Thursday, January 29, 2015

Raul Castro demands U.S. pay back Cubans for 'damages,' return Guantanamo

Raul Castro demands U.S. pay back Cubans for 'damages,' return Guantanamo
Published January 28, 2015 Fox News Latino

Cuban President Raul Castro demanded on Wednesday that the United States
return the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the half-century trade
embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two
nations re-establish normal relations.

Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean
States that Cuba and the U.S. are working toward full diplomatic
relations but "if these problems aren't resolved, this diplomatic
rapprochement wouldn't make any sense."

Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 17 that they
would move toward renewing full diplomatic relations by reopening
embassies in each other's countries. The two governments held
negotiations in Havana last week to discuss both the reopening of
embassies and the broader agenda of re-establishing normal relations.

Obama has loosened the trade embargo with a range of measures designed
to increase economic ties with Cuba and increase the number of Cubans
who don't depend on the communist state for their livelihoods.

The Obama administration says removing barriers to U.S. travel,
remittances and exports to Cuba is a tactical change that supports the
United States' unaltered goal of reforming Cuba's single-party political
system and centrally planned economy.

Many Cuban exiles and U.S. lawmakers have stressed that the Castro
regime owes $6 billion for the assets seized from thousands of U.S.
citizens and businesses after the Cuban revolution in 1959, Fox News
recently reported. With the United States pressing forward on
normalizing relations with the communist country, some say the talks
must resolve these claims.

"The administration has not provided details about how it will hold the
Castro regime to account for the more than $6 billion in outstanding
claims by American citizens and businesses for properties confiscated by
the Castros," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-Fla., top Democrat on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State
John Kerry ahead of historic talks in Havana this month.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla.) who is chair of the Middle East
and North Africa Subcommittee, assailed the Castro regime's Guantanamo

"According to the legally binding agreement between the U.S. and Cuba
regarding Guantanamo: 'so long as the United States of America shall not
abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments
shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station
shall continue to have the territorial area that it now has,'" the
Cuban-American lawmaker said in a statement to the press.

"Naval Station Guantanamo Bay is strategically important for U.S.
national security...The President must not allow this strategic asset to
be extorted from the U.S. by the Castro brothers at any cost."

Ros-Lehtinen said the Castro regime needs to acknowledge the
compensation it owes to Cubans and Americans whose properties and assets
it confiscated.

"Noticeably absent from the regime's demands, not surprisingly, is any
offer to compensate the Cubans and Americans who had their land and
property seized by the Castro regime, any change in its oppressive
nature and abysmal human rights practices, and to halt its support for

Cuba has said it welcomes the measures but has no intention of changing
its system. Without establishing specific conditions, Castro's
government has increasingly linked the negotiations with the U.S. to a
set of longstanding demands that include an end to U.S. support for
Cuban dissidents and Cuba's removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors
of terrorism.

On Wednesday, Castro emphasized an even broader list of Cuban demands,
saying that while diplomatic ties may be re-established, normal
relations with the U.S. depend on a series of concessions that appear
highly unlikely in the near future.

"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 Guanatanamo naval base," Castro said.

He demanded that the U.S. end the transmission of anti-Castro radio and
television broadcasts and deliver "just compensation to our people for
the human and economic damage that they're suffered."

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on Castro's remarks.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: Raul Castro demands U.S. pay back Cubans for 'damages,' return
Guantanamo | Fox News Latino -

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