by Xinhua writer Chris Dalby

On the map, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base occupying only 45 square kilometers on the eastern coast of Cuba is not very impressive.

jailIt was ceded to the United States under the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903. The United States paid 2,000 U.S. dollars a year to Cuba for its use ever since.

Although the fee was raised to 4,085 U.S. dollars a year in 1938, the Cuban government has apparently cashed nothing on the checks since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

Guantanamo Bay later became the eye of the maelstrom engulfing Cuba-U.S. relations.

The Cuban leadership said the United States has threatened Cuba with nuclear bombing if the country interfered with the base, which it said was a cover for American weapon smuggling to Cuban rebels and has been used as a staging ground to prepare actions against its government.

For a long time, the United States dismissed these concerns and developed Guantanamo as it saw fit. U.S. President Barack Obama declared ahead of his election he would like to close it, primarily due to its emblematic status as representing the worst abuses of the war on terror.

Guantanamo is not merely a prison. Even if Guantanamo Prison is closed, Washington has been steadfast in its refusal to give back the entire Guantanamo Naval Base to the Cuban government.

As relations with Cuba began to thaw early this year, the White House stated that Obama “does believe that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed down … but not the naval base.”

This was a message the United States reiterated ahead of Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Cuba this week, as the State Department stated any discussion about Guantanamo was off the table.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez announced on Friday that the two countries had agreed to create a commission to discuss pressing issues, “including some that have remained without a solution during more than 50 years.”

This is a significant step, but as much as this committee may make progress on the trade embargo, immigration, and people smuggling, there has simply been no indication that the U.S. government has any desire to budge on the issue of the base.

While numerous countries have called the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba illegal, international pressure to shut down the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is far from enough.

Cuba has called for the invalidation of the 1903 treaty, arguing it violates Article 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which outlaws any treaty signed with the use of force.
However, the case cited by Cuba is not strong enough as the Vienna Convention, which was signed in 1969, is not retroactive.

Some hope that the United States will be more amenable to returning the base once the prison closes. However, it looks as if this won’t happen anytime soon.

U.S. senators have raised a ruckus about inmates being relocated in the country, and American allies are less and less willing to take in prisoners they had no hand in capturing.

As stated by the Cuban leader Raul Castro, without the end of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, relations with the United States can never be fully normalized. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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