Days before President Barack Obama sets foot in Cuba - the first U.S. President since 1928 - a pair of American scientists proposed that Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, dubbed Gitmo, be transformed into a marine research center and international peace park.

In the proposal published in the journal Science, the researchers suggested that the station becomes a conservation zone to help resolve conflicts between the two countries.

American Presence At Gitmo

For more than 100 years, there has been American presence at Guantanamo Bay. When Cuba won its independence from Spain, the U.S. has occupied the island in 1898.

Havana was obliged to lease Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. as a naval station. The lease is perpetual and could only be broken by mutual consent.

This is under the 1903 Cuban-American treaty, but since the '60s, Cuba declared that the U.S. presence on the island is illegal. Cuba refused to cash the annual rent check of $4,085.

To address the conflict, the Obama recently voiced out his desire to close the detention facility. This can normalize the relations between the two countries.

Here's The Plan

U.S. scientists, Joe Roman and James Kraska, said that if the plan would push through, Guantanamo could become the "Woods Hole of the Caribbean."

If the island will be transformed into a U.S. ocean science center, it could open doors to attain the administration's campaign to close the prison while protecting nature reserve.

"Now the U.S. embassy in Cuba is open, more business and tourists will be coming, which will place more pressure on coastal systems," said Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont.

The scientists see the island as an opportunity to help Cuba develop toward sustainability. This will help not only people from both countries, but also wildlife.

"This model, designed to attract both sides, could unite Cuba and the United States in joint management, rather than serve as a wedge between them, while helping meet the challenges of climate change, mass extinction and declining coral reefs," the researchers said.

Aside from possibly ironing the relationship between the two countries, the scientists believe that since Cuba is a developing country, rebooting Gitmo could help it pursue a more sustainable and eco-friendly path.

Photo:The U.S. Army | Flickr

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