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tv   News  Al Jazeera  December 17, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EST

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i'm ali velshi. thank you for joining us. >> hi everyone, this is al jazeera america. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. connecting with cuba. the u.s. moves to restore relations. moving forward, what it could mean for both countries in our special report. plus sony fallout, putting the brakes on a controversial movie. and body cameras, police adapt the new technology, the opportunities and the challenges.
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just 90 miles away. cuba has seen a world apart from the u.s. for decades. today, president obama said it's time for a change. >> today america chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future for cuban people, for the american people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world. >> since the kennedy administration the u.s. has isolated cuba, politically and economically. now the president has announced an historic shift: he will restore full diplomatic relations and open an embassy in havana. cuba's president raul castro hailed the agreement but pointed out the u.s. economic embargo is still in place. >> translator: this does not mean that the main issue has been resolved. the economic, social and
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political issues should end. >> tonight the world reacts. many in support. many others criticizing the move. and we begin in miami, florida has the largest population of coupe an americans in the u.s. reaction -- cuban americans in the u.s. morgan radford is in miami tonight, morgan. >> this is an historic moment in miement. i'miami. i'm standing outcafe versailles. obama is a murderer just like the castros, but there are two people here among the handful of people who actually are in support of what obama has done today. i want to introduce them to you. why do you think he did that? >> a change of policy.
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almost 60 years of policy that hasn't worked. the embargo doesn't quornlg wor. i spoke to my mother in cuba today who is 90. when obama was speaking on tv today which was amazing, she could hear people clapping and cheering, they were so happy. it was a window of hope. >> i was actually living in cuba the year before obama was elected and the last year of fidel's presidency. they figured if any president would understand them it would be obama. we were talking about the vitriol on the other hand, using pro vok voprovocative language e obama. >> when people are going to bring an argument they are always going to use that kind of
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language. there are almost 2 million cubans living in america. the majority of them they think like me. they think it's about to make a change. and that's what obama today did that change. and when i wake up this morning right, and i was opening the papers and i saw that -- >> but some are saying this change is not what you promised us. many in miami said you promised us this embargo would stay.90 he's saying no, not so much. >> it's a process. when you analyze the entire relationship of the whole thing of the embargo and how the embargo is being made and built, it's very complicated for the president to go forward. >> it is complicated. >> it is complicated. >> but that's the thing the people did not say the president handled the issues properly.
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we'll go back to you john. >> mike viqueria with more. mike. >> john, an imprisoned american a long sought change in policy by the obama administration, secret talks brokered by the pope and finally an unprecedented phone call lasting up to an hour between president obama yesterday and cuban leader raul castro, it all led to today, a dramatic and historic moment. this was the moment of freedom. a u.s. government plane touching down at a military base outside washington. on the flight: alan gross. at home with friends and family. his release was president obama's long sought goal. mr. obama made his announcement. >> we will end and outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin
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onormalize relations between our two countries. >> reporter: the president proposes opening an embassy in havana, closed since 1961. loosening restrictions on travel, money transfers to relatives and communications. and beginning the process of removing cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. the proposal was met with immediate opposition. including from florida senator marco rubio, a cuban american, thinking about a 2016 run for the white house. >> this president is the single worst negotiate we have had in the white house in my lifetime who has basically given the cuban government everything it asked for. and received no assurances of democracy in return. >> rubio and others vowed to block the president, who needed to open an embassy in havana. lifting the long standing trade
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embargo with cuba, republicans are unlikely to go along. the white house insists alan gross was released on humanitarian grounds. that he was there for espionage against the cuban government. a spy swap, one cuban who had been spying for america for several years and been in jail for 20 years in a cuban prison, released. the united states released three cubans it held in the united states, john. >> what do you know about the secret talks that went into the deal? >> it's remarkable. the president and pls obama mrsa visited the vatican. and part of the visit was because the pope wanted to have normalized relations.
