US Will Not Return Guantanamo to Cuba

Map of Cuba with the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.

HAVANA TIMES — The US government has no plans of returning the territory where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located back to Cuba, even if President Barack Obama manages to shut down the detention center there, as he promised, DPA reported.

“The President does believe that the prison at Guantánamo Bay should be closed down. But the naval base is not something that we wish to be closed,” White House spokesman Josh Ernest said today during a press conference, declaring that Washington is not willing to return the territory where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located in Cuba.

The White House spokesperson said no bilateral talks on this issue are underway following the agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations (broken in 1961) reached by Washington and Havana in December.

However, after 18 months of secret conversations which resulted in the surprising announcement that a new era of US-Cuba relations had begun, the issue could be brought to the negotiations table at a later date.

Earnest defended the closure of the Guantanamo prison because “the terrorism detainee facility serves as a recruiting tool for al Qaida and other extremist groups.”

The US Guantanamo prison camp where the captives have no rights whatsoever.

On Wednesday, during the 3rd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Cuban President Raul Castro criticized US acts of “intervention” in his country within the context of the diplomatic thaw between the two countries.

Raul Castro demanded the lifting of the embargo, just compensation for human and economic damages caused by the embargo, the ceasing of broadcasts by Radio and TV Marti and the return of a territory which Havana considers is illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base.

“There is a pretty clear difference between reestablishing diplomatic relations and carrying out the longer process of normalizing relations,” said Ernest, pointing out existing disagreements between the two countries, despite the diplomatic thaw.

On several occasions, Obama has promised that he will shut down the Guantanamo prison, set up by George Bush to detain suspects captured in Afghanistan and those believed to belong to Al Qaeda, before leaving the White House in January 2017.

Since 2002, the Guantanamo Base has taken in a total of 780 prisoners accused of terrorism, most of them detained in Afghanistan during the US invasion of that country which followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Many of them have never been tried.

According to a New York Times investigation and NPR, 649 have been transported to 55 different countries and 122 remain imprisoned in Guantanamo. Among the countries that have taken in Guantanamo prisoners are Uruguay (6), Spain (5) and El Salvador (2).

The Guantanamo Naval Base is located on the southeastern end of the island. Cuba considers it an occupied territory, but the United States refuses to return it, arguing that the two countries signed a perpetual lease of the said territory under the US-Cuba Treaty of 1903.

Washington sends a check for US $4,085 dollars to Havana every year as a symbolic payment for the lease, which the Cuban government refuses to cash.

21 thoughts on “US Will Not Return Guantanamo to Cuba

  • February 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

    If we gave up the Panama Canal with great commercial and strategic value why not Guantanamo? It is stupid and solely to be a thorn on the side not only of the Cuban government but its people. Are we a colonial power still?

  • February 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

    There’s the rub. What Cuba needs and what the Castros must do to stay in control are often at cross-purpose. The Castros have always chosen to preserve the dictatorship over what is best for Cuba. If getting OFF the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism means making a concession to the US that will reduce Castro power, Raul will choose to remain on the list.

  • February 2, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Your sports analogy is so far-fetched that I can’t imagine something like that ever happening in a real life situation like the Super Bowl. Never. But, sadly, I take your point.

  • February 2, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Do you have anything of value to add to this conversation? Again & again, your posts are nothing but snark. The editor of HT has called for civility in the comments, so I don’t know why he allows your comments to stand.

  • February 2, 2015 at 7:24 am

    If Obama’s gambit results in helping Cuba transition to a democratic system, than I will be delighted. But call me a skeptic, based on his record so far, Obama has a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

    Allow me to use a sports metaphor:

    With the octogenarian Castros staring the grim reaper in the face, with Cuba’s cheap oil supply in Venezuela collapsing, with a rising pro-democracy movement in Cuba, the Castro regime was pushed back to their own one yard line. All the US had to do was stick with their strategy and run the ball forward a few more feet. Instead, the quarterback, hoping for some vain moment of glory, made a bone-headed call to throw the ball, which was inevitably intercepted. The game was lost.

    That’s what I see Obama doing. You note that the press & public opinion polls applaud Obama. But as you know well, most of the press and the general public are clueless about the Castro regime and the brutal repression of the Cuban people. Obama will make a deal with the Castros because he wants a deal. He doesn’t much care what’s in the deal, so long as he gets the deal which will cement his legacy as the Most Amazing Liberal President Ever.

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