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Issue #1671      February 4, 2015

Guantánamo belongs to Cuba

Cuban President Raul Castro has justice and international law on his side when he demands that the United States return the illegally occupied Guantánamo Bay naval base.

The world’s overweening superpower has hundreds of bases in foreign countries, of course – 130 of the world’s 193 UN member states hosts some form of US military presence. Washington’s hard-nosed militarists and their media cheerleaders see nothing wrong with what amounts to the military occupation of half the planet.

They delight in such designations as “the world’s policeman” and “the indispensable nation” in order to maintain the myth that wars begun by the US are in some way legitimate. Certainly they have convinced themselves. The irony of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s response to Crimea’s vote to reunify with Russia last year – “you don’t just invade a country on a phoney pretext in order to assert your interests” – must have been lost on him, or the state which started the Yugoslav, Afghan and Iraq wars on just such phoney pretexts would have been forewarned about the international ridicule that followed.

There is nothing legitimate about US global power. The worldwide network of military bases is quite simply the enforcement wing of a ruthless imperialist state so paranoid about its pre-eminence that it responds hysterically to challenges from even the smallest countries.

The five-decade-and-counting blockade of Cuba, pursued in the teeth of repeated denunciations by the United Nations, is proof of that. And there are a number of reasons why the Guantánamo Bay naval base is an even greater affront to another nation’s sovereignty than all the others scattered across the globe.

For one thing, although the presence of US soldiers from Britain to Japan is generally unpopular with the peoples of the host nations, most bases are at least agreed to by the relevant country’s government.

Not so with Guantánamo Bay. True, the base was leased to the United States by the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903 – but as Cuba points out, this treaty was signed under duress.

It was part of Cuba’s grudging acceptance of the Platt amendment, which committed the island to allow the US to lease land for bases. Cuba had to sign in return for the withdrawal of a US occupation army.

Cuba has demanded the return of the land ever since the 1959 socialist revolution that put the country on the path to true independence from Washington.

Since then, Cuba has refused to accept the absurdly minuscule annual payments made by the US for the base – the figure of US$4,085 has been unchanged since 1934. Fidel Castro memorably showed an interviewer a desk drawer full of the uncashed cheques – still made out to the obsolete “treasurer-general of the republic” post – in 2007.

And since the beginning of the so-called war on terror, the grotesque use to which the base has been put provides another reason why this involuntary “lease” must be terminated.

In direct breach of its own original treaty with Cuba, which states that the base can only be used as a naval and coaling station, it has become home to the world’s most infamous prison camp.

Its inmates have been kidnapped from countries around the world by special forces or sold to the US by a variety of blood-soaked police states. They have then languished in legal limbo for years. Most have never been charged with a crime, many – like British resident Shaker Aamer – have even been “cleared for release,” but still they remain, victims of false imprisonment, torture and force-feeding, trapped in a never-ending Kafkaesque nightmare.

It is high time this travesty of justice and insult to the Cuban people was ended. Now the Cuban 5 are free, the liberation of Guantánamo is a top priority for all who stand in solidarity with the Cuban revolution.

Morning Star

Next article – McDonald’s sued for racial, sexual discrimination

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