POLITICS

As relations ease, Cuba demands return of 'illegally occupied' Guantanamo Base

  • GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 26:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.) An American flag flies over Camp VI at the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' on June 26, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 26: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.) An American flag flies over Camp VI at the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' on June 26, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2012 file photo reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, towers overlooking a U.S. detention facility are silhouetted against a morning sunrise at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. A Republican-led Senate panel on Feb. 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a major roadblock in President Barack Obama’s push to close the detention center.(AP Photo/Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2012 file photo reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, towers overlooking a U.S. detention facility are silhouetted against a morning sunrise at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. A Republican-led Senate panel on Feb. 12, 2015, narrowly approved legislation that would bar most transfers of terror suspects from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a major roadblock in President Barack Obama’s push to close the detention center.(AP Photo/Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, File)  (ap)

As President Obama announced that Cuba was restoring full diplomatic relations, reopening embassies in Washington and Havana after more than five decades, Cuba was once again demanding the U.S. return Guantanamo to the country.

“To achieve normalization [of diplomatic relations] it will be essential also that the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is returned,” read a declaration posted on Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party in the island.

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, home to Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2012, is located on 45 square miles of a bay the U.S. leased for use as a coaling and naval station in 1903.

In the 700-word declaration, the Cuban government also demands the U.S. end the transmission of anti-Castro radio and television broadcasts on the island.

The demands echo, almost word by word, those made by President Raul Castro back in January, during the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit on Costa Rica.

“Radio and television transmissions to Cuba (…) are in violation of international law and are harmful to our sovereignty policies,” the declaration reads, while demanding also that “programs aimed at promoting internal subversion and destabilization be stopped.”

Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, heralding a "new chapter" in relations after a half-century of hostility.

"We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," Obama said from White House Rose Garden. "Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward."

Cuban television broadcast Obama's statement live, underscoring the new spirit. A state television anchor read a letter from Cuban President Raul Castro to Obama in which he wrote that Cuba is "encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations and cooperation between our people and governments."

The embassy agreement marks the biggest tangible step toward normalizing relations since the surprise announcement in December that the U.S. and Cuba were restarting diplomatic ties. The posts in Washington and Havana are scheduled to open July 20, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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