Reaction to release of Alan Gross, future US-Cuba relations

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reaction to the release of American Alan Gross who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years, and the future of US-Cuba diplomatic relations:

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“It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. Even if that worked— and it hasn’t for 50 years— we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.” —President Barack Obama.

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“We should learn the art of living together in a civilized manner in spite of our differences.” — Cuban President Raul Castro.

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“There is no ‘new course’ here; only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies.” —House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

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“I am hopeful that the Cuban government’s decision to release Alan Gross portends a desire to move toward democracy, openness, engagement, rule of law, and a free civil society.” — Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

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“This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba.” —Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

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“Alan’s return home also sends a message to Americans held around the world that our nation will not rest until they come home.” — Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

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“Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.” — Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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“Opening the door with Cuba for trade, travel, and the exchange of ideas will create a force for positive change in Cuba that more than 50 years of our current policy of exclusion could not achieve.” — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

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“Alan Gross was not a spy and he was not a soldier, and he was unfairly detained for far too long … He was a humanitarian working to ensure Cubans could experience some of the freedoms we enjoy every day.” — Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

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“We can never erase the history between us, but we believe that you should be empowered to live with dignity and self-determination.” — President Barack Obama.

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