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After half a century of frozen US/Cuban relations due to the Cold War, President Obama yesterday announced a plan to re-establish diplomatic relations amid a prisoner exchange agreement with the Cuban government. The negotiations were aided in part by the country of Canada and assistance from the Vatican.

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Report from the Miami Herald:

The hard line dividing Miami and Havana, drawn more than half a century ago by Cuban exiles who shunned the dictatorship they left behind, suddenly softened Wednesday, leaving two stunned generations of Cuban Americans to grapple with what the future may hold.

President Barack Obama announced he would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after the communist regime led by Raúl Castro freed American political prisoner Alan Gross and other dissidents. That was welcome news to exiles but the president also agreed to a spy swap, the kind of deal stalwart Castro critics have long opposed.

Shock reverberated through Miami, the heart of the exile community, where detractors lambasted the policy shift — and the Democratic president — for what they called a betrayal. A frenzy of reporters and politicians descended on Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, a mecca of traditional anti-Castro sentiment.

Obviously this has caused shock waves in Washington and around the country with everyone under the sun responding either in favor of the move, or vehemently against such actions.

Politico has a good round-up of the 2016 presidential candidate responses here:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: As governor, Bush took a hard line against the Castro regime, and he reiterated that stance in a recent speech to the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC, a pro-embargo advocacy group. “I would argue that instead of lifting the embargo we should consider strengthening it again to put pressure on the Cuban regime,” Bush said. On Wednesday, he slammed Obama’s decision: “I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas): Cruz did not immediately issue a statement Wednesday, but it’s a good bet that he strongly opposes the president’s policy change. According to the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, Cruz is against lifting the embargo on Cuba. Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, fled Cuba for the United States as a teenager and made headlines in 2013 for comparing President Obama to Castro.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.): Paul has said little about the embargo on Cuba, although his views on foreign policy have tended to align with those of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who spoke out against the embargo in 2008 and 2012. In November, Paul’s office told the Wall Street Journal that Paul “had not recently taken a public position on the embargo.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.): Rubio immediately denounced the president’s move in strident terms, calling the deal “disgraceful” and vowing to block it when Congress returns in January. He also called Obama “the worst negotiator in modern U.S. history.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “I would like to see us move toward normalizing relations eventually and therefore more Americans back and forth. That’s something President Obama did and I supported the first term. … And I would like to see us move toward ending the embargo and trying to, by our example, by commerce, by all kinds of visits, you know, help the Cuban people have a different future,” Clinton said to Fusion’s Jorge Ramos in July.

Vice President Joe Biden: The vice president has not staked out an independent position on the Cuba embargo, but told the Cuban media outlet 14ymedio in May: “I cannot emphasize enough that Cuba’s continued detention of Alan Gross is a major impediment to improved relations between the United States and Cuba …We can be as creative as we like with our policy, but Alan’s case remains at the top of our list for resolution.”

See the entire story from Politico for responses from Carson, Huckabee, Santorum, Sanders, and O’Malley.

Update:

Rand Paul has now taken a position on the new policy, via the Associated Press:

Paul said in a radio interview with Tom Roten of News Talk 800 WVHU in Huntington, West Virginia, that many younger Cuban Americans support opening up trade with Cuba. He also said many U.S. farmers would back Obama’s moves because the country is a new market for their crops.

“The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked,” Paul said. “If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.

“In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea,” he said.

So there you go, Paul’s on record basically backing the move on the grounds that he believes the embargo has not achieved any goals.

21 COMMENTS

    • Let me pose this for the sake of discussion..

      If we’ve all now decided that the embargo hasn’t worked for 50 years, why continue with an embargo on Iran or anywhere else? Do they work or not?

      Is it that the embargo hasn’t worked or because Cuba has basically gotten around it with support from Russia, Venezuela, etc.. ?

      • The Cuban embargo was just Goliath beating up David out of spite. Stupid, wasteful, ineffective, and made us look ridiculous and worse.

        I think it has to do with purpose. The embargo on Iran is clear-cut: stopping the nuclear bomb there. Less clear is the embargo on Russia: what, exactly, do we expect them to do? Is it just to show that if they misbehave in the future, they’ll suffer? No one is saying to get out of Crimea, and they’re not saying get out of Ukraine.

        Actually, I was thinking about this the other day. Putin is now suggesting that he’ll put nukes in Crimea, to defend it, to make the “fruits of victory ashes in our mouths,” as JFK said.

