By Henry G. Delforn*
HAVANA TIMES – Really? … “returned”? – I don’t think so. Nonetheless, that was the insinuating headline from the Miami Herald long ago when the now retired president of Cuba addressed CELAC in 2015 . The headline was not a direct quote and it is not what I literally heard in the speech. The speech contained no ultimatum for relations, this was a misinterpretation due to cultural differences. Fact is, normal relations can, and did, continue in the Obama thaw without Guantanamo. The issue of Guantanamo is not that big of a deal in light of Cuba’s embargoed economy. The issue is more idealistic than practical. And frankly, based on my experience, I don’t believe Cuba gives Guantanamo any priority; the Lineamientos, as well as other things, speak for themselves.
One other thing that speaks for itself is Cuba’s legal effort to take back Guantanamo (not “returned”). Oh sure, much has been written on the legalities of Guantanamo. Take for example, the 2015 article by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “The Guantanamo Base, A U.S. Colonial Relic Impeding Peace with Cuba”. The article provides good details of the legal basis for Cuba’s objection to the occupation. It even devotes a section called, “International Law: An Opportunity for Legal Appeal”, describing where Cuba appealed to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the illegality of the military base, as well as, the rightful legal issue of what i term “contract signed under duress” due to the Platt Amendment , now that’s a definite ultimatum! And say nothing of the countless times Guantanamo is mentioned by Cuban government representatives. But this is all just talk, there is no legal action, no lawsuits being filed to take back Guantanamo. So there can’t be much real interest.
It may appear reasonable for someone to say, well hey look, Cuba can’t afford to spend much on legal battles, after all Cuba hasn’t taken any direct legal court action on embargo laws either, be it in U.S. courts or internationally, so clearly, they can’t afford the legal battles. The response to that would be maybe, maybe it’s true that resources are better spent on food security, limiting the embargo battles to the arena of public opinion via decades of U.N. resolutions. But there are no similar battles for Guantanamo! Why not also battle for Guantanamo in the “court” of public opinion via U.N. resolutions based on the findings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?
Why not take action to seek a General Assembly resolution pursuant to Article 96 of the U.N. Charter  requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ on whether the U.S. is in violation of the Guantanamo lease? This action has relatively minimal legal cost and it leads to yet another international U.S. embarrassment. Fact is, this tactic was suggested to a Nicaraguan ambassador, H.E. Carlos J. Argüello-Gómez, as a diplomatic pass-along to his Cuban counterparts. Why ambassador Argüello? Because he is experienced with the ICJ. In 1984 he attempted to bring justice to the criminal actions of U.S. foreign policy in Nicaragua before the ICJ . And while we do not know if the good ambassador actually executed the pass-along, we do know that the Cuban Ministry of Justice has no response to the proposal.
So hey Miami Herald, Guantanamo is no big thing for Cuba, trust me.
(*) Guest author Henry G. Delforn is an investor (Cuban-born U.S. citizen who enjoys his independent political affiliation liberties).