After American Alan Gross was released by Cuba today following five years in prison, the Obama administration moved to normalize diplomatic relations with the country.

President Obama announced the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana and called on Congress to lift the long-standing embargo, the most significant policy shifts toward the communist country in decades.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), whose parents fled Cuba in the 1950s, joined Bill Hemmer on "America's Newsroom" and said the move to re-establish diplomatic ties will do nothing to further democracy and freedom in Cuba.

"It's absurd and it's part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants that this administration has established," Rubio said.

He added this is par for the course for an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions in exchange for nothing.

Rubio said that Obama's foreign policy is at best naive and perhaps even counterproductive to the future of democracy in the region.

"At a minimum, I would say this: Barack Obama is the worst negotiator we've had as president since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the modern history of this country."

FoxNews.com reported:

Senior administration officials said Obama spoke with Cuban leader Raul Castro for more than 45 minutes on Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961. Both Obama and Castro were to separately address their nations around noon Wednesday.

Obama also plans to take several executive actions, including expanding travel and economic ties to the island. According to a White House document, the U.S. government would raise remittance levels and authorize certain travel to Cuba, as well as start of review of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Obama also has directed the State Department to launch talks with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were cut in 1961.

Officials said the Cuban government was releasing 53 political prisoners.

The announcement comes after Gross was freed, as part of an agreement that included the release of three Cubans jailed in the U.S. A senior Obama administration official told Fox News that Gross left Cuba on a U.S. government plane Wednesday morning. "Mr. Gross was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States," the official said.

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