• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How to Close Guantanamo

President Barack Obama once again has made it plain that he intends to close Guantanamo. Those who doubted his previous promises on immigrant rights and Cuba should realize that he is serious about Guantanamo as well.

Most of the remaining 122 Guantanamo detainees, including 47 of 54 already cleared for release, are from Yemen. Obama cannot realistically send them back to that unstable center of civil strife and chaos. He therefore is proceeding to release small handfuls of detainees to places like Uruguay while asking congressional Republicans to lift their ban on sending Guantanamo detainees to high-security U.S. prisons. If those efforts prove fruitless, there now is a new way to achieve his promise:

Return Guantanamo to Cuban sovereignty, where it belongs historically.

Arrange to release the remaining detainees to Cuban soil under Cuban security. Involve regional diplomats, the United Nations and the Vatican in working out the arrangements.

With changing times, there is no national security or commercial argument for Guantanamo remaining under U.S. control. The base is a complete anachronism on the one hand, and a constant blight on America’s global reputation.

The 45-square mile Guantanamo base was taken as a consequence of the 1901 Platt amendment, over the objections of a Cuban constitutional assembly. It was meant to locate coaling or naval stations for the projection of American military power in the region. The underlying strategic reason was declared by the island’s American overseer, Col. Leonard Wood, chief commander of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, in 1901:

With the control which we have over Cuba, a control which will soon undoubtedly become possession … we shall soon practically control the sugar trade of the world … the island will gradually become Americanized and we shall have in time one of the richest and most desirable possessions in the world.

Those days are over, and so is the Cold War, when the base was considered strategic for rapid response to guerrilla insurgencies or Soviet expansion. Similarly, the Panama Canal was returned to Panama in 1977 without any significant geopolitical consequences, although it cost Jimmy Carter serious political capital at home.

Today, when the U.S. is attempting to build more constructive relations with Latin America and facing non-military competitors like China for influence, Guantanamo is a burden.

It will shock many Americans to realize that the U.S. attempts to pay Cuba less than $5,000 annually for use of the base, and that the Cubans have not cashed any of the checks (since an accidental cashing in 1959, according to Castro), a gesture of refusal that has lasted more than a century.

The Cubans have rightly worried in past decades that Guantanamo would be used as a launching pad for American troops against Cuba. Sixteen thousand U.S. Marines were deployed there during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The base was a support station for the 1994 U.S. invasion of Haiti. U.S. military exercises have been conducted on a number of occasions, including beach landings by Marines.

The prestige of the U.S. Navy, which is broadly questioned as gunboat diplomacy in Latin America, is hardly a reason to defend a base whose purposes are obsolete. The Obama administration should be conducting talks at the highest levels, if it has not already begun, in order to correct the injustice of Guantanamo not only as a torture site but as a violation of the sovereignty of a state with whom our government finally is normalizing relations.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 23, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Belligerence of Empire
Ralph Nader
What and Who Gave Us Trump?
Ramzy Baroud
Madonna’s Fake Revolution: Eurovision, Cultural Hegemony and Resistance
Tom Engelhardt
Living in a Nation of Political Narcissists
Binoy Kampmark
Challenging Orthodoxies: Alabama’s Anti-Abortion Law
Thomas Klikauer
Why Reactionaries Won in Australia
John Steppling
A New Volkisch Mythos
Cathy Breen
So Many Wars: Remembering Friends in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan and Turkey 
Chuck Collins
Ending the Generational Abuse of Student Debt
Robert J. Burrowes
Understanding NATO, Ending War
Nyla Ali Khan
Dilution of “Kashmiriyat” and Regional Nationalism
May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail