Raul Castro: U.S. must return Guantanamo for normal relations
By Javier Cordoba and Michael Weissentstein, The Associated Press
January 28, 2015
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Cuban President Raul Castro demanded on Wednesday that the United States return the U.S. base at Guantanamo 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 U.S. are working toward full diplomatic relations but "if these problems aren't resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn't make any sense."
Castro and President Obama announced on Dec. 17 that they would move toward 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....
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 U.S. to a set of longstanding demands that include an end to U.S. support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba's removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On Wednesday, Castro emphasized an even broader list of Cuban demands, saying that while diplomatic ties may be re-established, normal relations with the U.S. depend on a series of concessions that appear highly unlikely in the near future.
"The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalizing 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 Guanatanamo naval base," Castro said....[emphasis mine]
Not so fast there, Raoul.
When I first heard of this latest intended foreign policy intention by Obama, I was furious for oh so many reasons. The first that sprang to mind was this:
January 22, 2009 Obama Signs Order to Close Guantanamo in a year That link is the video where he says "promptly...".... Not working out so well is it?
He campaigned on that...From 60 Minutes in mid November 2008:
What made me furious when I heard about Cuba's most recent demands was that part of not only does GITMO house the worst of the worst enemies of America - terrorists - but is also the site of the US Naval Base, which continues to be an integral part of US defense strategy and interests.
I suspect that for most of us, when we hear the words GITMO we automatically think of Camp Delta where KSM and his co-terrorists are housed. These days there are just over 100 inmates, as we have all watched Obama pretty much thrown open the doors and released a large majority of them back to the fighting field. Even as Obama attempts - and has failed (at least twice) in the past to get Congress to approve moving all the remaining inmates to federal US prisons - Military Commissions are still ongoing at GITMO, as the 9/11 families wait for justice. They are scheduled to reconvene the KSM Hearings this coming week, but given the defense motions and other shenanigans that are still ongoing, it remains to be seen if they WILL get underway on Monday.
Guantamo Bay is a fully functional US Naval Base, with strategic importance to the US - quite apart from Camp Delta - and this is one of the reasons we should all be paying attention as Obama enlists Cuba to help him fulfil his 2008 campaign promise to close it.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is on the front lines for regional security in the Caribbean area. The base supports the ability of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, along with allied nation ships to operate in the Caribbean area by providing contingency and quality logistical support with superior services and facilities. The base also supports the Department of Homeland Security in U.S. migrant operations to help care for displaced migrants from the surrounding area, effectively helping control the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Over the years a varying number of Cuban refugees have found refuge there. In the 1990s several thousand refugees were held at the base for years.
Most of the refugees were housed in a tent city on the re-purposed airstrip that would later be used to house the complex used for the Guantanamo military commissions The refugees who represented discipline or security problems were held on the site that would later become Camp XRay, the initial site of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Small numbers of refugees occasionally slip into the camp to this day. According to a February 6, 2012 report from Agence France Presse, ten political dissidents slipped into the base in November 2011.
Fact is, these demands by the Castro brothers to 'return' Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, are nothing new, but the details of how we got to today are an important part of American Military (and political) history.
The story of Guantanamo goes back more than a century, to the time of the Spanish-American War. And, during that time, it’s been, as it is now, a source of controversy. Until 1898, Cuba had belonged to Spain; as the Spanish empire diminished, Cubans fought for their independence. The U.S. joined in to help its neighbor and, though the Spanish-American War ended up focused mainly on the Spanish presence in the Philippines, Cuba was the site of the sinking of the the event that precipitated American military involvement.. When the war ended, Spain gave the U.S. control of Cuba — among other territories, like Puerto Rico — and, about three years later, Cuba became an independent nation and The Platt Amendment was signed.
However, that independence was not without a catch: as part of the Platt Amendment, the document that governed the end of the occupation, the new Cuban government was required to lease or sell certain territory to the United States.
The U.S. rights in Guantanamo are clear and indisputable. By a treaty signed in 1903 and reaffirmed in 1934, the U.S. recognized Cuba’s “ultimate sovereignty” over the 45-sq.-mi. enclave in Oriente province near the island’s southeast end. In return, Cuba yielded the U.S. “complete jurisdiction and control” through a perpetual lease that can be voided only by mutual agreement. [emphasis mine]
Read lots more here. There is great detail at that link about what Cuba gets out of the deal, (including the only McDonalds in a Communist country!) but be that as it may, every month since the turn of the twentieth century, the US has been sending a 'rent check' to Cuba. Every month Cuba has refused to cash those checks (except for once in 1959, when Fidel cashed one, with the excuse that he was in a time of 'confusion.') That link says that the uncashed checks are stuffed into a desk drawer in Castro's office.
And so it goes, as once again the Castros are 'demanding' the return of this important US Naval Base to Cuba.
As stated earlier, these efforts are not new, but as War On Terror News recently said on social media, there is a very good reason why, under this President, Cuba thinks it may have its best chance yet of achieving their long-held goal of returning GITMO to the Cubans.
Sensing weakness and desperation, Cuba makes extraordinary demands for "normal" relations.
Cuba sees what the rest of us - and the world - has seen very clearly. Obama IS a very weak and dangerous president. Obama has also regularly demonstrated that his ideology, HIS agenda, come first before America's interests, and the world's ne'er-do-wells hves noticed.
