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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Obama gets what he needs out of deal with out full normalization. He does not need anything from Cuba. That he lightened up is enough for him to get favorable press in US.

  • Not so sure about that. To plug into international finance and lure more dollars to Island, Raul needs Cuba off terror sponsor list.

  • Yes and they leased it to US. $4,000 a year is light. They should ask for more.

  • Venezuela economy is on verge of collapse. Let’s see how practical the parties will get when Maduro’s oil assistance ends. Raul can posture all he wants, but Obama is his best ticket.

    Clinton’s husband is who signed helms-burton. Her GOP challengers are unlikely to be as accommodating as Obama.

    Obama gets cracked on as poor negotiator, but he is no push over when cornered. When pushed too far he picks up his ball and goes home. Raul should get what he can while door is open.

  • ….And Cuba belongs to the Cuban people, but Fidel has appropriated it for the last 55 years. I guess we can’t always get what we want.

  • Obama’s “problem” is NOT that he flexes “non-existent” muscles. How is that possible anyway? Obama’s problem is that he DOES NOT flex the muscles he has or for many, he flexes them too late and too little. The HT editor does not need my help but it would be nice if you would write something substantive. That would be “adult” of you.

  • Guantanamo belongs to Cuba

  • It is perfectly democratic for Moses to express his opinion and for you to express yours. The point is, Moses has something interesting to say, while you?

    Not so much.

  • What’s this Patterson? Self appointed Editor in Chief of the HT?
    Typical Obama, flexing his non existent muscles once again.
    Oh how very democratic and adult, I think not!

  • You have got to play the long game Griffin. SO FAR, nothing Obama has actually offered the Castros will make a real difference for the regime’s survival. Yet, Obama has indeed garnered a lot of positive press. The polls agree with his decisions.

  • What does anything you have written have to do with Guantanamo?

  • Here goes Tea Party Griffin again. How about this for a Republican Party ticket. One-issue Rubio for president and know-it-all Griffin for vp. I’m sure he’d be as good a negotiator as the Bushes.
    You have to hand it to Griffin he even knows what takes place in secret negotiations. Canada should be proud of producing such a genius.

  • Obama is driven by a vain desire for the Ultimate Liberal Legacy. Lifting the embargo on Cuba and establishing normal relations would be the icing on the cake. He was blinded by his progressive ideology and actually believes the BS spread by the Castro regime through their agents of influence in US media & academia.

    If Obama had wanted an honest opinion of his chances of succeeding, he could have asked the Democratic Senator, Robert Menendez. Instead, Menendez was cut out and lied to by Obama’s team. Obama does not want to hear anything contrary to his policy goals. Increasingly, Obama operates in a bubble, protected from dissent by his top political advisor, Valerie Jarrett.

    When Obama told the world he was going to ask Congress to lift the embargo, Raul knew right away he didn’t have to make any concessions. Instead, he piled on the demands.

    Obama is a hopelessly bad negotiator. (See Russian “reset”, Iranian nuclear program, Syrian “red line” & etc.) He tipped his hand and gave up his trump cards at the beginning. Now he’s backed himself into a corner, with liberal congressmen pushing him to lift the embargo now, conservatives vowing to block everything, and Raul demanding more concessions.

  • I am convinced that Raul does not want normal relations with the US. If normal relations leads to freedom and democracy (I don’t believe it does) then normal relations is the last thing the Castros want. He simply needs to say he wants normal relations and then set the bar so high to achieve it that it will never take place. Keep in mind, he is personally in power only three more years. After that, even as a Castro, he is not likely to have much influence. First and foremost will always be Fidel, to the extent he is coherent and of sound mind. Second Castro in line is debatable. Either Raul’s son or his son-in-law. Either way, the clock is ticking. Why wouldn’t Obama kick the can down to road to the next President to work out the details?

  • Reparations cost money and only Congress can authorize spending bills. So Obama cannot swing that deal. The most he can do on his own is open a shiny new embassy, relax banking rules and increase US tourism a bit. Raul had better realize that’s the best he can get during the few short years he & his brother have left. Time is not on the Castro’s side. Whoever comes next, and chances are it won’t be a Democrat, will not offer Raul a better deal than Obama has extended now. Take it or leave it.

    On the other hand, maybe Raul doesn’t really want a deal & he’s only dicking Obama around to see how much he can get for nothing. Hell, everybody else is, why not?

  • The US rejected only the demand that it shut down Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Since Congress is the only one that can lift the embargo, Obama may contemplate rectifying the “damages” done by the embargo because he knows that Helms-Burton infringed on the right of foreigners to do business with Cuba.

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