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President Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro, l. in Panama on April 11, 2015.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. April 13, 2015: Many here in the U.S. as well as across the Caribbean and Latin America may be cheering the historic meeting of U.S. President Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro over the weekend at the ATLAPA Convention Centerin Panama, but not everyone is happy.

Here in the U.S., the GOP Presidential hopefuls with Cuban roots were hopping made over Obama’s meeting with Castro at the first plenary meeting of the Seventh Summit of the Americas that place in Panama City, Panama on April 11th and included addresses from 14 Heads of State and Government, among them President Castro.

It was the first speech by a Cuban President at the meeting that brings together the 35 independent nations of the Hemisphere and came on the heels of the US State Department saying it is considering removing Cuba from its list of countries that are considered state sponsored terrorist states.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, slammed Obama’s meeting with Castro whom he called “the communist dictator of Cuba.”

“The President said today that his unprecedented meeting with Raul Castro was a step towards the future,” Cruz, born to a Cuban father in Canada said in a statement Saturday. “Unfortunately, he is leaving the Cuban people imprisoned in the past.”

“President Obama’s approach gives the Castros exactly what they want – economic relief and legitimacy on the international stage – and effectively abandons the pro-U.S. opposition. This President has shown he is willing to do what nine previous presidents of both parties would not: cave to a communist dictator in our own hemisphere,” the GOP Presidential hopeful added. “We should demand significant legal reform so that the Cuban government can no longer detain its citizens indefinitely with no process. We should demand that the political opposition to the Castros be included in any and all negotiations with Cuba, so their concerns will be addressed. And we should calibrate any relaxation of sanctions directly to the cessation of their human rights violations.”

Cuban American Senator Marco Rubio of Florida also slammed the meeting. “It’s ridiculous,” Rubio argued in an interview with Breitbart. “It doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how they can rationalize taking them off the list, other than the president’s desire to achieve a legacy issue that he’s the one that opened up Cuba and changed fifty years of policy.”

The two senators reaction are important since it would take a vote in the House to complete lifting of a 54-year U.S. embargo on Cuba inorder to  normalize fully U.S. ties with Cuba.

But the administration is pushing ahead as much as it can. The State Department last Thursday said it completed its review of Cuba’s place on its list of state sponsors of terror and sent its recommendation to the President. President Obama will review their findings and decide whether that status is still justified.

Indicted U.S. Senator Bob Menendez has slammed this moved calling it a “significant misstep in a misguided policy.”

“The Castro regime’s utter disregard for international security standards should not be rewarded with continued concessions from the United States, and any decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism must have close scrutiny by the Congress,” he said.

But at the meeting with Castro Saturday, Obama said some of the administration’s “immediate tasks include normalizing diplomatic relations and ultimately opening an embassy in Havana, and Cuba being able to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. so that our diplomats are able to interact on a more regular basis.”

But he also noted that the US “will continue to try to lift up concerns around democracy and human rights.”

Castro for his part said Cuba “could be persuaded of some things; of others, we might not be persuaded.”

And he reiterated that no one should entertain illusions.

“It is true that we have many differences.  Our countries have a long and complicated history, but we are willing to make progress in the way the President has described,” he said. “We can develop a friendship between our two peoples.  We shall continue advancing in the meetings which are taking place in order to reestablish relations between our countries.  We shall open our embassies.  We shall visit each other, having exchanges, people to people.  And all that matters is what those neighbors can do; we are close neighbors, and there are many things that we can have.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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