Surely all of this has nothing to do with Russia! Right?
– President Obama “Normalizes” Relations With Cuba, Opens Diplomatic Channels; USAID Chief Resigns – Live Feed (ZeroHedge, Dec 17, 2014):
Odd… during a week when President Obama prepares to launch new sanctions against Venezuela and Russia, The White House admits, “It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba were severed in January 1961 after the rise of Fidel Castro and his Communist government. Mr. Obama has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba about reestablishing diplomatic relations and to begin the process of removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, which it has been on since 1982, the White House said.
President Obama will speak on the matter at 12:01ET….
The Good news…
Alan Gross. Back on U.S. soil. pic.twitter.com/Ut5jvdQGg2
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 17, 2014
Here’s The President in 2010… Statement by the President on the Human Rights Situation in Cuba
Recent events in Cuba, including the tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the repression visited upon Las Damas de Blanco, and the intensified harassment of those who dare to give voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans, are deeply disturbing.
These events underscore that instead of embracing an opportunity to enter a new era, Cuban authorities continue to respond to the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched fist.
Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people.
During the course of the past year, I have taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people and to signal my desire to seek a new era in relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba. I remain committed to supporting the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the Americas, and that should be universal to all human beings.
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And today, as Bloomberg reports,
White House says measures will “end our outdated approach,” promote change in Cuba consistent “with U.S. national security interests”
In coming mos., U.S. “will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part of the normalization process”
Initial step will involve U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks in Jan.
U.S. institutions will be allowed to open accounts at Cuban financial institutions for authorized transactions; U.S. credit, debit cards permitted for use by travelers to Cuba
Travelers can import $400 of goods from Cuba, no more than $100 of tobacco, alcohol combined
White House moving to expand exports of U.S. goods, services incl. building materials, agricultural equipment, communications devices
Lifts sanctions on Cuban nationals outside Cuba
Changes announced will be implemented via amendments to U.S. Treasury, Commerce Dept regulations
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“This is a moment of profound relief for Alan Gross and his family. Mr. Gross’ physical and mental health has declined severely as a result of his five-year imprisonment under difficult conditions. He should have been released immediately and unconditionally five years ago. He committed no crime and was simply working to provide internet access to Cuba’s small Jewish community. His imprisonment was cruel and arbitrary, but consistent with the behavior of the Cuban regime.
“Let’s be clear, this was not a “humanitarian” act by the Castro regime. It was a swap of convicted spies for an innocent American.
“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. There is no equivalence between an international aid worker and convicted spies who were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage against our nation. One spy was also convicted of conspiracy to murder for his role in the 1996 tragedy in which the Cuban military shot down two U.S. civilian planes, killing several American citizens. My heart goes out to the American families that lost love ones on that fateful day.
“Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips. I fear that today’s actions will put at risk the thousands of Americans that work overseas to support civil society, advocate for access to information, provide humanitarian services, and promote democratic reforms.
“This asymmetrical trade will invite further belligerence toward Cuba’s opposition movement and the hardening of the government’s dictatorial hold on its people. Let us all remind ourselves that an untold number of ordinary people yearning for democracy remain imprisoned by the exact same tormentors that have punished Alan Gross and they, along with all Cubans, deserve a free and liberated Cuba.”
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And then there is this…
Rajiv Shah, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, abruptly resigned on Wednesday after US and Cuba announced plans to normalize relations and exchange prisoners.
USAID oversaw secret US programs aimed at regime change in Cuba.
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