Cuba Expert: Obama Might Give Guantanamo to Russians
Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 04:38 PM
By Sean Piccoli
President Barack Obama’s eagerness to cut deals with Cuba at almost any
cost could yield a “strategic disaster” in which the Russian military
winds up controlling Guantanamo Bay, Cuba scholar Jaime Suchlicki told
“MidPoint” host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Thursday.
The historic re-start of diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba ordered
by Obama does not alter the fact that the communist nation’s rulers
neither want nor feel they need improved relations with the United
States, said Suchlicki, director of the Cuban Institute at the
University of Miami.
Just look at all the demands issued by Cuban leader Raul Castro, said
Suchlicki: a handover of Guantanamo Bay; embargo reparations to the tune
of $2.5 trillion, and no U.S. “interference” in Cuban policies at home
“If they were interested in helping the Cuban people they would’ve done
a deal with the United States many years ago,” said Suchlicki. “Neither
[previous Cuban leader] Fidel [Castro] nor Raul are really interested in
better relations with the United States.”
The Castros want concessions, not relations, he said, and Raul is
“raising the bar so high that he’s going to preclude any normalization.”
How much Obama will indulge him should be a concern, said Suchlicki,
alluding to a prisoner swap that freed Cuban spies — a deal that even
Hillary Clinton said she opposed as Obama’s Secretary of State.
On reparations, “Raul Castro is talking about $50 billion for the 50
years of the embargo,” said Suchlicki, adding, “that’s nonsense, and I
don’t think the U.S. will pay that.”
But on another key demand, “giving away Guantanamo — this president is
liable to do that,” he said of Obama.
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Castro, in turn, would “probably” turn the territory over to Russia as a
Pressed by Berliner on this scenario, with its overtones of the Cuban
missile crisis, Suchlicki said, “I don’t know what the president can get
away with,” meaning the political limits, if any, on Obama’s willingness
to placate Castro.
“My concern is that Guantanamo is one of the deepest bases in the
Caribbean — ideal for submarines,” he said. “And if Cuba were to turn
that base [over] to the Russians, or tell the Russians that they can use
that base, it would be a strategic disaster for the United States.”
From Cuba’s point of view, shunning the U.S. despite the overture from
Obama after a half century of mutual hostility is not a tactical
mistake, said Suchlicki.
“The point here is that [former Cuban leader] Fidel Castro is an ally of
Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China,” he said. “So for Cuba, the United
States is not important. What is important is the [connection] with
those countries that provide significant amounts of aid without any
condition and without requesting anything.”
Between the money Cuba brings in from tourism, remittances from Cubans
working abroad and a thriving export market for Cuba’s well-regarded
medical professionals, the Castro brothers are convinced they can still
continue on as they please, and maintain absolute political control, no
matter what the U.S. says, said Suchlicki.
Raul Castro is also betting that American tourists will bring in more
money, that petro-state allies Venezuela and Russia will continue to
supply crude even through the worldwide plunge in oil prices, and that
other countries including China will keep aid coming, he said.
Castro also wants military weaponry, and Russia will give it to him,
Nor is it time to remove Cuba from the U.S. State Department list of
state sponsors of terrorism, he said, even though Obama probably will.
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“I’m almost sure that they’re going to get Cuba out of the terrorist
list, despite the fact that Cuba harbors terrorists, supports Hezbollah
and Hamas,” he said. “It’s an ally of Iran, so I don’t think Cuba should
be removed, but the president and Secretary [of State John] Kerry have
indicated that they’re willing to give Raul Castro another concession.”
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Source: Obama Might Give Guantanamo to Russians, Cuba Expert Tells
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