White House Dismisses Castro’s Demand for Guantanamo Bay, Compensation

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February 2, 2015—I’d like to make a few comments about what’s going on with our relationship with Cuba. I have said all along that I would like to see more open relationships with Cuba, more trade and travel. I think that would have been the best thing to do many decades ago.

But today it’s moving along because President Obama has moved in that direction. Of course conservative Republicans are nearly hysterical about it. Of course, many free market people understand that the more you trade with people and talk to people and intermingle, the less likely you are to fight with them. It’s time we get rid of the embargo and it’s time we dealt with Cuba in a different manner.

Although the door is open now to move in the direction of diplomatic relations, there are still some obstacles. Raul Castro is saying, “Well, we got to talk about Guantanamo Bay. We have to talk about reparations and a few other things like this.” He’s being firm and I think he has to grandstand a bit for the Cuban people. Of course, our president has to try to grandstand for those individuals who don’t want to see this and say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to be tough on these negotiations.”

But it’s interesting, the demands from our side is that, first they have to have a much more open Internet. That’s a good idea. But is that our business? If we want to deal with a country, if they’re going to learn from us, those people are going to demand a more open Internet. But to put that as a condition I think is foolish.

The other condition that the president wants Cuba to have more than one party. But what about the many, many Americans in the independent category saying Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same. They talk differently and they have their factions and their special interests but foreign policy never changes, monetary policy never changed, economic policy doesn’t change. To say that we don’t want to have one party—we have one party, only the two parties act together but the media is locked in with them too.

The other thing that Castro wants is Guantanamo Bay back. This would be hysteria if anybody ever took that position. Because Guantanamo is like America. But how did we get it? We got it on a war that we were very questionably involved in getting started. We took this perfect natural harbor. We’ve been using it for a hundred years, more than a hundred years. That was one of the issues under Batista that how we ended up getting that canal. Castro used this as one of the arguments to take over. When he did, they quit taking the rent to make the point, “You’re not renting from us, we never had a legal agreement. It was taken by force.”

That’s I think about the most we can hope from this is maybe a lesson to get Americans to look at this more objectively. Because when it comes to looking at Russia’s claim that they have a right to be in Crimea, “Oh wow, Russia has restored the Soviet empire. He’s advancing and pretty soon he’s going to be in London”, that kind of stuff. If you look at the history, you’ll probably find out that the Russians had more attachment to Crimea than we ever had, in a legal sense, attachment to the Guantanamo base.

But that hopefully won’t be the sticking point. Americans will not give up Guantanamo Bay. It will have to be one of those things that the Cubans will have to back down if they want to finally get to diplomatic relationships.

It’s a move in the right direction and I’m glad the President is doing this. I just hope that these so-called free traders who are claiming that we have to put sanctions on these countries will realize that they’re the isolationist and they’re the ones who want to fight free trade.

Free trade and I think a policy of isolationism, whether it’s with Cuba or Ukraine or Russia or Iran, never accomplishes anything. The more we understand the principles of liberty, the further we can move this along to defend and we’re all much more attuned to the principles that would make this a free and prosperous country.

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