In an interview with the Associated Press, Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of Southern Command, suggested that the US may jointly operate the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba – also know as GTMO – with Cuba.
Kelly said he believes the facility remains strategically valuable, a deepwater port in the Caribbean, and he would like to see it remain open even if the detention center closes. He suggested it could be run jointly with the Cubans, offering employment to the local population as it once did. But the general says he hasn’t discussed it with anyone in the Castro government. “It wouldn’t be appropriate,” he said. – AP
The article describes Cuba’s decision to participate in the annual Caribbean regional security conference co-sponsored by the US military’s Southern Command.
Last week, White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, said the administration will present a plan to Congress about steps to close the prison facility at GTMO, and seek its approval. He added that lack of Congressional action would lead to further evaluation of options.
“He feels an obligation to the next president. He will fix this so that they don’t have to be confronted with the same set of challenges,” McDonough said.
The prison at Guantanamo has earned notoriety over the years for housing one of the masterminds of the 9-11 attack, among other high value captures terrorists, and for controversial practices that some believe are inhumane and border on torture.
In some cases, the administration has transferred prison detainees to other countries. But there is a small number of detainees who the administration says it would like to detain in a U.S. facility for national security reasons.
Congress has explicitly banned the transfer of detainees to the US.
McDonough gave no indication whether the closing of the prison located at Guantanamo Bay is connected to a wider effort to return the naval base to Cuba. Guantanamo Bay’s return is among the top of Cuba’s demands it feels are necessary to resolve the remaining issues between the US and Cuba.