Any move by the United States to normalize relations with Cuba without a regime change will strengthen the hand of that country's leadership, experts told CNBC.
In a speech to the nation, President Barack Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to overhaul its relations with Havana. The address followed the release of American USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who was held in Cuba for five years, in exchange for three Cubans imprisoned in the United States. Cuba also released a U.S. intelligence agent.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" the president's proposal to renew relations will restore prestige to what he called a "deadbeat dictatorship," referring to the government of President Raul Castro.
"Doing normal business with that regime makes no sense based on one hostage release," said Noriega, who served as assistant secretary under President George W. Bush. "Unilateral concessions resuscitates a dictatorship that's drawing its last breath."
Normal economic relations should only used as leverage with a transitional government to ensure that any changes in Cuba are broad, profound and irreversible, he added.
Addressing opponents to the plan, Obama said he respected their passion and shared their commitment to liberty and democracy, but said the question is how America holds up its commitment.
"I don't believe we can do the same thing for five decades and expect a different result," he said.