At a Feb. 23 news conference President Barack Obama, in the name of offering “a plan” to close the notorious U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, in fact made clear he has no intention of shutting it.
“I’ve been working for seven years now to get this thing closed,” the president complained. He blamed the Republican majority in Congress for blocking him from carrying out his 2008 campaign pledge to close the prison during his very first year in the White House.
“If we don’t do what’s required now,” Obama said, “I think future generations are going to look back and ask why we failed to act.”
The president neglected to mention that during his first two years in office the Democratic Party had wide majorities both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Since January 2002, 780 alleged “enemy combatants” have been sent to Guantánamo, captured or kidnapped by U.S. allies often in exchange for a U.S. bounty.
Obama’s “plan” would still keep at least 56 of the 91 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo languishing in prisons in the United States, “subject to military commissions” or federal courts, he said.
Everything from the initial arrests, torture and the trampling on the most basic democratic rights of those held at the prison camp — along with the more than century-long violation of Cuban sovereignty — has made Guantánamo a symbol of U.S. imperialist arrogance, brutality and hypocrisy around the world.
The U.S. military has occupied the 28,000 acres of land that surround Guantánamo Bay since 1903. Washington has used the base to intervene in the affairs of Cuba, nearby Haiti and the Caribbean to protect capitalist interests.
Since working people, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and the July 26th Movement, overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, the U.S. Treasury has continued to send an annual rent check for $4,085, which the revolutionary government refuses to cash.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hailed Obama’s Feb. 23 statement. Neither said a word about returning Guantánamo to Cuba. Administration officials have repeatedly said they don’t intend to do so.
Republican candidate Donald Trump responded to Obama’s Feb. 23 statement by saying he would keep the prison open and “load it up with some bad dudes.” Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio each said shutting it down would lead to returning Guantánamo to Cuba.
“From the beginning the Socialist Workers Party has denounced the torture, beatings and humiliation the prisoners are subjected to in the name of ‘national security,’” Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy said Feb. 23. “The U.S. economic war against Cuba has failed to bring down the socialist revolution. Now the U.S. rulers hope to undermine it through other tactics.
“This is a good time to step up actions in support of the Cuban Revolution and demand the return of Guantánamo Bay to Cuba and the complete end of the U.S. embargo,” Kennedy said.
In an interview with Telesur TV network last November, Cuban government official Vidal explained that “even if at some moment the prison is closed, it would just be a partial solution from Cuba’s point of view. The most important thing is to close the entire installation and return this territory that remains occupied to Cuba.”
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