If you are looking for news accounts of Diana Nyad’s swim across the straits, or the still-grounded airplane that can’t fly or broadcast news to Cuba, but can still waste taxpayers’ money, scroll down.
But, if you’re ready for some fresh thinking about U.S. policy toward Cuba, look here.
In a soon-to-be published report, Michael Parmly, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, offers a detailed plan for addressing the problem of detainees imprisoned at Guantánamo. It deals with migration and refugee resettlement issues, and maintains the Navy’s presence in the Caribbean, while returning to Cuba rightful ownership of territory that’s been under U.S. control for over a century.
Parmly, a veteran U.S. diplomat, served in Cuba during a tumultuous period, when President Bush tried to terminate travel to the island by Cuban Americans, and ramped up regime-change efforts on the island.
The crucial theme sounded in the report centers on the sovereign rights of the Cuban people. Saying that the issue of Guantánamo “goes far beyond the question of the detainees,” Parmly writes: “If we want to be truly democratic about the question, the owners are the Cuban people. Yet they have never been asked their opinion.”
After he establishes the historic foundation for Cuba’s right to the territory, Parmly offers a thoughtful solution for adjudicating the cases of the detainees in ways that protect U.S. security and that, in his view, live up to U.S. obligations on human rights and international law.
Getting there requires diplomacy. Here, Parmly relies on his experience working on the negotiation of the Panama Canal Treaties and his insight into Cuba’s current leadership. He believes that President Raúl Castro would negotiate an agreement in Cuba’s interests that achieves these results.
The case he presents – founded on U.S. economic, foreign policy, and national security interests – complicates the lives of hardline exiles, who argue that Guantánamo should remain a U.S. possession until Cuba’s government is replaced. It will also be controversial for those who have long objected to U.S. conduct of what the previous administration called the global war on terror.
In other words, he suggests infusing fresh, creative thinking into a policy that has been frozen in the amber of its own ineffectiveness two decades after almost everyone celebrated the end of the Cold War.
Mr. Parmly’s paper, published by the Fletcher School of Diplomacy, will be available online later this month in a special edition of Fletcher Forum, marking the school’s 80th anniversary.
In 2009, CDA interviewed Dr. Peter G. Bourne, the Special Assistant on Health Issues during the Carter Administration, about the status of Guantánamo, and former president Fidel Castro’s vision for turning the naval base into an international medical center. The interview is available here.