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the pope an ar je an ar yen arg, emissaries from both governments, cuban and american met in november at the vatican. finally yesterday, that phone call between president obama, unprecedented in tbh 50 years, a phone call between the two leaders, sealed the deal leading to today's announcement. john. >> all right, mike viqueria, thank you very much. since the cuban revolution, jimmy carter is the only former president to visit cuba. joining us by telephone is former president jimmy carter. give us the reaction to the news about cuba. >> some of the best news i've
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had in years. long overdue. it's going to be good for the people of the united states and also for the people of cuba. i'm very proud of president obama for having made such a wise and courageous decision. is as expected, he'll have a lot of opposition from right wing committee people who won't see anything good in what he does. but these are some of the longs overdue things i've espoused. since i was in office many years ago, i tried very much to have the same thing happen and we did establish intersections in both havana and also washington, and the last time i was in cuba, i found about over 300 people there working in what would be the u.s. embassy. now and can be now the u.s. embassy. and also lifted all the restraints on travel when i was president but it was reinserted. so this is a wonderful achievement and it's the kind of
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exercise of presidential authority in recognizing another government over which the congress cannot change. >> you said it's good for americans good for cubans. talk specifically about what it means for cubans. >> we have had for over 60 years a very harsh economic embargo or sanctions that have been very difficult for the 11 or 12 million cuban people to live with. and what's happened is that we've just punished them, and the castro brothers have used this economic sanctions, to give excuses for all of the difficulties that the cuban people have experienced because of the communist restrains. this will give them a better life but also open up for farmers, particularly those in georgia, for new trade, buying
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raw materials for cuba, selling them our corn our chickens and other things already arntiond. arranged. i've been there three times now and met with fidel and raul for long extended conversations. it seems that this exchange of prisoners and a lifting of the sanctions would be a very good move. president obama has used a full extent of his own executive authority very wisely, and i don't have any doubt that it will prevail. >> former president jimmy carter. president obama says he plans to extend economic ties with cuba. that step could help both countries. david arioso is with us in the studio. david what could it mean for american businesses? >> i think if you are a businessman and own a company in america, you've got to be
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salivating. there is a clear cut market here. it's not going to open up with this but what we're looking at is normalization of relations here. if you are in the cigar business or fond of cuban cigars you can get them 100 to founder dollars in cuban goods. but cuba has a lot of trade with the united states. it is a one way trade, a lot of people don't know that bus that's the case. -- but that's the case. for many americans this is the picture of cuba. a rhythm infused culture known for its classic cars and cigars. a bygone era. a economy that dates back to the eisenhower days, cuba is forbidden. if you think the markets are totally off limits to u.s.,
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think again. >> for two years nearly the u.s. has been free to sell agricultural commodities to cuba and has. it sold as much as three quarters of a billion dollars a year, less in recent years but that trade does go on. >> last year u.s. exports to cuba totaled $350 million, making the united states the largest importer of food. often come from farmers and ranchers in places like nebraska and ohio. >> cargill is probably the biggest single exporter and that is bulk commodities, soybeans, corn, primarily. as a big export is tyson's chicken. cuba buys a lot of chicken pieces. >> reporter: last year the u.s. sold $144 million of chicken, and agribusiness states have sold corn soy and beef to
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the island. tom donahue, head of the u.s. chamber of commerce likely had in mind when he head a delegation in maize. >> it is time to begin a new chapter of u.s. cuban relations. >> many mid western congressmen and senators have been trying for years to further liberalize. because the market could be much larger than it is. >> reporter: now, listen this is an executive action that president obama has taken but there is only so much the white house can do. lifting ang embargo has to be made by congress. ultimately this is a decision that will be decide by the american people. >> how long will any of this take? >> well the obama administration has got those machination he inn place. especially when working with cuban companies how they will actually do business particularly in the banking sector, cuban american tourist
