On behalf of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples thanks the World Peace Council and the United States Coalition against Foreign Military Bases for the invitation to take part in this online conference, on the occasion last February 23 of the International Action Day against the Military Bases of the United States and NATO, declared at the First International Conference against the Military Bases of the United States and NATO held in Dublin, Ireland, in November, 2018.
The bases or military enclaves – the term they currently use – are a permanent threat to world peace, to the sovereignty and to the self-determination of the peoples, and it is from there that continuous acts of harassment and military aggressions are promoted against those governments that do not yield to the demands of the U.S. administrations.
For Cuba this date has a historical significance: it marks 118 years of the illegal occupation of the Guantánamo Naval Base, the oldest military enclave of the United States beyond its frontiers and the only one that exists against the will of the country where it is located and of its people.
The Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay was established in 1898, when the United States militarily occupied the island following the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War. The Agreement for the Lease of Coal and Naval Stations between the Government of the United States and the Government of Cuba was signed on February 23, 1903, in circumstances in which the island had practically no independence after the imposition of the Platt Amendment, passed by the Congress of the United States.
Since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, Cuba has not accepted the imposition of this treaty, demanding in all multilateral forums the return of the illegally occupied territory, which has been a permanent center for threats, provocations, and violation of our sovereignty.
The presence of this base impacts on the local socio-economic development, since it prevents the adequate exploitation of all its natural resources and the studies of ecosystems in land and marine zones located in the bordering zone. Also, the constructions in that military zone hinder the draining of the basin formed by the rivers Guantánamo and Guaso.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, this Naval Base was turned into a prison for the alleged terrorists. The United States have used it for illegal purposes as CONCENTRATION camp, prison, and a place for tortures, humiliation and discrimination. With these actions they violate the most elementary rights of the human species, the right to life and human dignity, as well as the civil and political rights because the prisoners do not have access to justice and are arbitrarily sentenced without trial to unlimited prison terms and inconceivable tortures in full 21st century, abusing of the modern doctrine of the Enemy’s Penal Law.
They do not respect the International Humanitarian Law, which in Agreement III protects war prisoners. Logically, the Empire does not recognize them as war prisoners in order to prevent them from receiving the rights established in the Agreement, and instead illegally calls them ILLEGAL COMBATANTS, a term that is not recognized by the International Humanitarian Law.
For that reason and until the occupied territory is not returned to Cuba, the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples, together with the World Peace Council and other organizations will continue organizing the International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases every two years in the province of Guantánamo. This forum has become a space of denounce and world condemnation against imperialism.
In these difficult times when humankind has been waging a constant fight against the consequences of COVID 19, the U.S. imperialism has not ceased its attacks, with the consequence of damaging the control and containment of the pandemic.
Latin America and the Caribbean are considered by the United States to be their backyard; that is why we reiterate the need to fulfill the postulates of the Proclaim of Latin America and the Caribbean as Zone of Peace approved at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in January, 2014.
Cuba will not cease in its struggle for the return of the territory occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, nor will it cease to demand the lifting of the criminal economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed upon our country more than 60 years ago, which affects the economic and social development of our people.
We convoke you to continue performing actions against the expansion of military bases throughout the planet, from which the empire launches its aggressions and has maintained its active threat against the peoples.
There is no better way to end this conference than to recall the world of Commander Fidel Castro on July 26, 1962:
“The U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay is a dagger stuck in the heart of the Cuban land… … a base we will not take away from them using force, but a piece of land to which we will never renounce.”