Evacuate Guantanamo – It Belongs to Cuba

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For more than 100 years, the United States has illegitimately occupied Cuban soil. “They turned one of Cuba’s most precious natural resources, Guantanamo Bay, into a curse on the lips of the world.”

Evacuate Guantanamo – It Belongs to Cuba

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old.”

As the world witnesses the latest chapter in Israel’s occupation and blockade of Palestinians, it is important to remember that the United States has also been engaged in many of the same violations of international law against one of its own neighbors – and for an even longer period of time. The U.S. embargo against Cuba is seven years older than the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza, in 1967, while Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old, predating Israel’s 1948 formation out of Palestinian land by nearly half a century.

Guantanamo Bay was seized by the United States during the Second Cuban War of Independence from Spain, which the Americans prefer to call the Spanish American War. The United States intervened in that war in 1898, with the purpose of making Cuba into a U.S. colony, as it did to Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In 1901, the United States Senate passed the Platt Amendment, which demanded that Cuba lease naval bases to Washington. Guantanamo was signed away in perpetuity under the point of a gun, although it is a principle of international law that treaties concluded under military occupation are not valid. After the Revolution, the Cuban constitution repudiated all agreements made “under conditions of inequality.” But the Americans remained. They turned one of Cuba’s most precious natural resources, Guantanamo Bay, into a curse on the lips of the world, as a prison camp for desperate Haitian refugees, and then as a nexus of American international criminality and torture.

Most Americans know Guantanamo’s recent, shameful notoriety, but few are aware that the U.S. presence there has always been a crime against the Cuban people – a crime that goes back more than twice as far as the 1960 embargo.

In Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors.”

But Cuba does not forget. When the United Nations voted 188 to 3, last week, the U.S. embargo, Cuba submitted to Washington a “ draft agenda” aimed at normalizing relations. At the top of the list, of course, is “the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.” Also included among the “fundamental topics” for any “respectful dialogue” is “return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base.” The Cubans insist on their removal from the U.S. list of “terrorism-sponsoring countries”; an end to U.S. immigration policies that single out Cuba; compensation for economic and human damages inflicted on Cuba by the United States; a halt to “ radio and TV aggressions” against Cuba; and that the U.S. stop financing subversion inside Cuba.

The Cubans say release of the , imprisoned for infiltrating right-wing Cuban exile groups in Florida, is “an essential element” of meaningful talks.

U.S. media pundits worry that Washington has lost its ability to act as a mediator in the Middle East, because it has for generations protected the expansionist, hyper-aggressive and thoroughly racist Israeli regime. And this is true. But in Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors, through centuries of gunboat diplomacy, invasions, the colonization of Puerto Rico and the near-colonization of Cuba.  The occupation of Guantanamo Bay is part of that imperial legacy – a game in which Israel is a relative – although extremely dangerous – upstart. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at  Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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4 thoughts on “Evacuate Guantanamo – It Belongs to Cuba

  1. To have left Cuba in 1901 and keeping one harbor city is pretty magnanimous I would say. Actually during the age of coal burning steamships/warships the base was a coaling station which is why USA held on to Spanish possessions in the Pacific. I think the real reason the Spanish/American War was initiated was to steal these colonies from Spain for extended military base USA empire. I don’t see any reference to the hundreds of murders done by Castro here. I agree that USA policy in Cuba is stupid. I live in Miami, Florida where the huge Cuban exile(and now second and third generation) lives. USA listens to their rabid rage against the Cuban regime which calls for no communication, relationship or reasoning with Cuban government. This is counterproductive. The embargo should be lifted, free flow of people allowed and normal relations restored. Allowing in the light is what will make the Cuban dictatorship fall. To isolate the dictatorship makes it stronger and more entrenched.

    • In Cuba, the ‘dictatorship’ to which you refer ‘dictates’ that education is a right and must be free to all up to the tertiary level; that quality health care is a right and must be available, free of cost, to all citizens regardless of the nature and cost of the illness; that its citizens should not live in a crime and drug infested environment which dehumanizes the population; that the people should select their representatives in national elections and one’s personal wealth cannot play a role in the outcome of the elections; that the infant mortality rate, accurately and truthfully recorded, should be among the lowest in the world; that despite an unjust economic blockade by the most powerful country on the planet, the poor throughout the world should be offered scholarships to study medicine in Cuba so that they can go back to their countries and help those unable to afford the relatively high cost of health care.
      Life has taught us, and is teaching us again now in Libya, what will happen when this ‘dictatorship falls’ and is replaced by a ‘democratic’ state.
      Like all countries, Cuba has its strengths and weaknesses, but it is time we start calling a spade a spade.

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