At The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead pushes back against suggestions by the Cubans that it is the Obama administration demonstrating recalcitrance by not trading the Cuban Five for Alan Gross:
Although the Cubans are happy to paint this as a simple judicial matter, it’s more likely that there’s something going on here behind the scenes. There have been signs that Obama is prepared for a thaw American relations with Cuba; the Castros have continued to use cases like these [to] hold the administration at arm’s length. Resolving the Gross case would give Obama administration the political space for a significant opening to Cuba. The Castros doen’t want this to happen, and so they are stonewalling.
Why arm’s length? Mead explains in an earlier post:
The Castro government fears an end to the U.S. travel and investment embargo. The last thing it wants is to see the island overrun by partying gringos while wealthy Cuban Americans buy up choice properties and make investments that give them a major stake in the island’s future.