Raul Castro Says Guantanmo Territory Should Be Returned to Cuba

Raul Castro said that a normalization of Cuban-U.S. relations cannot be considered before closing the controversial detention center on its territory. 

(Telesur) – Cuban President Raul Castro demanded that the United States return the territory of Guantanamo to Cuba in his speech Wednesday at the third summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica.

“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,” said the Cuban president.

The U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is located in the southeastern point of the island nation. It is the oldest U.S. base that is located outside of North America, and the only one located in a country that does not maintain any diplomatic relationship with Washington.

Guantanamo Bay prison opened in 2002, as an aftermath of the Patriot Act, and former U.S. President George W. Bush’s response to the 9/11 terror attacks. The U.S. uses the center to imprison untried non-U.S citizens, potentially indefinitely, who are alleged terror suspects of, though many have found to not be.

According to Alfred de Zayas, a U.S. jurist from Cuba, the lease contracts of 1903 and 1934 are not valid anymore, as they were imposed “forcefully” and therefore violate international law, such as the right to self-determination.

Closing the Guantanamo base has been one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s promises since 2008, a promise has not been able to fulfill and will probably never be able to. At the moment,144 prisoners remain imprisoned at the detention center, without any due process, and under severe conditions like the use of torture, recently denounced again by prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi.