Cuba's Raul Castro: If US Really Wants Normal Relations, It Must Give Back Guantanamo Base

Raul Castro speaking in 2013. (Photo: Mauricio Munoz E/ Presidencia de la Republica via flickr)

Cuba's Raul Castro: If US Really Wants Normal Relations, It Must Give Back Guantanamo Base

Castro also calls for end to embargo, removal from state sponsors of terrorism list, compensation for harm caused

In order to achieve fully normalized relations, the United States must return the base at Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, the island nation's President Raul Castro said Wednesday.

The remarks follow a historic restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries that began in December.

Speaking at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica, Castro also called for an end to the embargo and for Cuba to be taken off the list of state sponsors of terror.

"The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade remains in effect; the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is not returned; the radio and television broadcasts breaching international rules and regulations do not cease; and adequate compensation is not paid to our people for the human and economic damages sustained," Castro said.

"If these issues are not resolved, a diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would not make sense," he said.

"It was possible to advance in the recent negotiations because we treated each other with respect, and as equals," he said. "Future progress demands that this remains so."

He added that "the path to the removal of the blockade will be long and difficult and will require the support, mobilization and resolute action of every person of goodwill in the United States and the world."

Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman wrote earlier this month that the 13th anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at Guantanamo "serves as a reminder that we need to permanently close the prison and return the land to its rightful owners, the Cuban people. It is time to put an end to this dark chapter of United States history."

Closing "the most notorious prison on the planet" would help "to right more than a century of wrongs that the U.S. government has perpetrated" in Cuba, Goodman wrote.

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