Scientists Want To Turn Guantanamo Bay Into A Research Park

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, questions remain about America’s changing relationship with the island nation. Chief among those: What will happen to Guantanamo Bay?

The question has become a sticking point in negotiations between the two countries. For Cuban President Raúl Castro, returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba is a sine qua non for a full rapprochement.

“In order to move forward towards normalization, it will also be necessary to return the territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo Naval Base,” Castro told reporters in a press conference with Obama on Monday, according to Time magazine.

For its part, the U.S. has made it clear that returning Guantanamo is not up for discussion, at least for now. But scientists have proposed a third option for the land: turn Guantanamo Bay into a protected area for environmental research.

Joe Roman, a fellow at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, had the idea while traveling in Cuba last summer.

“I was trying to think of a future that could be pretty inspirational,” Roman told The Huffington Post about his proposal for the research facility.

With James Kraska, a law professor at the Naval War College, Roman published an article in the journal Science last week proposing to convert the 45-square-mile section of Cuba’s coast into a protected area for research on climate change and biodiversity. Converting the land into a park would allow scientists to conduct important studies, protect some of Cuba’s well-preserved ecosystems and improve diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba.

“We could confront one of biggest issues of 21st century — climate change and biodiversity loss,” Roman said.

The U.S. has controlled Guantanamo Bay since 1903. The U.S. Navy technically leases the land —> Read More