A New Bargaining Chip? The Guantánamo Undersea Cable

Written by Larry Press

There’s already a controversy around a proposed Guantánamo undersea cable. Larry Press investigates.

aNewDomain — Guantánamo has been in the news lately.  Cuban leader Raúl Castro insists that it be returned to Cuba. But the planned undersea cable that will connect Guantánamo to an unspecified location in Florida is the Guantánamo story conspicuously missing from the news coverage.

guantanamocable2600The estimated completion date for the cable is December 2015. It’ll become a bargaining chip in US-Cuba negotiations well before then.

Though no technical details have been released, Ronald Bechtold, who was chief information officer at the Secretary of Defense’s office, has described the cable as a “gigantic bundle,” adding: “It’s going to be for the entire island in anticipation that one day that they’ll be able to extend it into mainland Cuba.”

Army Colonel Greg Julian immediately denied Bechtold’s comments. “There is no plan for the Southcom to provide fiber-optic communications support to mainland Cuba,” he said. The project goal is merely to improve communications for the workers stationed at Guantánamo. Added Julian:

[Bechtold] was out of his mind. He is no longer working for the Department of Defense.”

Bechtold was scheduled to retire as a civilian employee of the Defense Department at the time he made the statement.

Colonel Julian said there was no plan to extend the cable.If Cuba is sincere about increased Internet access, though, this will be the way to go.

For aNewDomain, I’m Larry Press.

Cover image: by U.S. Navy photo by Oscar Sosa [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons