Skepticsm, if not an outright sense of betrayal, that has met President Barack Obama's deal with Raul Castro is twofold:
-- In return for diplomatic recognition of the Castro regime and a promise to work for repeal of the so-called American "embargo," the dictatorship promised nothing. Obama reversed a bedrock American foreign policy without even a vague assurance that Castro would relax the iron grip that he and his brother have held on the Cuban people for almost 56 years. The regime is free to continue with its oppression and repression of the Cuban people, but now with the knowledge that no matter how it badly it behaves, Washington doesn't care enouigh to care.
-- A more immediate cause of suspicion is Obama's assurance that Castro did, in fact, agree to give something as part of the deal: The release of 53 political prisoners in Cuban jails. A welcome outcome, indeed, but the lack of transparency for this particular of the deal is alarming. No one in the United States nor among Cuban dissidents seems to know whose names are on the list, an omission that absolves both Castro and Obama of any accountability.
A Reuters report Sunday highlighted the mystery, and how both Washington and Havana are trying to hide behind it:
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's most prominent dissidents say they have been kept in the dark by U.S. officials over a list of 53 political prisoners who will be released from jail as part of a deal to end decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba.
For years, dissident leaders have told the United States which opponents of Cuba's communist government were being jailed or harassed, but they say they were not consulted when the list of prisoners to be freed was drawn up or even told who is on it.
The lack of information has stoked concern and frustration among the dissidents, who worry that the secret list is flawed and that genuine political prisoners who should be on it will be left to languish.
"We're concerned because we don't agree with the silence, because we have a right to know who they are. Who are they?" said Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, which marches in Havana on Sundays to demand the release of prisoners.
"There are not just 53 political prisoners, there are more, and we are concerned that the U.S. list might have common criminals on it," she told Reuters in Havana.
U.S. officials have so far been tight-lipped about how the list of 53 was assembled and who was consulted inside Cuba. It also is not clear if some prisoners were kept off the list because the Cuban government refused to release them.
A U.S. official said on Saturday that Washington had asked Cuba to release a specific group of people jailed on charges related to their political activities, but declined to answer further questions.
Neither the U.S. nor the Cuban governments have said when the prisoners would be released. Cuba declined to comment on why more details have not been publicly released.
No one should expect any more from the Castro regime. In 56 years, it has never allowed anybody, much less the Cuban people, for how it rules the nation. It denies even holding political prisoners so it's unlikely to ever release a list of those to be freed.
But the weaselness displayed by the United States on this matter is just more reason to doubt the whole affair.