Tags: Castro-Cuba | Steve Malzberg Show | Alfredo Duran | cuba | embargo | human rights

Cuban-Born Lawyer: Cuba Doesn't Want Embargo Lifted

By    |   Wednesday, 17 December 2014 03:59 PM

A Cuban-born Miami lawyer — jailed for 18 months in Cuba for his role in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion — tells Newsmax TV the Communist island nation must recognize human rights before it can have normal relations with the United States.

"I don't think President [Barack] Obama has much leeway in establishing any kind of relationship with the government of Cuba, attorney Alfredo Duran said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"The only thing President Obama can do is establish diplomatic relations in opening an embassy and some consulates … but not much more than that."

On Wednesday, Obama announced that the U.S plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostility.

Duran questioned whether Cuba truly wanted the embargo lifted.

"Every president has tried to do this, to establish better relations with Cuba, every president since Kennedy, [but] Cuba does something to stop it," he said.

"The embargo is something Cuba doesn't want to be lifted because it is the excuse for everything that goes wrong in Cuba. It's an excuse for their disastrous economy, for not having political rights, for not having human rights, for having political prisoners.

"Basically, what they say is, we are a state of war with the United States because no friendly country embargoes or puts an embargo on another friendly country so therefore, we cannot have these civil rights that we would want our people to have."

But halting a full-scale normalization, according to Duran, is the Helms-Burton Act, a federal law passed in 1996 and named for its sponsors Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, and Rep. Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican.

The law strengthened a longstanding trading embargo and penalizes foreign firms that traffic in property that was once owned by U.S. citizens but was confiscated by Cuba after the Cuban revolution.

"That can only be resolved by Congress and I don't think the present Congress is very inclined to do anything," said Duran, who is on the board of directors for both The Center for International Policy, and the Cuban Committee for Democracy.

Duran said the Helms-Burton bill "regulates most of the things that can happen in Cuba and … requires the Cuban government to have a democracy, to hold elections, to observe human rights, to release all prisoners, all political prisoners and I don't think the Cuban government is ready to do that."

Duran said he was gratified by the release of political prisoner Alan Gross, a political prisoner who had been jailed in Cuba for five years. He was traded for three Cuban spies held in the U.S.

"I’m very happy for Mr. Gross and his family and this is something that should have been done a long time ago," he said.

"The main reason the Cuban government chose to release him now is because of [his] health … They didn't want to have the risk that Mr. Gross would get worse in Cuba or might die in Cuba. So I really am very glad for his whole family.

"[Of] the three spies that are being released by the U.S. government, two of them were about ready to be released anyway because their sentence was about to expire."

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A Cuban-born Miami lawyer — jailed for 18 months in Cuba for his role in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion — tells Newsmax TV the Communist island nation must recognize human rights before it can have normal relations with the United States.
Alfredo Duran, cuba, embargo, human rights
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2014-59-17
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 03:59 PM
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