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  • 62nd anniversary of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba.

    62nd anniversary of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. | Photo: Granma

Cuba's leaders raised their voices again at a ceremony to commemorate a crucial moment in the island's history.

The Cuban government once again demanded the U.S. lift the 50-year-old economic blockade on the island and to return the occupied territory of Guantanamo.

"With the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the first phase of the process, initiated on 17 December last year, was completed. Now starts a long and complex path towards normalization of bilateral relations including, among other things, the lifting of the blockade and the return of Guantanamo Bay," said Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, second secretary of the ruling communist party PCC.

The leader's statements took place during the ceremony to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba, which was attended by the nation’s top of the political and military leadership, including President Raul Castro.

Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, second secretary of the PCC

Meanwhile, President Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, recently outlined details of a plan to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

During a speech at the Aspen Security Conference on Saturday, Monaco revealed that the Obama Administration is drafting a proposal to be submitted to members of congress.

According to Monaco, the plan would involve a wide range of security measures to facilitate prisoner transfers, including 52 detainees who have been determined as eligible for release by the U.S. government, while relocating the rest to maximum-security facilities in the United States.

However, the plan has been meet with skepticism and criticism from Republicans in Congress.

Republican representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, criticized Obama’s policy on Saturday, calling it “reckless and dangerous policy.” Previous attempts to close the facility have been blocked by provisions included in annual defense authorization laws.

RELATED: After More Than 50 Years, Cuba and US Exchange Embassies

Six days ago, Cuba and the United States formally resumed ties after 54 years and the Cuban flag was raised over the Caribbean island's embassy in Washington.

The end of an icy era in relations between Washington and Havana has been applauded by the world but there are complex issues to resolve in order to reach a full normalization, as the blockade stills in force since 1962 and the territory of Guantanamo has not been returned since 1903 when it was rented without a contract completion date.

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