Former Rep. Allen West says the trade of American Alan Gross for three Cuban spies "has the same smell" as the swapping of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees earlier this year.
"This has the same smell.... You have to ask yourself, what has changed in the character or the governance of Cuba that now all of a sudden we want to open up diplomatic relations with a staunch violator of human rights," West said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"[It is] a communist nation that suppresses every single freedom and liberty that we believe in.
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"I guess it's OK with President Obama to be chums and pals with these folks and we know he was pretty courteous with Raul Castro during Nelson Mandela's funeral. But down here in South Florida, Little Havana is upset."
West's comments came as Obama announced the prisoner swap and said the U.S. would be normalizing relations with Cuba the first time since the Cold War.
West — a Florida Republican, retired Army lieutenant colonel and author of "Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin's Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom,"
published by Crown Forum — said the announcement comes as the Castro regime continues violating the human rights of Cubans.
"It will not change [their] behavior, it will not make anything different. The reason why we were able to make the [Berlin] Wall come down with the Soviet Union was because of the economic pressure we put on the Soviet Union that eventually made it collapse," West said.
"But we haven't done anything but reward this bad behavior. We've given them back three spies and now we're going to tell them that we're willing to sit down and talk with them. It is truly unconscionable."
"We can make the arguments about China. China does have a free market economy.... But nothing has really changed about Cuba."
Gross, 65, was arrested in December 2009 in Cuba for distributing communications equipment to members of the island's Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of crimes against the Cuban state.
In the Bergdahl case, the solider allegedly left his unit in Afghanistan in the middle of the night in June 2009.
Several attempts to locate Bergdahl came up empty, but he was freed this year and returned to the U.S. under a cloud of controversy as to whether he is a deserter and a traitor.
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