        If they put nukes there, THAT could be the equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban nukes were also to prevent invastion. Cuba, like Crimea, is not defensible. If Putin put in nukes, the west could cut it off, requiring a “Berlin airlift” to give supplies.

        Of course, the difference is that Kruchev didn’t want war, whereas Putin might like to see what happens.

    • Sen. Rand Paul has sold his soul to the Chamber of Commerce in order to gain favor for his 2016 run. See the article below entitled ; ” The Courtship Or How Rand Paul Became a chamber Republican”

      • Bob — replying on Rand Paul only.

        Rand has not sold his soul (that’ an idiotic statement), but is laying the ground for “whatever” it takes to win the Presidency — so he can get us back on the right path.

        VERY, VERY SMART of him — for once a President, he can use the PROVEN tactic of: “Now that I have more information as US President, I’ll have to do a 180 on what I said before, and DO what MUST be done to save our Nation”! Flipping to do WHAT’S RIGHT will make him a hero.

        Obama used that tactic to do WHAT’S WRONG for our Nation …and became a villain!

        Bob — you get a C- for this post…sorry.

      • Bob: To answer your question:

        http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2014/12/19/sen-rubio-cuba-deal-will-imperil-national-security-us/

        In her Rubio interview, Megyn Kelly noted:
        “68 percent of the people in the most recent poll out of
        Florida International University say that they support what the
        president has done. They [Floridians] wanted this prior to it happening.”

        ————–
        Regarding the Cuba/Crimea comparison, it just was a mental exercise. Obviously, it’s not an exact comparison. My main point was that it would be quite possible to do an embargo there, but that the result would probably be the opposite, since Kruchev was trying to find Detente (he and Kennedy actually came to be friends, of a sort), whereas Putin gained his 80% popularity by being abusive.

        • “Khrushchev and Kennedy were friends ,of a sort” ???????? Rotflmao what history book did you get that from because there sure as hell isn’t an ounce of truth to it!

          • Bob: As usual, you see things so superficially. Kruschev at first thought JFK was too young–same age of his oldest son. But he was later impressed with JFK’s steel, and the Soviets always preferred to negotiate with tough characters–who could get treaties through the senate. (I suspect even you and I could be friends, if we had personal contact, not just talking past each other in these posts.)

            After the Cuban Missile crisis, the two realized how dangerous it is to “talk past each other,” and the two DID develop a respect and even “friendship of sorts,” according to Nina Kruschev, Nikita’s granddaughter:

            Addressing the idea that Khrushchev was unimpressed with Kennedy due to his age, Khrushcheva told HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps that after initial doubts, “He actually had a GREAT AFFINITY for President Kennedy.”

            Khrushchev was not the only one in the family who was impressed with JFK. Khrushcheva, who is a professor at The New School in New York, revealed this historical detail with Zepps:

            “My grandmother was absolutely IN LOVE WITH JFK, she thought he was fantastic. When he was killed, she wrote a personal note and personally brought it to the United States
            Embassy in Moscow to express her own tragedy, because she was very fond
            of JFK and his wife.”

        • Just as Vladimir Putin knows we won’t wage war over the Ukraine
          now, Khrushchev knew we wouldn’t do battle over Berlin. As President John Kennedy said of the wall, “It’s not a very nice solution but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”
          Nina Khrushcheva, granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, on
          the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,
          attempted to dispel myths about the Kennedy-Khrushchev relationship. Saying “after initial doubts, he actually had a great affinity for President Kennedy.” Adding further “My grandmother was absolutely in love with JFK, she thought he was fantastic. When he was killed, she wrote a personal note and personally brought it to the
          United States Embassy in Moscow to express her own tragedy, because she was
          very fond of JFK and his wife.”

          At a final meeting with Kennedy, Khrushchev stated: “Force will be met
          by force. If the US wants war, that’s its problem.” “Its up to the US
          to decide whether there will be war or peace.” “The decision to sign
          a peace treaty is firm and irrevocable, and the Soviet Union will sign it in
          December if the US refuses an interim agreement.” Kennedy responded:
          “Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold winter.”

