Cuba deal worries some Cubans, insults others

Upon hearing news of the historic diplomatic opening between Cuba and the United States after a half century of hostility– announced concurrently by U.S. president Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro,–families of victims shot down by Cuban planes in 1996 denounced the deal. SEE ALSO: Pope Francis helped make US-Cuba deal a reality In the Cuban exile community of South Florida, resistance to the normalization of relations in Miami has been historically strong, but U.S. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and the families feel that in the chess game of international diplomacy, the prisoner exchange for Alan Gross and an unnamed Cuban national for three Cubans convicted of spying is a lopsided deal. Families remember Brothers to the Rescue tragedy The families of Brothers to the Rescue pilots, shot down by Cuban MIGs over international waters on February 24, 1996, feel the president and the U.S. got too little in the exchange. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen joined the families Wednesday in denouncing the deal. Myriam de la Peña, whose son Mario was shot down by Cuban Air Force MIGs while searching for rafters over the Florida straits, says Obama disregarded the family’s many years of anguish: “They just don’t care what our feelings are. The [White House] is going to do what they’re going to do – irregardless.” They feel that convicted spies complicit in the loss of family members’ lives were traded for an innocent pawn like Gross, who was arrested by the Castro regime for delivering internet equipment to the Jewish community in Cuba and incarcerated for five years. Reopening old wounds in the Cuban exile community The unexpected announcement and secret talks between the Cuban and American presidents, and the intervention of Pope Francis as a catalyst are the salient aspects of the historic news. But the wake of the announcement brings many other issues to the fore. Maggie Alejandre, whose brother Armando was a U.S. veteran shot down by the Cuban Air Force, added, “These families have been equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, and some of us voted for Obama. So it’s not political.” “They are justifying what cannot be justified. Gross was unjustly jailed in Cuba. It cheapens and devalues the human lives on the island and is an insult to these families,” stated Ros-Lehtinen. Ros-Lehtinen noted that even if diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United states are restored, lifting the embargo would need congressional approval. SEE ALSO: What normalizing ties with Cuba means for America Now that Cuba will normalize relations with the U.S. as Vietnam and China did, only North Korea remains as a former communist state without diplomatic relations with the U.S.The post Cuba deal worries some Cubans, insults others appeared first on Voxxi.

Protesters outside of Cafe Versailles on Calle Ocho in Miami, decry the exchange of convicted Cuban spies, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, for USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who has been held by the Cuban government. The opening of US-Cuba relations is opening some old wounds for Cuban exiles. (AP Photo/El Nuevo Herald, Roberto Koltun)

Upon hearing news of the historic diplomatic opening between Cuba and the United States after a half century of hostility– announced concurrently by U.S. president Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro,–families of victims shot down by Cuban planes in 1996 denounced the deal.

SEE ALSO: Pope Francis helped make US-Cuba deal a reality

In the Cuban exile community of South Florida, resistance to the normalization of relations in Miami has been historically strong, but U.S. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and the families feel that in the chess game of international diplomacy, the prisoner exchange for Alan Gross and an unnamed Cuban national for three Cubans convicted of spying is a lopsided deal.

Families remember Brothers to the Rescue tragedy

The families of Brothers to the Rescue pilots, shot down by Cuban MIGs over international waters on February 24, 1996, feel the president and the U.S. got too little in the exchange. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen joined the families Wednesday in denouncing the deal.

Myriam de la Peña, whose son Mario was shot down by Cuban Air Force MIGs while searching for rafters over the Florida straits, says Obama disregarded the family’s many years of anguish: “They just don’t care what our feelings are. The [White House] is going to do what they’re going to do – irregardless.”

They feel that convicted spies complicit in the loss of family members’ lives were traded for an innocent pawn like Gross, who was arrested by the Castro regime for delivering internet equipment to the Jewish community in Cuba and incarcerated for five years.

Reopening old wounds in the Cuban exile community

The unexpected announcement and secret talks between the Cuban and American presidents, and the intervention of Pope Francis as a catalyst are the salient aspects of the historic news. But the wake of the announcement brings many other issues to the fore.

Maggie Alejandre, whose brother Armando was a U.S. veteran shot down by the Cuban Air Force, added, “These families have been equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, and some of us voted for Obama. So it’s not political.”

“They are justifying what cannot be justified. Gross was unjustly jailed in Cuba. It cheapens and devalues the human lives on the island and is an insult to these families,” stated Ros-Lehtinen.

Ros-Lehtinen noted that even if diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United states are restored, lifting the embargo would need congressional approval.

SEE ALSO: What normalizing ties with Cuba means for America

Now that Cuba will normalize relations with the U.S. as Vietnam and China did, only North Korea remains as a former communist state without diplomatic relations with the U.S.

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