Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Obama hands Cuba’s Castros a major victory, but Congress can still stop it

    Obama hands Cuba’s Castros a major victory, but Congress can still stop it
    By Mike GonzalezPublished December 17, 2014

    Establishing ties with Cuba has been on President Obama’s bucket list
    for some time. Health care — done. Amnesty for illegal immigrants —
    done. Cuba — next. This last one also has the added bonus point that it
    puts him right with the international left, which lionizes Castro.

    And the president will go on picking off the next items on the bucket
    list for the next two years of his term unless Congress decides to stop
    him. Should they work up the gumption, lawmakers will find they can do
    many things to stand up for the prerogatives of the legislative branch.

    Obviously, the release of the 65-year-old American hostage Alan Gross
    should be welcome. His “crime” was to bring computers to Jews on the
    island. For the last five years, he has been a victim of Cuba’s state
    terrorism, just as 11 million Cubans have been held hostage by their
    government for the past five decades.

    Not only does President Obama’s action fail to advance freedom in Cuba,
    it throws a lifeline to Cuba’s dictators.
    Exchanging three hardened Cuban spies for Gross, however, establishes an
    insulting moral and legal equivalency. The spies actions led to the
    death of an American in the 1990s, and they were duly convicted. Their
    release in exchange for Gross creates an incentive for rogue regimes and
    individual actors to kidnap Americans all over the world.

    Not only does President Obama’s action fail to advance freedom in Cuba,
    it throws a lifeline to Cuba’s dictators, whose current supplier of
    funds, Venezuela, is on the ropes because of plunging oil prices. It
    surrenders to the demands for normalization that the Castros have been
    making for decades.

    So what can Congress do?

    Right off the bat, Congress must make it crystal clear to President
    Obama that he lacks the authority to lift the embargo on Cuba, allow
    trade to take place between the two nations, let tourists to go to Cuba
    to bail out the regime or give Cuba have access to capital markets. U.S.
    law—the Helms-Burton Act of 1996—gives the Congress power to override
    any action taken by the executive to lift the embargo.

    In order to lift the embargo, the Cuban government would have to give
    the Cuban people a number of rights—of association, speech, political
    activity, etc.—that President Obama obviously failed to secure in his
    45-minute conversation with Cuban dictator Raul Castro Tuesday.

    Congress can also make clear to the president that there are statutory
    criteria that must be met before his administration can take Cuba off
    the State Department list of terrorism sponsors. The president must
    inform Congress that there has been a change of leadership and policies
    of the Cuban government and that Castro has given assurances that it
    will no longer support terrorist acts. Can President Obama do any of that?

    Senators should also make clear that they will put a hold on any
    ambassador that Mr. Obama nominates to serve in Cuba unless he can
    guarantee that the Cuban government is no longer a threat to the United
    States and has decided to grant freedom to people in Cuba. Sen. Marco
    Rubio, R-Fla., has already said he plans to do that.

    Additionally, Congress can look into the possibility of using policy
    riders in the upcoming DHS appropriations debate in February and the
    Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations process to deny the president funds for
    setting up relations.

    Congress must act because President Obama has been completely feckless
    in his entire approach to Cuba. He received nothing in exchange for many
    substantial concessions made to the Communist regime. After five years
    of “negotiations” President Obama ended exactly where Raul Castro’s
    demands began five years ago. As Senator Marco Rubio said, President
    “Obama is the worst negotiator since Carter.”

    Mr. Obama’s statement was filled with Havana’s communist talking points,
    such as affirming that Cubans are poor and unfree because of the
    embargo, or that Cuba was a U.S. colony. None of that is true, and yet
    Mr. Obama said it.

    Congress must act to limit the damage inherent in this Havana Giveaway.
    Left unchecked, Obama will simply move on to the next misguided item on
    his bucket list.

    A native of Cuba, Mike Gonzalez escaped the Castro regime at age 12. He
    is a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for
    International Studies and the author of “A Race for the Future” How
    Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans.”

    Source: Obama hands Cuba’s Castros a major victory, but Congress can
    still stop it | Fox News –