[Marxism] Re: How the US Stole Guantanamo Bay from Cuba
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sun Mar 5 13:48:58 MST 2006
> Cuba has surprisingly come under fire from some quarters for
> allowing such behaviour on its land. But Cuba has no power over
> this area of its own soil, as for the last hundred years Guantanamo
> Bay has been occupied by the United States and is separated from
> the rest of Cuba by one of the world's deadliest minefields.
> . . .
> As if all this were not bad enough, even the terms of the
> Guantanamo Bay lease have been broken by the United States. The
> 1903 treaty permits a "base for naval and coaling purposes" and
> goes on to say that any commercial use would be illegal. But it is
> well-known that Guantanamo Bay now contains several commercial
> concessions, including a bowling alley and a fast-food chain.
> Other uses have included an internment camp for Haitian refugees in
> the early 1990s,* a logistical base for the US’s regime-changing
> invasions of Grenada and Panama, numerous acts of provocation
> against Cuba, as well as its present disgraceful as a prison camp -
> all of which break the terms of the lease.
> How the US stole Guantanamo Bay from Cuba: a cautionary tale
> By Kaleem Omar
Although the Cuban government is in an impossible military position
regarding any physical action against the U.S. government's illegal
position of Guantanamo, in my opinion, some of its statements have
unfortunately and unnecessarily undermined its moral if not its legal
The original treaty was blatantly illegal and in violation of all
standards for international treaties. However, putting that aside,
the U.S. has materially violated all of terms of that treaty and
thereby rendered it null and void. This has not been aggressively
argued by Cuba. Its "equable" language below and elsewhere seems to
rely totally on the illegality of the original treaty, perhaps
feeling that it would undermine that position if it emphasized the
The language of the following passage doesn't even make the point
that the treaty has been materially breached. It also makes it more
difficult for defenders of Cuba and opponents of the Iraq war to
raise the issue. Furthermore, there is no reason for Cuba to have
used such soft language regarding its cooperation in making sure that
the illegally captured prisoners would be well treated. This implies
a mutuality which not only undermines the present breach, but also
undermines the original illegal seizure.
Here is the language of the original illegal treaty. The treaty of
1934 incorporates the language of the 1903 treaty as follows: "the
stipulations of [the 1903] agreement with regard to the naval station
of Guantánamo shall continue in effect."
The 1903 treaty reads: "The grant of the foregoing Article shall
include the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas
of land and water, and to improve and deepen the entrances thereto
and the anchorages therein, and generally to do any and all things
necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations
only, AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE." [My emphasis]
Argued more fully at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/052305B.shtml
The statement of the Cuban government follows:
At the same time, that is also the place where it would be easier for
people interested in bringing about conflicts between the two
countries to undertake plans aimed at attracting aggressive actions
against our people in their heroic political, economic and
ideological resistance vis-à-vis the enormous power of the United
Our country has been particularly thoughtful about applying there a
specially cautious and equable policy.
It should be pointed out, however, that even if for decades there was
quite a lot of tension in the area of the Guantanamo naval base,
there have been changes there in the past few years and now an
atmosphere of mutual respect prevails.
In 1994, when a large number of rafters sent by the U.S. authorities
concentrated there, the situation created determined the need to
solve the numerous problems that had been accumulating, which
endangered the lives of many. Some people interested in migrating to
the United States from our own territory attempted to do so through
the base, while not few tried to leave the American military base and
return to our country crossing mined fields. Accidents occurred and
often our soldiers had to take major risks to rescue people from the
mined fields. Such actions also required information and cooperation
from the personnel stationed at the base. Additionally, there were
the heavy rains and swollen rivers in the area that swept away mines
and blurred their markings which gave rise to similarly hazardous
situations for all.
Such circumstances contributed to an improvement of the atmosphere
there and to authorized, albeit minimal, contacts that were
indispensable to those in positions of responsibility on both sides
of the base area. Consequently, what prevails there today is not what
could be described as an atmosphere of hostility or war.
Two new international developments have had a bearing on the
situation in that base: the war in Kosovo in 1999 and the war in
Afghanistan after the terrorist acts of September 11. In both cases,
the United States has played a protagonist role.
In the former case there was a large number of Kosovars refugees. The
Government of the United States of America, in accordance with
previous commitments, made the decision to use the military base to
shelter a number of them. Such decisions are always made
unilaterally; our views are never previously asked; and, we were
never even informed. However, on that occasion, for the first time,
we were informed of the decision and the rational behind it. We then
gave a constructive response.
Although we were opposed to that war, there was no reason for us to
oppose the assistance that the Kosovars refugees might need. We even
offered our country’s cooperation, if necessary, to provide medical
care or any other services that might be required. Ultimately, the
refugees were not sent to Guantanamo naval base.
This time the decision has been adopted to bring prisoners of the war
in Afghanistan to that military base. The same as in the past, we
were not consulted but there was a gesture in previously providing
ample and detailed information on the steps that would be taken to
accommodate the prisoners there and ensure that the security of our
people is not in anyway jeopardized. The latest details were given to
the Cuban authorities last Monday, January 7, 2002.
The information supplied indicates that there will be a strong
reinforcement of the military personnel at the base in charge of
taking the necessary measures for the accomplishment of their
Despite the fact that we hold different positions as to the most
efficient way to eradicate terrorism, the difference between Cuba and
the United States lies in the method and not in the need to put an
end to that scourge, --so familiar to our people that have been its
victim for more than 40 years-- the same that last September 11 dealt
a repulsive and brutal blow to the American people.
Although the transfer of foreign war prisoners by the United States
government to one of its military facilities --located in a portion
of our land over which we have no jurisdiction, as we have been
deprived of it-- does not abide by the provisions that regulated its
inception, we shall not set any obstacles to the development of the
Having been apprised of the operation and aware of the fact that it
demands a considerable movement of personnel and means of air
transportation, the Cuban authorities will keep in contact with the
personnel at the American naval base to adopt such measures as may be
deemed convenient to avoid the risk of accidents that might put in
jeopardy the lives of the personnel thus transported.
Despite the major increase of military personnel that such an
operation will require, we feel that it does not pose any threat to
the national security of our country. Therefore, we will not increase
the Cuban personnel or the military means stationed in the area of
that facility. Our highly disciplined and qualified personnel suffice
to ensure the safety of the population in the region in case of any
danger that might originate with the transfer of the foreign
prisoners to that base.
Cuba will make every effort to preserve the atmosphere of détente and
mutual respect that has prevailed in that area in the past few years.
The government of Cuba appreciates the previous information supplied
and has taken note with satisfaction of the public statements made by
the U.S. authorities in the sense that the prisoners will be accorded
an adequate and humane treatment that may be monitored by the
International Red Cross.
Although the exact number of prisoners that will be concentrated
there is not yet known, just like on the occasion of the project to
transfer to that place thousands of Kosovars refugees, we are willing
to cooperate with the medical services required as well as with
sanitation programs in the surrounding areas under our control to
keep them clean of vectors and pests. Likewise, we are willing to
cooperate in any other useful, constructive and humane way that may
* An article on the use of Cuba for both Haitian refugees and Cubans
is at http://makeashorterlink.com/?X1BC26EBC
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