U.S. Refuses to Return Guantanamo to Cuba*

U.S. Refuses to Return Guantanamo to Cuba*

The White House claims Washington and Havana have a “wide variety of disagreements” over normalizing relations.

From left, Deputy Treasury Secretary John E. Smith, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta S. Jacobson and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Matthew S. Borman, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Cuba. The Obama administration’s lead negotiator with Cuba is vowing to maintain U.S. support for democracy and human rights activists there as she pushes to restore embassies between the countries after a half-century interruption. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS — AP

The United States will not provide any compensation for its decades-old blockade of Cuba or relinquish control of Guantanamo Bay, the White House announced on Thursday.

President Raul Castro has described the dismantling of the blockade and closure of a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay as prerequisites for a full normalization of ties between Washington and Havana.

“The restoration of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible if a blockade still exists, if the territory of Guantanamo, illegally occupied by the U.S. Navy, isn’t returned, if the radio and TV broadcasts, violating international norms, do not cease, and if our people are not fairly compensated for the human and economic damage they have endured,” Raul Castro said at the third summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica on Wednesday.

However, White House press secretary Josh Earnest has now responded by claiming the Cuban president’s remarks are an example of the “wide variety of disagreements between the United States and Cuba.”

“There is a pretty clear difference between re-establishing diplomatic relations and carrying out the longer process of normalizing relations,” he told a press conference in Washington.

Yet he emphasized the administration of President Barack Obama remains committed to diverging from decades of failed U.S. policy towards the island nation.

“The strategy that has been employed for the last five decades of trying to isolate Cuba is one that has not resulted in any (of the) kinds of changes we’d like to see,” he said.

He also said Obama continues to “believe that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed down.”

“But the naval base is not something that we wish to be closed,” he told reporters.

U.S. control of the isolated bay dates back to the 1903 Cuban-American Treaty – inked five years after the United States intervened to overthrow Spanish rule of Cuba. The Cuban government has long maintained the United States strong armed the then newly independent Cuba into handing over the bay with the threat of force, meaning the century old treaty is illegal. International norms generally prohibit the threat of force.

Since coming to office in 2009, Obama has repeatedly vowed to close the controversial detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, but has made little progress.

Currently, the camp holds over 100 detainees, many of whom have suffered torture and been denied due process, according to human rights groups.


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