In the most significant shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba in 50 years, President Barack Obama announced that the two countries will begin talks to restore diplomatic relations. The announcement by Obama followed the release of American government contractor, Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years. After five decades of isolation failed to establish democracy and prosperity in the island country, Obama declared that he was going to relax travel, banking, and commerce restrictions.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer Wednesday morning that he is glad Gross is returning to U.S. soil but disagreed with the exchange of three Cuban prisoners because of the precedent it sets.
“We’re all glad that Mr. Gross is going to be back with his family. He never did anything wrong. He was not a spy. He was not a criminal. He was a hostage. And it’s unfortunate that the Cuban government held him for five years and basically almost killed him in captivity. I’m not in favor of the process by which his release was acquired because I think it does set a very dangerous precedent. It puts a price on every American abroad. Governments now know that if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States.”
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Senior U.S. officials claim that Gross was released for humanitarian reasons after five years of captivity in a Cuban prison. The three Cubans–Ramón Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, and Gerardo Hernandez–were being released in exchange for an “intelligence asset” after they were arrested in 1998 for being part of a spy network.
Rubio criticized the Cuban regime, saying that the Cuban people will not enjoy freedom.
“They’re creating no economic openings. There is no concessions on freedom of speech, no concessions on elections, no concessions on the freedom to have alternative political parties, no concessions on ever having elections or anything of that matter. What democratic concessions?”
“It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran, or in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing.”
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“Barack Obama is the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president, since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the modern history of this country.”
The Florida Senator, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, will be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in January.
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