The Obama administration is seeking to conduct a joint security exercise with communist Cuba. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) is seeking to block the development, and has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to rescind an invitation to Cuba to participate in the coming Caribbean Nations Security Conference to be held this month in Jamaica. Cuba, despite diplomatic rapprochement in the 2015 with the United States, has continued to criticize its northern neighbor over foreign policy and other issues. Moreover, Cuba remains in possession of a U.S.-made Hellfire missile that was somehow mistakenly sent from NATO ally France to Cuba.
Given Cuba’s intransigence, Cruz said in his letter that including Cuba in sensitive discussions about Caribbean Basin security is “reckless.” He wrote that any invitation to the communist government of Cuba should be withdrawn “at the very least until the Hellfire is returned to the United States.” Congress may consider blocking the joint security exercise. Cruz argues that it is not in the current national of the U.S. to include Cuba in the talks involved. He wants an answer from Carter by January 25 with reference to Cuba, which he called America’s “implacable enemy.” Cruz also pointed out Cuba’s involvement with destabilizing Colombia and Venezuela.
Cruz wrote that it seems “recklessly premature to participate in a joint security exercise with Cuba this month, especially as they seem likely to only use it as a platform from which to demand the return of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.” The senator was referring to indications that Cuba will demand that the United States return the land on which the naval station is located to Cuban control. Under treaty, the U.S. has control of Guantanamo Bay in perpetuity.
“I would like to know the rationale behind this decision, aind I urge you to reconsider this invitation at the very least until the Hellfire is returned to the United States,” Cruz wrote. He also said that there are conversations going on in Congress that could bar the Obama administration from going ahead with the military exercises. “I also warn you of my intention to insert language into the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting any future such joint exercises until Congress receives convincing assurances that the anti-American posture of the Castro regime has undergone a material change,” Cruz wrote.
Even while the Obama administration renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba and removed it from the terror list, Cuba continues to harbor fugitives from American justice. Among them is a woman who was convicted in 1977 of murdering a New Jersey state police officer.
Earlier this month, Gen. John Kelly – the commander of U.S. Southern Command – disclosed that Cuban officials would participate in the annual Caribbean conference, which is run by SOUTHCOM. “We’ve normalized now and, regardless of how we think of each other in terms of politics, we have very, very common challenges,” Gen. Kelly said.