Is It Time to Give Back Guantanamo Bay?
End the Imperialist Outpost
By Jacob G. Hornberger
The US government’s naval base, prison camp, and “judicial” center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, represent perfectly the two features of the US government that have proved most destructive to our constitutional order: empire and national-security statism.
It began with the US government’s fateful turn from a constitutional republic to an empire in the Spanish-American War in 1898. The Cuban people were fighting for independence from Spain. The US government intervened in the conflict on the side of Cuba, expressly stating that it had no imperialist designs on the island.
It was a lie. As soon as Spain was defeated, US officials placed Cuba under the control of the US government and then forced Cuba to lease the property at Guantanamo Bay to the United States, in perpetuity.
At the end of World War II, US officials grafted a national-security state apparatus, consisting of a vast standing army and the CIA, onto the federal government. As President Eisenhower pointed out in his 1961 Farewell Address, this military-industrial complex was new to the United States’ constitutional form of government. It was a totalitarian-like structure, which may have been why Ike warned that it posed a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.
After 9/11, US officials announced that Guantanamo Bay was going to be used as a prison and “judicial” center as part of their “war on terrorism.” Why Cuba instead of the United States? National-security state officials made it clear that they wanted Gitmo to be a constitution-free zone — that is, a place where US officials could detain people for the rest of their lives, torture them, and even execute them after trial by kangaroo tribunal. They would not have to concern themselves with due process of law and other provisions in the US Constitution that they had sworn to uphold and defend.
Guantanamo Bay represents the perfect marriage of imperialism and the national-security state. It would be difficult to find a better example of a dark, oppressive, unjust place, even in communist countries like Cuba and North Korea.
Imperialism and the national-security state have brought nothing but damage and shame to our country. It is time to restore the founding principles of our nation by restoring a limited-government, constitutional republic to our land. It is time to end the United States’ embrace of imperialism and national-security statism.
There is no better place to begin than by returning Gitmo to Cuba.
Don’t Trade US Security for Nothing
By Alina Brouwer
General Raúl Castro’s latest statement has linked full normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States and further progress in negotiations to the unconditional return to Cuba of Guantanamo Bay — at present the home of a US naval base and detention center.
The closure of Guantanamo Bay, however, would be to the disadvantage of the United States.
The US libertarian stance on this issue has been in principle to return the territory back to Cuba, but other considerations remain. As Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has said, “I don’t know that I have a great answer, to tell you the truth … I have not come down on the position of closing Guantanamo Bay,” in contrast to his father, former Congressman Ron Paul.
With the disputed area under consideration, US Congressman David Jolly (R-FL) has filed a bill to prevent the transfer of the US-occupied territory over to the Cubans — read Raúl Castro — without congressional approval.
Jolly notes that “What is lost in the Cuba debate is our national security and intelligence interest 90 miles from the US coastline. There is little justification to hand over our naval asset and unilaterally disarm. This is merely common sense.”
Even President Obama’s administration has rejected Castro’s demand, since Obama believes “that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed down … but not the naval base.”
The US-occupied Cuban land of Guantanamo Bay has been a thorn in the side of US-Cuban relations since the establishment of the naval base in 1903. The arrangement was part of a larger treaty known as the Platt Amendment.
However, the US presence was not sinister. Ariel Pérez Lazo, a Cuban exile and college instructor, cites Ramiro Guerra (1880-1970), one of our most recognized historians: “The Platt Amendment was the coronation of the Monroe Doctrine; it was established to prevent Cuba from falling back into European hands and to guarantee respect for American lives and American plantations in Cuba.”
In this new era of US-Cuba relations, there is reason to believe that Raúl Castro is negotiating maliciously and not working towards a long-term partnership with the United States. Enjoying an air of legitimacy, he now demands the return of land contested for over a century.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with a nation of people asking for an occupied land to be returned, but we are not dealing with the Cuban people. President Obama may have changed his approach towards Castro, but Castro has not changed his approach towards the Cuban people. The bleeding of Cubans who want to escape Karl Marx and Ernesto Che Guevara’s paradise has increased since the new approach began on December 17, 2014.
A sincere conversation regarding the future of the land in dispute should be encouraged. The consequences, however, of returning Guantanamo Bay to Castro right now should make us ask ourselves, what is the United States negotiating here?
The change in approach between Obama and Castro has yet to mature. Castro has a lot he could concede, to build trust and convince US officials to start considering reciprocal concessions. Until that happens in a meaningful manner, a return of the US-occupied land would be unwise: a loss for the United States and no gain for the Cuban people.
Alina Brouwer is a UNHCR refugee, a political refugee of Spain, and a human and civil rights advocate. She works as a researcher, analyst, and adviser at Continental Democratic Protection Forum. Alina is also a composer and concert pianist with the National School of the Arts (ENA) and the Superior Institute of the Arts (ISA) in Cuba. Follow @BrouwerAlina.