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is are going to use their banking cards, now it's a cash only system, the cuban economy is infused, if you are a spanish company you want to partner with the cuban government you've got to work through the army. same with the chinese. that is not the thing the u.s. lawmakers are all that familiar with. there was excitement today. church bells ringing around havana, that is something i haven't experienced when i lived two years in cuba. >> alan gross was convicted of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison. said he visited the island to deliver equipment to its small jewish community. today gross blamed both sides for the decades of tension. >> five and a half decades of history show us such belligerence inhibits better judgments. two wrongs neveropee that we ct
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beyond these mutually belligerent policies, i was very happy to hear what the president had to say. it was particularly cool to be sitting next to the secretary of state as he was hearing about his job description for the next couple of months. in all seriousness this is a giem changer which i fully -- game changer which i fully support. >> antonio mora was born in cuba host of "consider this," in our studios tonight. antonio, welcome. give me your reaction. your family has been through this. are they split? are they unified? >> my family is split down the middle like i suspect many cuban american families are split. i have got some who could not be more supportive of michelle of t obama. they feels nothing has changed they believe it is time for
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change, if we want to help the cuban people this is the way to do it because openness and you know might help bring down or at least reduce the repression from that government. on the other hand i've got some who are traditional conservatives who feel we should not deal with a government that is traditionally tyrannical. >> feeling strongly that the u.s. shouldn't do this and the younger folks -- >> to a way there is a bit of a split that way. but one poll from florida national university says 90% of younger cuban americans want diplomatic relations established so there is certainly a generational split. >> they didn't suffer the way their parents and grandparents did under castro right? >> they don't remember the people who were killed, it hasn't been a part of their lives while it has of course been a part of the older generation. >> do people die and then the
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new generation takes over? or is it really about what's going on in the country? >> well that's certainly part of what's happened. is the people who were there in 1959 when castro came into power, many have died. so i think part of it is that and the disconnection that the younger people have with the suffering that many people went through. >> what was -- give us your feelings when you heard the news this morning. >> i was stunned. i wasn't expecting it and i immediately just couldn't help but start texting and calling people to find out what was going on. one of my siblings is fairly well connected with cuba and trying to find out what he was hearing. >> ploacial? >> very emotional.l? from the pictures we've seen all day. >> antonio, good to see you thank you very much. >> u.s. and cuba, more of my review with former president jimmy carter, reaction around the world and the impact of u.s.
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sanctions on cuban culture. but there's much more news, reports that cuba may be behind the hacks on sony pictures. now sony is cancelled the release of a new movie which mocks north korean president. roxana saberi has more. >> john the report says that u.s. intelligence officials have concluded that the north korean government was very involved in the hacking. deeply saddened by efforts to stop the interview from being seen. but the company also lashed out at the hackers who threatened to lash out 9/11 attacks on the screeners of the movie. >> you want us to kill the leader of north korea? >> sony says it's extremely spoitd it won't release this -- disappointed it won't release this movie the interview. hackers called themselves the guardians of peace hacked sony. one day after the group released
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a warning online threatening a 9/11 attack on theaters showing the movie. that caused many large theerdz saying they won't screen the movie at least for now. sony says it understands. it's been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault. those who attacked us stole our intulintellectual property . no credible intelligence of a plot against movie theaters in the united states. sony is reeling. >> there have been things that have made hollywood studios change distribution of movies but nothing like you know an attack that may come from a inflation-state forcing its hand on a movie that is really just a comedy. you know, this is almost
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unimaginable. but you know, certainly it's a tough situation for them. >> sony did not say that it would never release the interview in theaters. we are seeing reports that the white house is still debating to publicly cufs nortpublicly accuf cyber terrorism. john. >> serious question about police body cameras.
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a .
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>> new york state now says it will ban hydraulic fraking. governor andrew quomo made the statement today citing health concerns. can contaminate the air and water. fracking supporters say it can help create jobs. police spent the last year testing body cameras. some were in favor of the cameras. others called them a violation of privacy.
