President Barack Obama should take immediate steps to return the US naval base at Guantanamo to the people of Cuba without pre-conditions.
Cubans have on numerous occasions demanded that the US dismantle its military base on their homeland which has been there for 106 years. It was established following the Spanish-American War of 1898 and is a direct consequence of colonialism. The terms of the treaty governing the base and its usage are so lopsided that the Cuban people have no choice but to put up with the base ad infinitum --- unless the US government decides to relinquish its control over Guantanamo.
If Obama is sincere about dealing with other states on the basis of mutual respect, he should begin by changing US attitude towards its little neighbor which since the Cuban Revolution of 1959 has been characterized by insufferable arrogance and insolence that has no parallel in the modern world. Apart from perpetuating an edifice of colonial occupation in Guantanamo, successive US Presidents in the last 50 years have subjected Cuba to every conceivable injustice. A suffocating trade embargo against the island has been in place for 46 years. Cuba has been invaded with the active collaboration of the US; terrorist attacks have been conducted on Cuban soil by groups and individuals affiliated to the CIA; a Cuban civilian aircraft carrying children among other passengers was destroyed with the connivance of the US; Cubans languish in US jails on trumped up charges; and numerous attempts have been made by agents linked to US buttressed networks to assassinate Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution.
In a nutshell, US Administrations in the past have not shown an iota of respect for the independence and sovereignty of the 11.4 million Cuban people. It is the Cuban people’s desire to be independent and their refusal to submit to US hegemony that has provoked the wrath of US Administrations. Obama should demonstrate through deeds that he respects those who seek to protect their independence and integrity. That is the change that we would like to see in US foreign policy under his presidency.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
February 2, 2009.