Cuba welcomes decision to close terror prison

Describing the Guantanamo Bay prison as "an affront to humanity", Cuba's foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision to close the facility - and hoped the US would return the land to Cuba.


AFP - Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque on Friday welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and said he hoped the US base there would be dismantled.

"I see the decision of President Obama to close the torture and detention center as a positive step, Perez Roque told journalists during a visit to Guatemala.

"I think that the existence of a center where they've carried out physical and psychological torture, and humiliated prisoners, is an affront to humanity," Perez Roque added.

The Cuban foreign minister said he hoped the United States would dismantle the naval base where the "war on terror" prison camp is located -- it has been in Guantanamo, on the island's southeast coast, for more than a century -- and return the land to Cuba.

"The Guantanamo naval base remains against the will and desire of the people and the government of Cuba," Perez Roque said.

The 45-square-mile (115-square-kilometer) facility is the oldest overseas US Navy base; the Cuban government says the Guantanamo lease, signed in 1903, is invalid, while Washington claims it is valid.

On Thursday, Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp within a year and banned torture in a dramatic repudiation of the anti-terror policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro, had warm words for newly sworn-in Obama on Wednesday, in sharp contrast with decades of anti-US rhetoric.

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