Friday, July 16, 2010
Anti-American Art: That's No Guantanamera That's a Prison Camp
"No a la Base Naval de Guantanamo / No to the Guantanamo Naval Base" cries this 1971 poster from Cuba's OSPAAAL. That scary big bird is back, this time sinking its talons in the eastern end of the island of Cuba.
It's one of great ironies that the U.S. has a military base and prison camp on the territory of its greatest local adversary, but Guantanamo was "leased" in perpetuity to the United States after the Spanish-American war in 1903. The current socialist government of Cuba wants the land back, not recognizing the sweetheart lease signed by the earlier pro-U.S. client state. President Obama promised to close the prison camp for "terrorists" that the Bush government opened up there, but after being stymied by bipartisan opposition, Obama doesn't talk too much about the prison any more and his failure to make good on that promise. Apparently both republicans and democrats in Congress like having a blatantly extra-legal place to dump foreigners they've accused of terrorism without having to prove anything. As heinous as Guantanamo is, it's certainly only one of a chain of heinous prisons operated by the United States, its military and its intelligence forces including Abu-Ghraib prison in Iraq, Baghram airforce base in Afghanistan, and various CIA "black sites" across the globe where alleged enemies can be held without anybody actually questioning these allegations. While it's not entirely Obama's fault that Guantanamo prison remains open, he didn't even promise to close the rest of these.
Guantanamo, of course, should be returned to the Cuban people. Ailing former leader Fidel Castro has called for its return recently: "Maintaining a military base in Cuba against the will of the people violates the most elemental principles of international law."