source: Raúl Castro demands that US return Guantánamo base to Cuba | World news | The GuardianCuba’s President Raúl Castro has demanded that the United States return the US base at Guantánamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.
Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the US are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense”.
Castro and the US president, Barack Obama, announced on 17 December that they would move towards renewing full diplomatic relations by reopening embassies in each other’s countries. The two governments held negotiations in Havana last week to discuss both the reopening of embassies and the broader agenda of re-establishing normal relations.
Obama has loosened the trade embargo with a range of measures designed to increase economic ties with Cuba and increase the number of Cubans who don’t depend on the communist state for their livelihoods.
The Obama administration says removing barriers to US travel, remittances and exports to Cuba is a tactical change that supports the United States’ unaltered goal of reforming Cuba’s single-party political system and centrally planned economy.
Cuba has said it welcomes the measures but has no intention of changing its system. Without establishing specific conditions, Castro’s government has increasingly linked the negotiations with the US to a set of longstanding demands that include an end to US support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba’s removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On Wednesday, Castro emphasised an even broader list of Cuban demands, saying that while diplomatic ties may be re-established, normal relations with the US depend on a series of concessions that appear highly unlikely in the near future.
“The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don’t give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo naval base,” Castro said.
He demanded that the US end the transmission of anti-Castro radio and television broadcasts and deliver “just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they’re suffered”.
The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Castro’s remarks.
As someone who favors keeping Guantánamo prison open I think it should be fairly obvious my feelings about this. Cuba does not have the best track record with the United States and has often been seen as our belligerent next door neighbor. While I'm not sure we actually need the base there, I do think we should keep it there until they have someone more to give us than cigars and rum.