Guantanamo Bay Base: Give It Up


The U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, on the island of Cuba, has been operated illegally, against the wishes of the Cuban government for 114 years, and it should now be torn down, and the port should be returned to the Cuban people.

As far back as 1854, the U.S. has made frivolous claims to Cuba. When Franklin Pierce (1853-57) was President, future President James Buchanan, a member of his administration, issued the Ostend Manifesto, which claimed the U.S. had a right to seize the island by force, if Spain refused to sell it. Buchanan was afraid a slave rebellion would turn the island into a disorderly republic, like Haiti, but his real motive was to create another slave state.

After a revolt broke out in 1895 between the Cubans and colonial Spain, the Maine, an American ship, was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898, and though there was no proof the explosion was caused by the Spanish, the U.S. invaded, and won the Spanish-American War.

When the Americans first occupied the island, they were greeted as liberators, but the mood soon changed, as the newly liberated people were forced, under the Platt Amendment (1901), to give the U.S. a right to intervene in their internal affairs. Although President Theodore Roosevelt granted independence, under the Cuban-American Treaty (1903), the catch was they had to give the U.S. a perpetual lease to Guantanamo Bay.

A generation later, President Franklin Roosevelt offered to annul the right to intervene, provided the Cubans signed the Treaty between the U.S. and Cuba (1934), which allowed the unwelcome U.S. military presence at Guantanamo to continue. Realizing they would never get a better deal from a conservative American President, the Cubans accepted a half a loaf from liberal FDR, instead of nothing at all.

The Cubans have since continued to protest the American military presence on the island. When Fidel Castro took over in 1959, he escalated the objection by shutting off the water to the American base, in an attempt to get the U.S. to go home, but the U.S. Navy started filtering seawater through a desalination plant in 1964. To this day, Cuba does not cash rental checks from the U.S.

The U.S. has no legitimate right to use the Guantanamo Bay Navy Base, as the lease was forced upon Cuba under what international law would refer to as an unequal treaty. Since President Obama promised to close Guantanamo, now would be the perfect time to give the port back.

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