Giving GITMO to Cuba should be a non-issue for any number of reasons, because NOTHING good can come of it, and that's not even getting into the gazillion dollars DoD has pumped into that Naval Base, and continues to do so.One of the most recent expenditures I found was putting in solar panels, in keeping with the DoD emphasis on greening the planet rather than fighting America's enemies. For a reminder of how much has gone into GITMO since the setting of the detention center there, go look again at Steven Crowder's video of the terrible conditions there.
To hear Obama, and the usual ignorant mob describing GITMO, it is merely a hotbed of torture and human rights abuses on those poor innocent terrorists. Of course, most recently Diane Feinstein added to the impetus to close GITMO (and embolden our enemies) as she released the infamous 'CIA Torture Memo; you know, the report that was Democrat generated and which didn't include interviews with any of the actual participants, and which no Republican contributed to. (I'll have more on that report at a later date) Can we say 'all politics all the time'? Yes, the UN famously opined a few years back that GITMO should be closed because of the alleged torture of inmates going on there, but I prefer to go with what Rob O'Neill had to say about torture. You remember Rob O'Neill? The American Soldier responsible for ridding the world of Osama bin Laden. Steven Crowder has a short video on this, comparing and contrasting what is real torture as practised by folks like Iranians, with what goes on at GITMO.
Of course, Obama always says things like "we must regain the moral ground. GITMO is not what America is....blah blah blah..." Fact is, since Obama took office, he has time and again shown that for him, ANY policy decision, foreign or domestic is based on all only politics, all the time, regardless of any other consideration beneficial to the safety and security of the US.
Prior to the last mid-term elections in the US, Obama and his party controlled the political landscape and - in theory - had the clout to close GITMO. Despite his determination to pervert not only past history, but also change the future of America's security in doing so, he has been unable to implement this campaign promise.
He may well still be hell-bent on closing GITMO, and when this Cuba demand first hit the newswires, I only saw the possibility that Obama would succeed in his goal. He may well arrogantly declare that he has his 'pen and a phone' but now he is getting political push-back.
From FOX News:
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., among those lawmakers pushing for the camp to remain open, calls it a "good deal."
“Guantanamo Bay serves as a central and secure location for detaining and trying dangerous terrorists who are responsible for the death of Americans, and there is no cost that can be placed on keeping these terrorists off of American soil where they could influence our criminals or be targeted for a well-organized prison break,”
Inhofe told FoxNews.com in a written statement.
“When it comes to the safety and security of Americans that the isolated prison provides, Guantanamo is invaluable.” ...
"The heart-breaking thing with respect to Guantanamo is not that there's anything wrong with it, it's one of the finest prison systems in the world," he said.
"What's awkward is the fact that, for whatever reason, the administration was incapable of persuading people that that was a first-class operation, that they were not torturing people, that they were not hurting people.
Mr Rumsfeld described it as "a fine operation," and said US military personnel working there have "taken a lot of the heat unfairly" and "deserve a lot of credit" for their work. Mr Rumsfeld was also critical of president Barack Obama's attempt to close the site....
There is more from the former SECDEF here.
I think the response that speaks most closely to my own thoughts on returning GITMO to the Cubans has to be Senator Tom Cotton:
During the course of writing this, I looked for any Democrats speaking on the record in opposition to Obama's latest attempts at emperor fiat. No surprise, I couldn't find a one.
However, I did find this via Reuters:
Lawmakers raised the Guantanamo issue repeatedly in a hearing that occasionally turned contentious. Republicans and some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats questioned whether his shift to end the U.S. isolation of Cuba would do enough to improve human rights on the Communist-ruled island.
"The administration may have given a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life to continue its repression at home and militant support for Marxist regimes abroad," said Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"I might have been more favorably impressed by the policy if it hadn't been such a complete shock and if Congress had been involved," said Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California, one of several lawmakers - including some who support the new policy - who criticized the administration for not consulting Congress.... [emphasis mine]
Read the rest here.
"...not consulting Congress..." There's a shocker. NOT! For Obama, that IS business as usual., as we have seen throughout his administration. The list of his events where he has ignored his obligations to Congress, and the American people, continues to grow.
I have never made claims to be a US History scholar, Constitutional expert, nor a Military strategist but even with the meagre reading I have done for the sake of this column, I KNOW that Barack Obama has no jurisdiction to cavalierly sign away America's defense and security. I also know that his wanton way of releasing GITMO detainees - only notifying Congress as it is happening, in direct contravention of the rule that states Congress must be given 30 days notice - has added to the ongoing threats America faces from the ever-expanding global scourge of Islamist terrorists.
I also know of the ongoing ever-increasing demoralisation of our 9/11 families who paid the enormous price of the most heinous breach in America's security, who continue to wonder if they will ever see justice while the MIC remains in office. I was discussing this latest outrage recently with one of my friends - a 9/11 mom who lost their only child at the Twin Towers on that terrible day. She reminded me that Obama cannot sign an agreement of this magnitude with Cuba without Congressional approval. I hated myself having to remind her of the many instances where he has done just that.
Fact is, it would be easy to surmise that Obama really does not have the best interests of America and the American people at heart.
This use of Cuba to further his personal campaign policies, is a betrayal of not only our precious 9/11 Fallen and Survivors. It is also a total betrayal of all our brave Warriors who have bled and died in Service to the freedom and security of America.
Mr Obama needs to be reminded who HE swore to Serve when he assumed the highest office in the land: not Cuba, not Islamist terrorists, but the American people. Period.
Just say NO, President Obama.
I know I sound like a broken record, but please: PAY ATTENTION!
Photo Credit: Frank Glick at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota.