Obama might give Guantanamo to Russians

Jaime Suchlicki
Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la Universidad de Miami
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- 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.

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; ending the embargo; embargo reparations to the tune of $2.5 trillion, and no U.S. “interference” in Cuban policies at home or abroad.

“If the Cuban government was 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.

But on another key demand, “giving away Guantanamo — this president is liable to do that,” he said of Obama.

Castro, in turn, would “probably” turn the territory over to Russia as a naval base.

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 harbors 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 facility, it would be a strategic disaster for the United States.”

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