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robert ray reports. >> a suspect on heroin. a police officer with a body camera recording every minute of the violent encounter. >> you don't want to do this. >> stop! >> reporter: nationwide, police departments are testing deploying and preparing to use body cameras as evidence like here in atlanta. >> there were some folk who love -- >> but the city's outspoang outn raphael warknock of ebenezer baptist church. >> turning it off when engaged in active police work? these are the kinds of questions that we will be raising. >> after the eric garner grand jury decision, he and others met with attorney general acre
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holder and the mayor of atlanta. >> this was a kick in the gut. it underscored the way in which video is critically important but it's not whole solution. >> reporter: inside the atlanta pd's technology and innovation center, engineers have been testing tie testing ft cameras. >> whether it's a camera on, they modify their behavior to the best. >> real world situations on the street of atlanta. >> we have a couple of officers who were very reluctant at the beginning to use these cameras. >> reporter: some officers have concerns that mirror those of the community leaders including their own privacy. >> it's a balancing act and i believe it's not an easy question to answer. >> reporter: many officers have been turning the cameras off when on lunch breaks or
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other private moments. but civic leaders like warknock want the cameras on at all times. >> if you can turn it off at any time and there's no repercussions for turning it off, it becomes a device to collect police evidence but not the kind of protection you need on both sides of that dynamic. >> reporter: and in the next three to five years, perhaps sooner, according to officials, retime body cameras could be in play, making decisions whether to deploy more officers or get an accurate picture of the scene. >> right now it comes with a cost. right now the apd plans to equip officers with cameras. >> an enormous amount of data and no one has the full proof data solution just yet. >> one year of storage the
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estimated price is over $500,000. >> so in the interest of transparency, and complete accountability we need body cams without the on and off switch. that is critically important. >> the atlanta police are urging the city to the purchase in early 2015. if the council approves, atlanta will be on the cutting edge of using body cams. robert ray, al jazeera, atlanta. >> coming up next our special report: u.s. and cuba a new era, the historic relations, what it means and why some people are angry about it. plus more of my conversation with former president jimmy carter. why he says the changes are a good idea.
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>> just 90 miles from the u.s., cuba seemed a world away for decades until today. >> we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. >> secret talks between havana and washington, the prisoner exchange. >> i'm incredibly blessed. >> and now the historic deal. tonight what it means for both
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countries. for the future. >> this president is the single worst negotiator we've had in the white house. >> for the people on both sides. our special report: the u.s. and cuba, a new era. >> hi everyone i'm john siegenthaler. conflict between the u.s. and cuba, the origination go back to the worst days of the cold war . some of the defining moments of the last half century. the bay of pigs invasion, the cuban missile crisis and now a an attempt to repair the damage. >> today america chooses to cut laos the shackles of the past for a better future, for the cube an people for the american people. >> the historic deal announced today by president obama. it will restore full dploik relations -- diplomatic relations between the countries. as cuba's president raul castro
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pointed out, the economic embargo remains in place. >> the economic commercial and financial blockade should end. >> tonight the world reacts. >> we begin in the center of cuban american life. miami. there are far more cubans living in florida than anywhere else in the u.s. morgan radford studied in cuba. she joins us from little havana. morgan. >> here i am in the heart of little havana in front of cafe versailles. where do we go from here? it's interesting, a lot of people are behind me are carrying signs, obama you promised us one thing and gave us another. i want to give you a reaction from someone who said obama got it right and someone who says
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obama got it wrong. >> another very bad deal. >> why? >> the same thing he did you remember when he released one american soldier for four high ranking taliban murders. today he released three convicted murders, here in miami's spies, cuban spies for what, for one person? >> you're wearing this obama tee shirt. do you think what happened today was a good move on the president's part? >> definitely. i think it will be historic. i cry when i see obama's speech it was so moving. he talked to the people in cuba, people o of cuba. about freedom of expression all these things we're seeing in cuba today. >> john it's interesting because the woman you saw speaking there came here when she was 12 years old, her mother sent her from cuba and her mother stayed behind. the interesting generational
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component, the people who came out are probably in their 50s or 60s they're part of the brain drain. when fidel castro had his revolution in the 50s he tried to redistribute things from the upper to the lower classes, 600 miles of are owed were built in his first -- of roads were built in his first six months. what's happened now is a violation of what we believe this country would offer us. >> morgan, thank you very much. the deal was negotiated during 18 months of secret talks. sr. washington correspondent mike viqueria joins us, mike. >> loosening many of the restrictions that have been in place for a long time both in terms of communication, exchanges, the amount of money that can be remitted from cuban americans living in florida for
