CAIMANERA, Cuba – A lighthouse at the Punta de Maisi in the province of Guantanamo marks the easternmost point of Cuba. It was a stop during a recent tour that Cuban government officials hosted for foreign journalists.
The government tour also included stops to state-run factories. One of them employed more than 200 workers who assemble furniture for tourist destinations and another was a plant that processes about half of Cuba's coffee exports.
The tour also focused on the Guantanamo Bay Base. Cuban authorities said the presence of the 45-square-mile base U.S. military base remains a point of contention with the United States. Caimanera, a town with a population of about 12,000, is near the base.
Jose Calvino Perez, the town's president, said most of the fish and salt are in the outer bay where the base is located. If the U.S. returned the territory, the resources there would contribute to the development of the province, said Donna Baños Guerra, the Guantanamo province vice president.
Critics of the Cuban government argue the economic woes of Guantanamo and elsewhere on the island are the fault of the heavily state run socialist economy and the lack of economic freedoms. The private sector on the island makes up for only about 4 percent of the overall economy.
The Cuban government disagrees and continues to argue the base is illegally occupied and must be returned. With a U.S. Congress with lawmakers who rarely even agree on domestic issues, policy experts who follow U.S.-Cuba relations closely don’t see how the issue of the base will be resolved.