|Article in Spanish on CubaEncuentro. Video of interview.|
Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, has a sharply different view.
He believes Obama’s decision to loosen travel and remittances restrictions to Cuba in April 2009, then again in January, has only prolonged the life of the socialist government. He said:
I don't think the American policy is aggressive at all. The president has gone out of his way to allow Cuban-Americans to go to Cuba (and to allow them to send money to the island). But I am sorry to say that those efforts by the president are probably interpreted by some key figures in Havana as a weakness.And whenever the U.S. shows weakness - or makes a concession, Cuba responds with a hostile act, the latest being the jailing of Alan Gross, Calzon said.
I assume that the president sees that imprisonment as a slap in his face after having done so much to try to reach an accommodation. The Cuban government doesn't understand what the word compromise is. The Cuban government believes that it is all or nothing - all for them and nothing for the others.Calzon said the U.S. must be willing to take a stronger stand, like a child defending himself from bullies who want his lunch money.
If you let them take it away from you, you'll be giving away your lunch money every day. That lesson...is something that American diplomats should take to heart.His recommendation?
Castro understands force. I think the administration should get tougher with the regime.
When someone like Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is denied a visa to travel outside the U.S., American authorities should refuse entry to "any of these folks that the Cuban government would love to send to the United States to badmouth the United States."
Eventually, Calzon said, the U.S. will have a list of hundreds of Cubans who are waiting for permission to travel to attend conferences or artistic events.
Why should Cuban musicians, basically Cuban government musicians, be singing and dancing in New York while an American remains in prison in Cuba?
At one point when Fidel Castro understands that there are 2,500 of these people who cannot travel to the United States, he might decide that it's worthwhile allowing Mr. Gross to come home.