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example to their relatives and friends back home. but it's been around the margins. these talks accelerated, you're right they've been going on for 18 months but it wasn't until march 27th to be exact when president obama on a tour of europe went to the vatican and met behind closed doors with poafs. it was there -- with pope francis, we learned they had a discussion about liberalizing restrictions and improving relations between the united states and cuba. pope francis after all is from argentina, from the latin american world. this has been a cause of his for million years. fast forward, at the behest of pope francis and the good offices of canada as well which has a business interest and economic interest of promoting trade between united states and cuba, asking them to come together, the two sides met in secret in the vatican, in
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october, just before the mid term elections, john. and then, it was just yesterday when the deal was sealed. president obama in an unprecedented phone call, 45 minutes to an hour in duration, we're told from the whow with raul castro, they sealed the deal and then earlier this morning the flight to freedom for alan gross. >> mike viqueria from washington, thank you very much. former president jimmy carter tried to normalize relations with cuba in the 1970s. i asked him why it took so long. >> we didn't have normal relations. cuba would not desist for trying to subvert a lot of the governments in this hemisphere towards communism. and it also sent large numbers of troops to places in africa
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including ethiopia. those are things that hindered full recognition. but fidel castro and i agreed at that time of taking as much as we could, that's when we established intersections in havana and washington. they have been open to all successive presidents since that time. >> president carter you traveled to cuba and you met with president castro and his brother raul. did you get a sense they would be open to this? >> yes, they made the proposition then that basically has been accepted now. and that is that the three cuban prisoners in florida would be released. that alan would be released. i met with him while i was down there, he was in prison then. and that the sanctions be
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lifted. so i think this has been a potential realization for a long time. and i'm very glad that president obama finally decided to do it on his own initiative. >> you know there's been plenty of criticism today for this move on the part of president obama, particularly from senator rubio. does this give legitimacy to castro's regime in your opinion? >> no, it doesn't. as a matter of fact it wasn't a matter of exchange for the prisoners which i just described. i talked to john kerry earlier this morning about this coming announcement and he made it proclaim as did president obama on television, at noon, that it was not a swap for alan gross for the three prisoners but it was the exchange of a three prisoners of an unnamed and very precious very valuable american assistant who was in prison for
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20 years, about whom i did not know, by the way. i think the whole gamut of arrangements have been collectively balanced and i said in my interview with you i think it would be very good for both countries. i see a very wonderful boost for cuba in american tourism and boost for american farmers and others that i already mentioned in normal trade relationships with our nearest neighbors except for mexico and canada. >> what does it mean for russia and influence in this region. >> well, this will greatly increase the american influence. as a matter of fact, the carter center has a lot of programs in latin america. the united states was getting in great disfavor with an increasing number of latin american countries because our unique harsh treatment of cuba.
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as you know just a few weeks ago there was another annual resolution in the united nations which condemned american sanctions against cuba. and the only two countries that voted against it were the united states and israel. so i think the upcoming meeting of the organization of american states was a forgone conclusion that cuba would be there. all of these other nations had decided on that decision, made that decision, and now the united states has decided that they would cooperate with this i say forgone conclusion, and that we would cooperate as well. i think this will strengthen the organization of american states. it will lessen outside interference from russia or any other disruptive force and heal a lot of wounds, wounds that had been developed between the united states and other latin american countries who are supposedly our friends.
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>> president carter, it is good to have you on you our program today. thank you. >> good luck with you and your good work. >> thank you, john casen is in mime tonight, what are you hearing in correlate gables and miami about this news? >> of course there's a mixed opinion but i think the majority of people that left cuba and say 20 years after the revolution are very much opposed to this on two grounds. one, the administration was saying for many, many years that they would not exchange three convicted spies who murdered sentence from this -- citizens from this area over international waters for an aid contractor who didn't do anything other than trying to provide cell phones to the small jewish communities. they felt like they were lied to and that this is the kind of a gesture that's going to lead other totalitarian countries
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around the world to realize that all they have to do is get an american hostage hold onto them long enough, we won't pay money for them but we might change our relations. >> you don't think this is a fair deal? >> no i don't. i am glad allen is out. -- alan is out. alan gross asked to be out on humanitarian release, to visit his dying mother and they wouldn't let him. but they let the cuban prisoners visit their family. this is not apples to oranges. what did cuba do to merit a change in policy? we've never considered them normalization as an end in itself.
