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Posted January 26, 2006 by mattlawrence in Castro's Cuba

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Posted on Thu, Jan. 26, 2006
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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba—The Cuban army general who has been the Pentagon’s primary contact with this isolated U.S. Navy base has retired and been replaced by a navy captain, the U.S. commander here says.

Brig. Gen. Jose Solar Hernndez, commander of the Frontier Brigade deployed around the base, announced his retirement Jan. 20 at the monthly regularly meeting held along the fence that separates the Navy facility from Cuba proper.

He was replaced by Cuban Navy Capt. Pedro Romn Cisneros, U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Leary told The Miami Herald in an interview this week.

The United States and Cuba started monthly meetings here a decade ago to avert misunderstandings between U.S. Marines and Cuban soldiers who face off across a 17.4-mile fence.

For example, before the United States opened the 8,000-mile air-bridge that brought al Qaeda and Taliban suspects here from Afghanistan in January 2002, the U.S. side used the fence-line meeting to notify the Cuban government of its intent to hold suspected terrorists on the 45-square-mile base.

The job of commanding the Frontier Guard unit is significant because it signals the Cuban government’s trust in a person who regularly meets with U.S. officers.

Leary said the new commander, Cisneros, is a veteran navy officer of 37 years who served in submarines. Cuba is believed to have retired its three submarines nearly a decade ago after the loss of Soviet subsidies to Havana.

Cuba had a small, Soviet-supplied naval fleet during the Cold War. But military analysts describe its navy today as a tiny, short-range force whose purpose is to defend the coast and intercept civilian vessels on unauthorized trips.

Leary reported that so far there has been a seamless transition from Solar to Cisneros, who already has engaged in a routine e-mail exchange with the base through a special communications link.

U.S. officials said they had advance notice from Solar of his retirement, so Leary bought a humidor at the base commissary and had it engraved with a crest as a farewell present.

‘‘He seemed genuinely pleased with it,’’ said Leary.
2006 MiamiHerald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 30, 2006 by Quannah Combs

    This is a great article.  Shows very civil and diplomatic relations between two militaries forced to cooperate.  When politicians, who are supposed to be the best compromisers and cooperators, can’t do either at all.  Seems like we should turn diplomatic relations over to both militaries, maybe something would finally go right between the two countries.
    - Quannah

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