Castro demands U.S. give back Guantanamo, lift embargo

Cuban President Raul Castro told President Obama Monday that the U.S. must return the Guantanamo Bay naval base and lift the embargo against Havana for the countries to fully normalize relations. “The blockade stands as the most important obstacle to our economic development,” Mr. Castro said as the two leaders emerged from a meeting on Mr. Obama’s historic trip to the island. He also said in order for the countries to move forward, “it will also be necessary” for the U.S. to return Guantanamo, which is based on the eastern end of Cuba. Gitmo is where the U.S. is operating a detention center for terrorism suspects, as well as the navy base. Mr. Castro referred to Gitmo as “illegally occupied” territory. Mr. Castro said in defiance of U.S. criticism that Cuba “defends” human rights for all. Mr. Obama, who didn’t mention Gitmo in his opening statement, agreed with Mr. Castro that “the road ahead will not be easy.” Mr. Obama, who opposes the embargo, said he will continue to call on Congress to lift the restrictions. He told Mr. Castro that the U.S. will keep speaking up about the need for democratic reforms and improvement of human rights in Cuba. “The relationship between our governments will not be transformed overnight,” Mr. Obama said. During a short news conference, Mr. Obama appeared irritated when Mr. Castro interrupted Mr. Obama’s answer to a reporter’s question to confer with an aide nearby. “Excuse me?” Mr. Obama said to Mr. Castro as they stood side by side at podiums. The Cuban leader explained to Mr. Obama that he was trying to discern whether the American reporter’s question about Cuba holding political prisoners was intended for him. Then Mr. Castro addressed the reporter for CNN. “Give me a list of these political prisoners,” he demanded. “Give me a name or names. What political prisoners?” He said if he received a list of names, those people would be released by the end of the day.

Or…maybe executed..

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