Cuban President Raul Castro told President Obama in an exchange of letters that the Cuban government — known for its routine mass arrests of political dissidents — is suddenly behind ideas like "human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."

Castro and Obama exchanged letters as part of the process of normalizing relations. In each, the two leaders stressed their commitment to the principles in the United Nations Charter and international law.

Castro's letter said Cuba is "likewise inspired" by these principles, which include the concepts of friendly relations "based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples," and "promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."

It's a line that many skeptics in Congress were doubting even before Castro wrote it down. Most Republicans and many Democrats have said it's a mistake for Obama to open relations with Cuba, precisely because the Cuban government has failed to undertake any new commitments in the areas of political rights and freedoms.

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