Cuba Awaits Return of Guantanamo Bay
Cuba is patiently waiting for justice to prevail and thus recover one of its most important bays and 17 kilometers of coastline.
Since 1903, the United States has occupied 117.6 km2 of Cuban territory against the will of the Cuban people, through the Platt Amendment, a US law imposed on the first Cuban Constitution. The one-sided treaty gave the US the territory for an unspecified period “until they need it.”
While the pre-revolution governments with a subservient US stance, refrained from protesting the occupation, ever since 1959 Cuba has firmly demanded that the Pentagon leave its territory.
The issue is so cut and dry that a preschooler could understand what’s right and wrong, but ten successive US administrations have barefacedly ignored the fact that their military facility is not welcome.
Now that the US Naval Base has also turned into a camp for prisoners without legal rights and where torture is routinely practiced to extract information, the eyes of the world have focused on what analysts call a showcase of the hypocrisy of US foreign policy.
Besides its unwanted presence and use as an offshore prison camp to sidestep US justice, the Naval Base is also becoming an environmental nightmare. Peter Lawlor of the Guantanamo Naval Media Center notes in the February 24 edition of the base newspaper The Guantanamo Bay Gazette: “An increase of hazardous materials is turning up at the base landfill.” These include “batteries, aerosol cans, cleaning solvents, paint, tires and televisions.”
Fred Burns, Environmental Director for the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, told the Gazette: “Essentially what we’re doing is creating a problem 10, 20, 50 years from now.”
Environmental degradation of what was a pristine Cuban bay is nothing new. According to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, US military exercises have caused ecological damage to the surrounding areas, and highly dangerous nuclear submarines have been used in the past.
The Pentagon bills the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay as having a “unique posture in the Western Hemisphere in that it is the oldest US base outside the continental United States, and the only one in a country that does not enjoy an open political relationship with the United States.”
Just like the US blockade imposed on Cuba nearly a half century ago, and condemned by nearly every country on earth, the United States occupation of Cuban territory at Guantanamo remains a shameful legacy that neither Republicans nor their Democrat partners have so far wanted to rectify.