Today President Obama announced long-awaited plans to close the US prison located in Guantanamo, Cuba but made no mention of the broader issue of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station (GTMO).
GTMO is different from the prison issue that has plagued Obama for seven years. Closing the prison at GTMO does not mean closing GTMO.
Separately, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said during a press briefing on Tuesday, “It’s not under consideration and we’ve said that many times.” His statement was in response to queries that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said the Obama administration was considering turning over the naval base to Cuba.
On the subject of GTMO’s future, Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly suggested a plan in an interview with the Associated Press last month. The commander of Southern Command suggested that the US may jointly operate the US Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba 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
GTMO, the oldest overseas US navy base, is at the top of Cuba’s list of matters to resolve as US-Cuba negotiators try to normalize diplomatic relations. The 45-square-mile outpost symbolized America’s resolve to oppose Soviet intrusion in our hemisphere – and more recently serves as a modern haven for mysterious methods employed against captured Islamic terrorists. The result of the current negotiations may be that GTMO’s 116 years of continuous service will end should Cuba’s demands prevail.