During a joint press conference Monday, Cuban president Raul Castro said that if President Obama would give him a list of political prisoners, he would release them. In a sit-down with ABC News' David Muir on Monday (video below), when asked point blank if he would give Castro the list, Obama refused to respond directly, returning instead to his talking point about ending the embargo on the communist country.
Muir led into the question by noting that the infamously repressive Castro, after denying having any political prisoners, said if Obama gave him a list, he'd release them.
"But you heard President Castro late today. He said, 'Give me a list of prisoners and I'll release them,'" said Muir. "Will you give him a list?"
To the simple, direct question, Obama gave a circuitous non-answer in which he touted his plan to end the embargo and open up communications with the fifth most repressive government in the world.
"Well, the truth of the matter is we have given them lists in the past," said Obama, clearly uncomfortable with the question. "And they have ... responded intermittently to our ... to our engagement. And this, I think, is an example of why it was my belief that this would be a more successful mechanism for us to advance the values that we care about than an embargo and silence and no communications."
Following Castro's preposterous claim about having no political prisoners, a Cuban exile group was more than willing to provide him what President Obama would not, releasing a list of 47 people Monday.
"As requested today by Cuban President, Raul Castro, the Cuban American National Foundation provides a list of 47 verified political prisoners. It is our expectation that these political prisoners will be released, unconditionally, by this evening," said the highly influential exile lobbying group in a statement.
Obama's refusal to confront Castro in a meaningful way was on full display at the historic joint press conference Monday. After Castro denied any human rights violations by his tyrannical government, he ripped America for supposedly not caring enough for its own people.
"We defend human rights," said Castro (who's thugs just rounded up over 50 dissidents the day before). "In our view, civil, political, economic, and social rights are indivisible, interdependent and universal. Actually, we find it inconceivable that a government does not defend and ensure the right to health care, any patient, social security, food provision and development, equal pay and the rights of children."
Obama responded by — inconceivably yet predictably — agreeing with him.
"[President Castro I think has pointed out that] in his view making sure everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age, that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with that," said Obama, adding later, "And you know I actually welcome president Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels we’re falling short because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well."