-Cuba | Cuba | U.S. | relations | Cuban-Americans

Cuban-Americans' Reactions Mixed on Obama's New Policy

By    |   Wednesday, 17 December 2014 12:04 PM

Reactions from Cuban-Americans and human-rights activists have been mixed in the wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that he will move to normalize relations with Cuba after decades of sanctions.

Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who is one of two Cuban-American senators, was glad about the release of American prisoner Alan Gross but furious over the president's actions in trading him for convicted Cuban spies, NBC News reported.

"President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. There is no equivalence between an international aid worker and convicted spies who were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage against our nation," Menendez said.

"One spy was also convicted of conspiracy to murder for his role in the 1996 tragedy in which the Cuban military shot down two U.S. civilian planes, killing several American citizens. My heart goes out to the American families that lost love ones on that fateful day."

But Democracy Movement President Ramon Saul Sanchez, who has initiated hunger strikes to protest Cuba's treatment of its citizens, said he is keeping an open mind if it allows for more freedoms for his people, including political dissent, NBC noted.

"The changes that may be introduced represent a large question mark to the Cuban population," said the Miami-based lawyer and activist. "They may also present an opportunity for change in Cuba. A closed society can only be changed when you are able to have people-to-people contact … and also provide them with communications."

Film director Michael Moore was quick to praise Obama's efforts, noting on Twitter: "Finally, another piece of crazy exits the American Way."

Sen. Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants, decried the president's action as helping to further entrench the Castro regime, in an interview with The Associated Press.

"This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba," Rubio said. "But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come."

On Capitol Hill, reaction was "sharply split," The Washington Post reported.

"This is an incredibly bad idea," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted.

In Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, CNN reported that reaction split along generational lines.

"I think people are going to be upset," Cuban exile John Losada, who has lived in the U.S. since the 1960s, when he fled his home for freedom, told CNN. "There is a long history here of people who have a lot of anger, people who have been hurt."

Ana Navarro, who works as a CNN analyst, called the president's actions "disrespectful and unilateral," noting Obama left Congress out when he made his decision on Cuba.

"They've been a thorn in our side, anything other than an ally," said Navarro, who has condemned Cuba's human-rights record. "I will not give one penny of my money to a regime that violates human rights."

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Reactions from Cuban-Americans and human rights activists have been mixed in the wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that he will move to normalize relations with Cuba after decades of sanctions.
Cuba, U.S., relations, Cuban-Americans
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 12:04 PM
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