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we've been supporting human rights in cuba, rapid change, but they're wondering what is it the president thinks is going to result from the gestures he's thinking? does he think 88-year-old people in cuba, the leaders are going to change their policy at this stage in their -- when they're on the verge of their death beds? i -- and i agree with that. i think that we -- you know the president said that it's time to change our policy because it hasn't worked and my question has always been: well name me one country in the world whose policy has worked. we are the only country in the world who hasn't had free unlimited trade travel and tourism in cuba. 20 million americans have gone to cuba in 50 years and there hasn't been lessening of the political situation inside. so maybe americans having some kind of pixie dust can go over
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there and make a difference what happens in cuba i think is extremely naive. >> hasn't there been other countries who have normalized relations that have conditions almost as severe as cuba? >> of course. we have millions of people here who have fled from cuba, continue to flee cuba. they want to see a -- they want to see a continuation of a policy of not normalizing with the country that has shown no signs of liblessation in terms of -- liberalization in terms of economic or political situation. many support the position of the blabiological solution. when the castros are gone, they believe the profound impact on
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those who follow. >> when you hear president carter say this is going to benefit cubans and americans you say -- >> absolutely not. i mean cubans, what would benefit cuba is the cuban government opening up to their own people, allowing them to have unfettered access to the goods they need to run businesses. they're all controlled by the regime. there's no purchasing power in cuba. they don't have money -- they earn $20 a month average. there's no money to buy things from the united states. >> you don't think this will help the economy of cuba at all? >> i think it's going to help the economy of the military that controls 80% of the cuban people. >> won't help the people? >> no absolutely not. the time is very interesting. right before the republicans take control of congress at a time when oil prices are plummeting and the sugar daddies that have always kept cuba alive
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are going to be less able to provide the billions of dollars of free income to the government. so i think they're looking around, unlimited american tourists going there will drop millions of dollars into the enterprises that are totally controlled by the cuban military. >> what about the promise of an embassy and an ambassador there, is that significant? >> well, no. we as i think president carter said, we have the largest equivalent of an embassy for years since i was there, four, 500 people there, only 51 americans are allowed by the president to be present. the buildings there there's no more room in it. they will change the name on the door. they will call it a charge, i can't believe that others would allow a senate hearing to put an ambassador in would symbolize a
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normalization of relations whether they don't believe that cuba deserves to have normal relations. >> jim casen is a former chief of u.s. mission in havana and he joins us from miami. jim good to see you. >> thank you, bye-bye. >> the impact reaches far beyond washington or ha havana. jamie mcintyre has the story. >> the white house argued it can also pay diplomatic dividends beyond u.s. cuban relations, mainly by removing a source of friction and cooperating with other countries especially in the western hemisphere. republicans in congress argue cuban president raul castro got almost everything he wanted and gave up nearly nothing he valued in return. but the president's move was harolded as a historic break
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through. pope francis expressed his warm congratulations. u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon thanked the president as taking a very important step. >> as many of the membership of the united nations have repeat repeatedly emphasized through general assembly resolutions through many years it is time that cuba and the united states normalize their bilateral relations. >> reporter: world opinion is solidly hind the president's rapprochement with havana. the last nonbinding vote of ending the embargo was 182 to 2, only u.s. and israel voting
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opposite. other communist countries it accuses of human rights abuses such as china and vietnam about. >> nearly two decades ago we reestablished relations with vietnam. >> cuba will now be welcome to next year's summit of the americas in panama where in the past u.s. efforts to press for human rights reforms were often deflected by complaints about america's unpopular cuba policy. >> we pause for a greater debate. whether or not cuba has a policy for its own people and whether they will continue to get away with trampling the basic and human rights that the united states has long championed. >> and the united states bold initiative brought effusive reactions from alan gross who accused both countries of mutually belligerent policies.