          • Your quote while accurate was from their Vienna conference 3-4 1961 again as with Surfishers quote this was two months after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. So they may not have met after this but were involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

            • Bob…lost my first post so I will try to reconstruct it.
              The quote from Nina Khrushcheva is taken from her book The Lost Khrushchev.
              Dr. Nina L. Khrushcheva, the granddaughter, child of his oldest
              son, was reared by Nikita Khrushchev and his wife. She is a Jewish Russian
              American professor of international affairs at The New School (an elite Jewish
              University), and a professor at Columbia University. Her new book “Imagining
              Nabokov” will be published by Yale University Press this autumn.

              Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Nikita Khrushchev, is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He moved to
              the United States as an educator in the early 1990s and became a U.S. citizen
              in 1999.

              Right or wrong, I always looked upon Nikita Khrushchev as a shoe pounding bully but after reading her books I feel there might have been something more to his character. Else why would members of his family seek American refuge and citizenship.

              When you find time, get “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings Of John F. Kennedy.” (Hyperion Books.) It is John Kennedy’s exact words on the Cuban Missile Crisis and Civil Rights.

            • Tess;
              I don’t doubt that the family would reminisce fondly about their father/grandfather in a favorable light. But that’s not the picture I received when I read the book entitled “In Confidence” by Anatoly Dobrynin who was Moscow’s Ambassador to six American Cold War presidents. Premier Khrushchev was removed from both party and state post in October 1964 due to Soviet high politics in the post Stalin era and virtually overnight he became an un-person in the Soviet Union. In addition to Premier Khrushchev being purged his son in law Aleksei I. Adzhubri was disposed as Chief Editor of the government newspaper Izvestia. Perhaps this treatment was a contributing factor to the families defection to the West?

              I highly recommend the Dobrynin book for a behind the scenes look at what was happening on the other side. He was the Soviet Unions ambassador to the United States from Kennedy to Reagan.

            • Bob…Having visited New York State, and the great city of New York, less than a dozen times, perhaps I don’t speak the language. In Texas, we use the word “elite” when a University (school) has financial endowments of millions and more dollars. Both Columbia and New School meet that requirement.

              I did read “In Confidence.” The material in the book is like reading The National Security Archives housed at George Washington University. It is almost too unbiased except for descriptive passages on character traits of the people Anatoly Dobrynin had contact with. Anatoly Dobrynin was removed as Ambassador against his will by Mikhail Gorbachev and returned to Russia to serve in meaningless positions.

              I have read others calling Khruskchev an unperson. As an unperson, Nikita Khruskchev became the first Soviet leader (and the last until Mikhail Gorbachev) to write his memoirs, manage to get most of his material out to the West, where they were published as Khrushchev Remembers, in two volumes, just before and after his death in September 1971. Aleksei I. Adzhubri did resign as editor of Izvestia but went on to edit another Russian newspaper until his death and helped to edit all three volumes of the Khruskchev’s memoirs.

              You’re probably right that I don’t really know why the two Khruskchev’s defected or why they viewed their father favorably. Similarly, no one knows why Stalin’s daughter defected to the west or why Margaret Thatcher’s son “hung out” in Texas. Maybe just freedom.

            • Tess: First let me clarify that I was referring to the “New” School when I said my wife attended classes there and “while prestigious could hardly be called elite”. To us “elite’ also means money but more on a personal basis. An elite school is one which there is no way we can afford to get into. Or a school that teaches a specialized field that we wouldn’t qualify for. Having been in the military and serving in Texas among other places I am familiar that terminologies often differ for the same items. A case in point while in Texas I learned that what we call dungarees you call blue jeans. Simply having millions of dollars in financial endowments is start up money for any University now a days.

  1. TOLD YOU SO DEPARTMENT:
    Many times, I’ve said that America wants its president to be ACTIVE, even if they don’t like what he does. Best example was that the public was about 78% against invading Iraq, but his popularity went up, anyway, when he did.

    I said Obama should have done these things last year, so that the GOP would have had to respond to him, instead of just criticize things he did long ago. It’s important to grab the initiative. For the past month, despite the election, people have been talking about immigration and Cuba, among other Obama initiatives.

    Now comes the proof. Obama’s approval rating was 40% six weeks ago. It has shot up to 47%, according to Gallup. That still sucks, but we should remember that Reagan’s approval was 48% at this point. And W was at 37%.

    http://www.aol.com/article/2014/12/23/president-obamas-approval-rating-hits-2014-high-water-mark/21120493/

    If Obama continues to push the envelope, he will continue to rise–for better or worse. We just likes our prez to be like Harrison Ford, “get–off–my–plane!”

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