President Barack Obama’s deal to normalize relations with Castro’s Cuban dictatorship smells like last week’s leftover fish. Cuban President Raul Castro demanded Wednesday that the United States lift its trade embargo with the island nation and give the financially beleaguered country reparations. Oh, and he wants U.S. Naval Base-Guantanamo Bay back.
“If these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense,” Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, according to the Associated Press.
These are but the latest in a string of demands made by Castro since he and Obama announced their Dec. 17 agreement. Previous demands included, “an end to U.S. support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism,” the AP reported.
“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 Guantánamo naval base,” Castro said.
Those who have continuously opposed the U.S.-Cuban agreement say Castro’s statements are proof that the deal was poorly conceived from the get-go.
“The Castro brothers, once again, have made their intent toward the United States clear: They plan to use the Iranian playbook in an attempt to extort concessions from the Obama administration in exchange for nothing,” Cuban-American Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said Wednesday evening, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Miami Congresswoman has long-held that it’s Cuba, not the United States, that owes reparations — for the private property the Cuban government seized after Fidel Castro came into power. She also demands that the country’s human rights violations be addressed.
Ros-Lehtinen said that the United States cannot afford to surrender control of the “strategic asset” that Guantanamo Bay represents.
“Naval Station Guantanamo Bay is strategically important for U.S. national security, and as our own military personnel have said, also plays a key role as a logistical hub in support of a variety of U.S. priority efforts in the region,” she said.
The Obama administration, for its part, claims its drawing the line at handing Gitmo over to the Cubans.
“There is no impact to Guantánamo from the changes announced today,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Wednesday evening, according to the Miami Herald.
But she appeared to leave the door to that possibility open a crack.
“As far as the base goes we are still maintaining current operations and policies,” Meehan said, adding there have been “no immediate changes.”
The question is whether Obama, who is demonstrably the world’s worst negotiator, will give it back.
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