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>> 75 and a half decades of history shows us such belligerence inhibits judgment. two wrongs never make a right. >> gross says he has the utmost fondness and respect for the cuban people and regards the olive branch that president obama extended as a game changer which he says he fully supports. the white house lopes that time will show gross is right. >> jamie mcintyre. jonathan betz. >> this is a 50 year plus divide that began as the president pointed out before many of us were even born. cheers from cuba to miami. after astounding words from a u.s. president. >> these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. >> but so many for so long hoped it would. the u.s. at first warily welcomed cast tro t troaz to pon
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1959. nixon even met with him but in 1961 u.s. shut its embassy and seferred relations. >> we were accustomed to having cuban leaders to do what we wanted. castro obviously was not going to do what we wanted. >> bay of pigs planned which president eisenhower but executed by president kennedy. allowing missile crisis in cuba which sparked the missile crisis in 1962. >> the purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against western hemisphere. >> relations just got icier. both sides dug in. cuba remained closed off from the u.s. andists people suffered. -- and its people suffered.
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in 1959 castro allowed hundreds to flea dmomg waves of boats to the coast. castro also sent prisoners and mental patients angering the u.s. then in the 1990s cuba shot down two small american planes that were trying to help refugees and that prompted more restrictions. >> translator: what castro did was take away all the rights of the cubans. he turned the whole country into a huge prison. >> fiif iif i dell castro turned control over to his brother raul. now the big part of the embargo are not changing like allowing tourists to visit. president obama has clearly decided enough time has passed
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john to heal new wounds. >> thank you, jonathan. 15 years for spying, government contraor alan gross landed on us soil this morning. john terret has more on his long awaited return. >> reporter: alan gross on u.s. soil for the first time in five years and not afraid to show it. >> i'm incredibly blessed toible fooly have the freedom to go on with a positive life. >> helping people in 50 countries to improve is jobs and agriculture. incredibly it was the worldwide web that kept him in cuba for five years. he was accused of smuggling and sentenced to 15 years behind bars for attempting to distribute internet equipment to the small jewish community
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without the proper permit. alan gross showed signs of his old personality once again. >> i guess by far it is the best han kahn c -- hanukkah that i we celebrating in a long time. >> his wife judy he got more and more depressed. >> very happy person, gregarious, have very, very warm. unfortunately that has changed quite a bit in the last four years. >> the decades old u.s. trade embargo against cuba, imposed after the 1959 refltion, plus the revelation of secret u.s.a.i.d. including a special twitter feed designed to destabilize the regime in havana. president obama hinted in a sit down with spanish tv.
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>> you know we have been in conversations about how we can get alan gross home for quite some time. we have been working through a whole variety of channels. >> so now alan gross is a free man once more, free to join his family for the holidays and by his own admission to get those teeth fixed. >> and i hope they will be strong and sharp enough to make a difference. >> john terret, al jazeera, new york. >> coming up what a half century of sanctions have done t cuba.
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>> a deal went against they're own government >> egypt mismanaged it's gas industry >> taking the country to the brink of economic ruin >> this is because of a corrupt deal to an assigned to basically support two dodgy businessmen an israeli one, and an egyptian one... >> al jazeera exposes those who made a fortune betraying an entire nation
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>> you don't feel you owe an explanation to the egyptian people? >> no...no.. >> al jazeera investigates egypt's lost power on al jazeera america >> an al jazeera special report, the u.s. and cuba a new era. >> an historic cuba, the island where an average wage per month
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is only $20. >> 60 years have left cuba looking a little bit like the island that time forgot. that's especially true when you step in the streets of havana and see a fleet of classic american cars. from cheferls chevrolets, fords, even few buick and de soto. they would have ended up on the scrap heemscrapheap, instead ths taxis. they have been forced to get the majority of their necessities on the black market. daily life in cuba that may be transformed by better relations with the united states. some hope it might be the beginning of a new revolution.
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one that lifts the country up rather than tearing it apart. >> and now our picture of the day, witness to history. young students in ha havana wath raul castro's speech to the nation, on restoring u.s. cuban relations. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. "america tonight" is next.
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>> on "america tonight." forcing change. cleveland cops under fire. years of stunning allegations, misconduct, excessive use of force. "america tonight's" christof putzel looks at excessive use of force. >> i'm sitting in my truck with my arms up like this. >> and what led the department of justice to step in. >> where does it come to the point where the doj releases a

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