Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan

    Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan
    BY CHRIS ADAMS MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU
    01/20/2015 8:29 PM 01/20/2015 10:28 PM

    WASHINGTON
    Cuban democracy activists and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday blasted
    the White House and its proposed easing of tension with the Castro
    government, saying during a Capitol Hill press conference that the Obama
    administration had sided with the oppressors and not the oppressed.

    “There can’t be a normalizing of relations until there is justice on
    that island, and until there’s been justice paid for all the atrocities
    they have committed against people there and people here,” said Marlene
    Alejandre-Triana, the daughter of Armando Alejandre, one of four killed
    during the 1996 Brothers-to-the-Rescue shoot-down by Cuba’s military.

    The event, arranged by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart
    and Carlos Curbelo — all Cuban-American Republicans from Miami — came in
    advance of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and
    during a week that U.S. diplomats begin historic talks in Havana about
    the initial steps to open the nations’ respective embassies and thaw
    relations that have been frozen for half a century.

    Attending the event were Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García
    Pérez, known as Antúnez, and his wife, Yris Pérez Aguilera, who are
    among the more outspoken of Cuba’s dissidents. Both were scheduled to be
    guests of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner at Tuesday night’s State of
    the Union address.

    Asked what he’d say to the president if he could speak to him directly,
    Antúnez said through a translator, “I would tell President Obama that
    these agreements, these negotiations … are illegitimate. Engagement with
    the Castro regime only strengthens the Castro regime.”

    Antúnez spent more than 17 years in jail as a political prisoner after
    being arrested for denouncing the Castro regime. He was released in
    April 2007. His wife is also a human rights activist in Cuba, and she
    has worked to help homeless women and children find places to live.

    Their presence Tuesday in Washington — at the invitation of Boehner —
    should show how serious Congress is in opposing the White House’s Cuba
    policy, Diaz-Balart said.

    “You have the president, who is turning his back on the future leaders
    of the Cuban people in order to appease and placate and give concessions
    to the Castro regime,” Diaz-Balart said in an interview.

    “And yet Congress — through the speaker — is showing solidarity not with
    the oppressors but with those who have suffered from the abusers,” he
    said. “That’s a very telling difference between Congress showing
    solidarity with the oppressed and President Obama showing solidarity
    with the oppressors.”

    Triana was a guest of Ros-Lehtinen for the State of the Union.

    Another high-profile guest at the speech was Alan Gross, the American
    aid worker who was freed from a Cuban prison last year as the Obama
    administration and Castro government announced their historic moves. He
    was the guest of the White House, sitting in the box with First Lady
    Michelle Obama.

    Ros-Lehtinen said Gross was a “fitting and proper” guest – but that she
    wanted to show more. “We wanted to show in addition to the Castro regime
    imprisoning Alan Gross — a totally innocent man — that regime also has
    been putting in prison activists like Antunez and his wife,” she said.

    Source: Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan | The
    Miami Herald –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article7811046.html