Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — On December 17, 2014 a historic announcement took place. The presidents of the United States Barack Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba agreed to take the first steps leading to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations broken off over 50 years ago. A happy and optimistic world holds strong hopes that peace and tranquility have reached our region.
This ignominious chapter of hunger, sickness, pain, death and destruction that the embargo meant for the Cuban people and (which glaringly reminds us of General Valeriano Weyler Reconcentration of 1896), should not become an unsurmountable divide in America, but rather a bridge and a symbol of change on our continent.
The imperialist spirit that has governed US relations with Cuba is all too obvious. The embargo, invasions, sabotages, murders and bio-terrorism against the island are now history. The presence of the Guantanamo Naval Base exemplifies the annexation goals of the United States, which date back to the presidency of James Polk in 1840.
Originating as the spoils of war, wrested away from Cuba as a condition for retiring the US occupying forces in 1903, those 45 square miles of land, air and water, for which the US pretend to pay $4,025 a year, is a dagger in the heart of the Cuban people. It impedes the free air, land and sea navigation of a portion of Cuban territory and has severely contaminated extensive areas used as a bombing range.
The relation between GITMO and the city of Guantanamo is bittersweet. It derives from the fact that it provided 2,500 jobs in time of peace and up to 5,000 during WW II and the Korean conflict, during which and after, my family contributed approximately 150 years of service to the US Department of Defense. At that time it became a center of abuse, repression, impunity, corruption, kick-backs, massive drug addiction and sexually transmissible diseases, by creating in Guantanamo city, the largest red light district in Cuba.
The story doesn’t end there. A number of Cuban civil service employees of GITMO were detained, tortured and killed. These included Lino Rodriguez 1940; Lorenzo Salomon 1954; Manuel Prieto and Ruben Lopez Sabariego 1961, and Rodolfo Rosell in 1962. Likewise two border guards were killed, Ramon Lopez Peña 1964 and Luis Ramirez Lopez 1966. Others, including Luis Ramirez Reyes, Antonio Campos and Andres Noel Larduet, were wounded with gunshot fired by marines inside GITMO.
From mid-1959, GITMO became a center of conspiracy and sabotage, where counterrevolutionaries and others sought by Cuban authorities found refuge, support and transportation to the United States. WGBY, the Armed Forces Radio Station became bilingual and transmitted subversive and encoded messages into Cuba. Numerous simulated attacks against Cuba were conducted and millions of worthless pesos laundered.
In 1964 the GITMO Commanding Officer suddenly fired 700 employees trying to create economic chaos in Guantanamo City. The Cuban government assumed this burden by continuing to pay their salaries to avoid the economic meltdown of the city. Although most of these employees had worked for 20 or more years at GITMO, their retirement disbursement was withheld for over 30 years, a demand presented to the Secretary General of the UN Javier Perez de Cuellar and to the Vatican.
This repulsive behavior of GITMO, should not be transformed into hatred or lament, instead, it should encourage us to strive to transform GITMO into a bastion of hope, peace and development of humanity by returning this enclave intact to Cuba, restore its contaminated environment and finance:
- A Caribbean Medical Center specializing in the treatment of tropical and chronic diseases.
- An International Mental Health Center for millions of drug addicts, PTSD sufferers and other neurological ailments.
- A large middle thru university educational center for minority, poorly educated students, afflicted by poverty, drugs, early pregnancy, violence and police brutality and
- Develop an affordable and safe retirement housing and assisted living community, where was once a center of torture, horror and death.