Alan Gross was released today from a Cuban prison where he was held for five years. Gross, an employee of USAID (United States Agency of International Development) was accused by the Cuban government of espionage for bringing telecommunication devices into Cuba and sentenced to 15 years.
According to Alan Gross himself, Pope Francis interceded between Obama and Raul Castro to facilitate his release, which concludes more than a year of secret negotiations between the two governments and indicates the beginning of a new relationship with Cuba. According to The White House there are ongoing talks on everything from easing travel and commerce restrictions to lifting the Cuban embargo, in place since John F Kennedy was President.
While everyone rejoices at Gross’s return to this country and his family, not everyone applauds Obamas’s new stand on the future of US/Cuba relations–he has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to reopen the American Embassy in Havana.
Marco Rubio, Republican Senator from Florida, called Obama “the worst negotiator in modern U.S. history” and considers the President’s move to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba as “naive and ignorant of the way the world works.” Along the same line, Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and possible Presidential candidate in the next elections, said, “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime.”
The issue of changing America’s policy toward Cuba is a heated topic among Cuban-Americans. While many side with Rubio and Bush, many in that community support Obama’s proposal, believing that lifting the embargo will help Cuba move toward democracy.
Today, I received an email from a man who fled Cuba and came to this country when he was only 8 yrs-old. Referring to the embargo, he said, “the law is antiquated…put in place half a century ago to destroy Fidel, time we reconsider. ” He echoed what Hilary Clinton had said of the embargo, “it’s been a terrible failure.”
The fact is that it’s hard to tell what will happen in Cuba if the embargo is lifted. Will the Castro regime continue its brutal treatment of those who oppose the government?
In the U.S., we have the freedom to express our different political opinions. This has not been the case in Cuba, a situation no none knows will change if the embargo is lifted and our diplomatic relations with Cuba is renewed.
How do you feel about Alan Gross’s release from prison? Do you think Cuba did not concede enough in these negotiations?
Do you believe lifting the embargo will enhance or worsen political freedom in Cuba?