Revamping U.S.-Cuban Politics: Playing the Guantánamo Card in a Game of Constructive Diplomacy

In recent months, media coverage of Guantánamo Bay has focused on the relocation and plans for the prosecution of detainees now housed there by the United States government.

But there is another issue that all but goes unaddressed – the

legitimacy of the U.S. naval base’s very presence along the

southeastern coastline of Cuba.

This issue has not yet been even cursorily explored. On January 22,

President Obama signed an executive order that called for the closure

of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp within one year. This would remove

the sole remaining function of the base that served as an internment camp

for suspected terrorists, and therefore also would provide the Obama

administration with good reason to reconsider returning the land itself

to Cuba, its rightful and legal owner.

Returning Guantánamo to effective

Cuban sovereignty as part of a normalization of relations with Cuba would have an explosive impact throughout Latin America.

It would be the single most transformative act of goodwill that the

U.S. could make, and would be sure to bring in return a range of

positive actions on Havana’s part. Furthermore, Washington’s release of

the Cuban Five (jailed Cubans presently serving lengthy prison terms after very controversial trials before Federal District Judge Joan Lenard – one of the most contentious judicial figures in the country) could win the release of all political prisoners presently being held in Cuba.

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This analysis was prepared by Kira Vinke

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