Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Rubio – Cuba taking advantage of U.S.

    Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S.
    By Marco Rubio
    Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT) February 2, 2015

    Story highlights
    Sen. Marco Rubio: Castro regime wants even more in exchange for nothing
    When dealing with tyrants, you can’t wear them down with kindness, Rubio
    says

    Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is a member of the Senate
    Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. The opinions expressed in
    this commentary are solely those of the author.

    (CNN)In “The Godfather Part II,” Michael Corleone famously responds to a
    U.S. senator’s demands by saying, “My offer is this: nothing.”

    Since President Barack Obama announced his normalization deal with the
    Cuban regime in December, life appears to be imitating art. Last week,
    Cuban President Raul Castro declared that his regime would not even
    entertain the Obama administration’s requests to normalize ties until
    the United States abandons our naval base at Guantanamo Bay, ends the
    trade embargo, ceases pro-democracy radio and television broadcasts into
    Cuba and compensates the regime for “human and economic damages” the
    U.S. has, according to him, inflicted on the Cuban people. Last month,
    the regime’s lead negotiator summed up its position even more succinctly
    after the first round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks in Havana,
    saying, “Change in Cuba is not negotiable.”

    In other words, emboldened by the first wave of concessions Obama gave
    the Castro regime in the form of access to more U.S. dollars, it wants
    even more in exchange for nothing.

    When dealing with tyrants, you can’t wear them down with kindness. When
    that approach is attempted and one-sided concessions are made, tyrants
    don’t interpret them as good faith gestures. They interpret them as
    weakness. This is a lesson the Obama administration has failed to learn
    from its dealings with Iran, North Korea and Russia, and even terrorists
    such as the Taliban.

    On Tuesday, the American people will have their first opportunity to
    hear from the Obama administration about its dealings with the Castro
    regime when I chair a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations
    Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs. I look forward
    to hearing the perspectives of State Department officials, even though I
    am already concerned by the administration’s reluctance to allow the
    American people to hear directly from the two White House officials who
    negotiated the deal with the Castro regime over the course of 18 months
    of secret negotiations, and without the input of our government’s top
    diplomats and negotiators.

    Many important questions remain about what exactly the Castro regime has
    done in exchange for Obama’s softening of travel and banking regulations
    that will now allow more U.S. dollars to fill the Castro regime’s
    coffers. For example, it’s unclear why, with all the economic leverage
    it initially brought to the table, the administration apparently
    accepted a deal to free conditionally 53 political prisoners — many of
    whom were released, but with charges pending or were threatened with
    more jail time if they renew their pro-democracy work. Indeed, some have
    already reportedly been rearrested in addition to hundreds of new
    detentions since the December announcement.

    Questions also remain about what, if anything, the administration has
    done to secure the repatriation of what the FBI estimates to be more
    than 70 fugitives from justice being provided safe harbor in Cuba,
    including known cop killers such as Joanne Chesimard. Also unknown is
    what, if anything, the administration intends to do to secure billions
    of dollars’ worth of outstanding American property claims and judgments
    against the Cuban government. The list of questions and concerns like
    these goes on and on.

    In recent months, I’ve made clear that I believe the President and his
    allies in Congress are misguided for supporting a policy that gives away
    practically all the leverage the United States has to bring about
    democratic change in Cuba in exchange for virtually nothing. While
    reasonable people can disagree on the merits of what U.S.-Cuba policy
    should be in the 21st century, no serious person can argue that America
    is stronger when we give a cruel regime such as the one in Cuba
    everything it wants from the United States, including money it uses to
    repress its opponents, while we get nothing in return except more
    anti-American bluster from a geriatric dictator.

    With Cuba in the news recently, many Americans are asking why Cuba
    matters to them and why they should care. The simple answer is that what
    happens with Cuba has far-reaching and potentially damaging implications
    far beyond the island nation. Cuba is not the only rogue regime with
    which Obama is engaging in an attempt to end bad behavior. When America
    sits at the negotiating table with one tyrant or radical regime, the
    others — from Iran to North Korea and elsewhere — watch closely and
    learn best practices that they can apply to advance their own
    anti-American agendas. Just as the Cuban regime reportedly cited our
    swap of five members of the Taliban in the negotiations for Alan Gross’
    release, the Iranians watched how North Korea exploited U.S. diplomacy,
    slow-walked negotiations and ultimately achieved their goal of
    developing a nuclear weapon.

    There should therefore be no doubt that regimes around the world will be
    looking to emulate the Castro regime’s so far successful efforts to take
    advantage of Obama’s weaknesses and to undermine the U.S. role as the
    world’s leading economic and military power.

    When the President settles for one-sided deals with the Castro regime,
    it hurts the Cuban people and their aspirations for freedom. When Obama
    allows the Castro regime to get the best of him in negotiations, it
    emboldens tyrants around the world. As the President’s engagement with
    the Castro regime continues, I will do all I can to ensure that his
    “normalization” does not come at all costs, becoming yet another
    instance of a failed foreign policy that makes America weaker in the
    world and, ultimately, less safe.

    Source: Rubio: Cuba taking advantage of U.S. – CNN.com –
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/02/opinion/rubio-cuba-embargo/