Saturday, November 30, 2013

Obama’s unfulfilled Gitmo promise

Five years after his election, the U.S. President has not closed the prison on the illegally held Guantánamo Naval Base

By Manuel E. Yepe

THE failure to fulfill electoral promises made by candidates who win U.S. presidential elections is not news. In fact, this is corroborated by the corporate press in that nation.
However, in the case of current President Barack Obama – whose triumph had much to do with the relatively daring promises which allowed him to overcome the odds against him, given his ethnic and social origins and age, among other aspects – his failure to meet his promises has placed him in a position which could prove damaging to the Democratic Party in the 2016 elections.
One glaringly evident case little mentioned in the media is that, during his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama described the case of Gitmo (as the illegally naval base is identified in the United States) as “a sad chapter in American history,” and promised that, if he were to be elected, the base would closed in 2009.
Shortly after his election, the new president reiterated his promise to close the base in an ABC television interview.
However, in November 2009, Obama was forced to acknowledge that it was not possible to set a specific date for the closure, while announcing that it would most likely occur at some undetermined point in 2009.
On December 15, 2009, a presidential memorandum issued by Obama ordered the closing of the prison camp and the transfer of the detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. Shortly afterward, in a letter to Congressman Frank Wolf, who was making every effort to avoid the transfer of the Guantánamo detainees to Thomson, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that such a move would violate legal prohibitions which he was determined to uphold.
And thus this vacillation has continued to date, in a clear demonstration of the President’s unwillingness to confront the issue, despite popular will as expressed in the elections.
It should be noted that there has been no media reference in recent history to the fact that the base’s very existence is indefensible and that a genuine solution must include, as a principal step, the return to Cuba of this occupied territory.
During a workshop with Cuban experts on the 110-year occupation of Guantánamo by the United States, which took place recently in Havana, Jonathan Hansen, associate professor at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, affirmed that few in the United States acknowledge that the base must be returned to Cuba, and that the problem is how to make this matter an issue for discussion.
The United States occupies this portion of Cuban territory in virtue of an unjust agreement of indefinite duration imposed on Cuba in February 1903, as one of the addendums to the Platt Amendment, introduced as an appendix to the Constitution of the nascent Cuban Republic through pressure from Washington.
Sooner or later, Guantánamo must disappear and this ignominious enclave will remain as one more sad page in the history of U.S. imperialism.
November 28, 2013