WASHINGTON, DC — It is the most significant development in US-Cuba relations in 50 years. President Obama announcing a major policy shift related to the communist island nation.
It started with the release of Alan Gross Wednesday.
He’d been held in Cuba after being convicted for attempting to stet up the internet illegally, to promote destabilizing activities.
Gross’ release spurs the start of the what President Obama calls the “normalization” of ties between the countries.
“After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach,” President Obama said.
That includes reopening embassies, easing travel and economic restrictions, allowing Americans to use their credit/debit cards in Cuba and allowing them to return to the States with Cuban goods — like their world-famous cigars.
Cuba’s leader Raul Castro gave credit to President Obama for finding a way for the two countries to work together.
“This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people,” Castro said.
But the historic move was not met without skepticism from republicans… including Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
“Today by conceding to the oppressors, this president and this administration have let the people of Cuba down,” Senator Rubio said.
And while the politics will continue to play out around the world, Alan Gross and his family remain thankful for the very first step.
“It was crucial to my survival knowing I was not forgotten,” Gross said.
This deal, however, stops short in one key area. The trade embargo against Cuba remains in place. President Obama would need Congress approval to lift that ban.