THE GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE
The Guantanamo Naval Base of 117.6 square kilometers has been occupied since 1903 by the United States, against the will of the Cuban people. Its creation was the result of a coaling station leased signed by Tomas Estrada Palma’s government with the United States, in 1903. It continues to be a source of tension between the two countries and has been used for a variety of aggressive purposes. During the last part of the 20th century it served as a detention center for Cubans and Haitians intercepted at sea, and after 2001, for prisoners of the alleged war on terrorism.
THE U.S. OCCUPATION OF GUANTANAMO IS ILLEGAL
1. The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, in Article 52, describes as null any agreement made under the threat of force or its use, just as occurred in the case of Guantanamo.
2. Moreover, the lease of Cuban land and waters by the United States government to establish the naval base in Guantánamo, according to the 1903 treaty and its replacement signed in 1934, was for as long a period of time as the U.S. deemed necessary. But no lease can be valid without an ending date established, since it is legally absurd that a proprietor cannot reclaim a property at some point.
3. On March 5, 1959, the Cuban government demanded that Washington end its occupation in Guantanamo, but the U.S. continues to control the area. Originally the rent was established as 2,000 dollars a year in gold, but as time went on, the U.S. decided to pay $4,085 by check deposited in a Swiss bank.
4. Since then, Cuba has never cashed these checks, refusing to recognize the legality of the occupation.
5. The lease specifies that the area rented is to be exclusively used as a coaling station, but the U.S. Navy has used the Guantanamo base for whatever purpose it sees fit.
GUANTÁNAMO IN FIGURES
– Of the base’s 117.6 square kilometers, only 49.4 of firm ground is occupied, the rest being the bay’s waters, along 17.5 kilometers of coastline.
– Through 2008, some 800 prisoners from 42 countries were detained at the base, the majority from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
– Currently the U.S. is holding more than 140 prisoners at the base.
– In 2013, President Obama requested 450 million dollars from Congress for maintenance and repair at the prison, and more than 200 million to improve temporary facilities.
* Information shared at Cuba-Dominican Republic Pedagogical Conference held in Guantanamo
By Professor Guillermo Paumier Labacena Via Granma International
In his opinion, the base imposes a different type of conduct on individuals who find themselves affected by the presence of the base. Special legal regulations exist that make people feel uncomfortable in their own environment and oblige them live differently.
The Guantanamo native mentioned restrictions on movement throughout the area, and a prohibited zone closed off with a two-meter high, triple fence of 15 to 18 strands of barbed wire and other materials. No Cuban from another province can freely visit the area without first requesting permission from authorities.
“In the military ranges, they conduct exercises with combat aircraft and mechanized equipment that break the sound barrier and cause deafening noises. As a consequence, there are a number of people who suffer hearing problems, or associated illnesses like headaches, stomachaches, and dizziness, plus psychological problems caused by stress,” Paumier reported.
Continue reading A close look at the Guantanamo Naval Base – “As a resident of the municipality of Caimanera, I can talk about the negative impacts of having a U.S. military base located in Guantanamo’s territory against the will of our people”