Close the Guantanamo Base Now

Rosa Martinez

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 20 — This past weekend my daughter Tania visited Caimanera, the town  here in Guantanamo Province just north of the US naval base; it was her first time. Previously she had been told about the existence of the nearby American base, when and how it arose, and what it means to most Cubans.

When she found out about the base she wanted to know what it was doing there, if the people who lived there were Cubans or Americans, if they spoke English or Spanish, and if they were white or black. So I explained it all to her.

Tania’s interest in the base was again sparked recently, but this time she wanted to know about the prison. She heard a story about the prisoners of war that the US is holding there in violation of all types of international laws.

My little girl said that the United States always does what it wants, but then she asked why?

Caimanera is also the municipality in Cuba that encompasses the naval base that was robbed by the US in 1903 through an underhanded treaty, and over this past decade that base has been one of that country’s biggest embarrassments.

Its existence was already a violation of Cuban sovereignty; it is an area that belongs to the Cuban people in their own right, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

What’s worse for the world is that in this ignominious prison there still languish 170 detainees, of whom 12 have been in that jail since it was opened on January 11, 2002.

Needless to say, many abuses and acts of torture on those detained have taken place there in the name of “fighting terrorism.” The whole world knows of these atrocities; we’ve all seen the videos and photos, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Mr. Obama and his clique.

Of all the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo, one was convicted — in 2008, by a military commission that gave him life imprisonment — but nearly all the rest haven’t been charged with any crime. According to Amnesty International, the US government is seeking the death sentence against six prisoners who were convicted in “unfair” trials.

Over the ten years of existence that this base is now marking this month, some 750 detainees have been held there. The arrests, torture and acts of humiliation to which these men have been subjected, in addition to all types of human rights violations they have suffered, are further evidence that the United States government does what it pleases.

Citizens and countries around the world take up and wage campaigns in the fight against environmental pollution, homophobia, gender violence and discrimination, as well as hunger and poverty.

Similar efforts are needed to shut down this unjust US prison for once and for all.

2 thoughts on “Close the Guantanamo Base Now

  • i remember when i was a kid that the base had a contract of 100 years,it was supposed to end in 1998,i did the math and i was in old enough to be a soldier and be sent to take back the base,and when i got to that age nothing happened,so i think cuba leased the base another term?????can someone elborate on that?????

  • From its birth, Guantanamo Bay have been a dagger in the heart of our country. Following a fake Spanish-American war in which no one invited the US intervention, they ended up with 45 square miles of Cuban soil with one of the best deep water bays in the world, by blackmailing the puppet Cuban government of Tomas Estrada Palma in 1902, to lease this facility or the occupation of Cuba would not end!!

    The history of this enclave on Guantanamo , have been one of corruption, prostitution, kick backs, drug addiction,bribe, torture and deaths. A chronic lack of jobs in this region, forced approximately 2200 employee to suffer and accept every form of segregation, fear, physical abuses and death.

    By creating the largest Red Light District in the country, all women of Guantanamo were tarnished nation-wide and presumed workers of this industry. Physical abuse, rape, sexually transmissible diseases, created the highest index of Syphylis and Lepra in the nation.

    Sailors on shore leave, terrorized city dwellers, who were forced to change their lifestyle, by going to church, restaurants and night clubs on Sunday mornings and returning home before the arrival of the train at 4:00 PM. They were immune to all and every crime committed in Guantanamo and if any Cuban citizen came out in defense of an aggression to anyone by an American military, the Cuban would be incarcerated and the American would walk free.

    Tens of of civil servants working on the base were ruffed-up, beaten and thrown in the briggs. At least 4 were tortured and killed and a number of Cuban border guards were shot, two of whom died.

    As a political reprisal against Cuban workers on this enclave after the Cuban government decided to stop providing drinking water to this enclave, over 700 hundred employees were fired on the spot, hoping to create an economic chaos in Cuba.

    Thousands of Cuban civilian employees of Guantanamo Bay, have had their retirement benefits frozen in the US for over half a century, while these loyal employees who served faithfully before, during and after every military conflict in which the US government have been involved, are old, hungry, sick, bitter or dead.

    Acting as a spearhead, Guantanamo have been directly involved in every internal matter of Cuba, intervening militarily at will, in support of Cuba worst governments or dictators. In 1912, from Guantanamo Bay, nearly 1000 soldiers came out of this enclave to support the government of Jose Miguel Gomez, as his army slaughtered over 3000 blacks and mix race Cubans, in Guantanamo, Songo-La Maya, Santiago de Cuba and San Luis, in what have become Cuba’s most repugnant crime.

    During the Missile crisis, this facility posed enormous threat to Cuba, after it was re-enforced with strategic bombers, ready to bomb Cuba back into the stone ages.

    Can anyone remember the infamous case of Arroyo Blanco in 1964, when the US plotted, -just like the Maine or Gulf of Tonkin- an auto-aggression to the base, with Cubans who were trained in Central America, returned to the base, equipped with Cuban Army fatigue and weapons and infiltrated into Cuba with orders to attack this enclave, providing the US government with the tool to repel this aggression, by invading and destroying Cuba.

    What about turning the Base into the largest safe-haven in the western hemisphere for every crook, counterrevolutionary, child abuser, thief or murderer being sought by the Cuban authorities, who knew, they only needed to jump or swim across the US-CUBA border, where they would receive shelter, meals, an I-94 entitling them to work and a free flight back to the US, which thousands made good use of?

    How can anyone with a minimum of self respect accept, that in addition to these pages of crime, abuse and demoralization, Imperial US is offended, because the Cuban government have refused to cash its yearly check of $4,200.00 for the illegally occupied 45 square miles of prime Cuban territory/waters, which is half or less of any home owner’s mortgage in the US. Shame!

    May this partial legacy of the presence of the United States occupation of Guantanamo, illustrate its tragic past, present and future.

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