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here is what Castro has to say about US's Guantanamo Bay C Camp

Here is reposting that informs USa what Castro has to say about the US's Concentration
Camp at Guantanamo Bay. About 20 years ago, I happened to actually meet Castro as
his plane refueled at little Caribbean International Airport I happened to be working at at the
time (for the "you know who" folk's...in preparation for US's invasion of Grenada) and it at
same time developed technical difficulties and the passenger's had to deplane and use
the airport's VIP lounge (which I had the key's for/responsibility for upkeep) while waiting
on repairs to be completed. He was the perfect gentleman, and though he knew I was
an American, he still was most cordial, charming, witty, and just what you'd expect from
a good Jesuit. I liked him, trusted him, and have since studied the man, his Revolution,
and the true nature of WHAT they sought to accomplish, and I'm impressed...it's NOT at
all what's been told in our government/KorpAmerika media. So, when this man speaks,
I listen to what he has to say...so should YOU too!

Friday 26 December 2003, 22:43 Makka Time, 19:43 GMT
Castro insists the Guantanamo base is illegally occupied

Cuba has charged the United States with running a concentration camp at the Guantanamo base on the eastern tip of the island.

This is the Cuban government's first attack on the use of the facility to hold men Washington has seized in its "war on terror".

"In the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base, hundreds of foreign prisoners are subjected to indescribable abuses," said a statement passed by parliament earlier this week and broadcast by the state-run media in Havana on Friday.

Communist-run Cuba's National Assembly said prisoners were isolated and denied the right to communicate with their families or to prepare an adequate defence.


"Some of the few freed have spoken of the horrors of this concentration camp," said the statement, appealing to lawmakers throughout the Americas to halt US human rights violations.

President Fidel Castro's government surprised observers when after the 11 September attacks it offered logistical support to Washington as it transformed the base at Guantanamo into a prison for suspected Taliban soldiers from Afghanistan.

"Some of the few freed have spoken of the horrors of this concentration camp"

Cuban Parliament

Since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay has been a flashpoint of hostilities between the two countries.

Castro insists the area is illegally occupied by the US which leases it under a pre-revolution agreement.

The Cuban president refuses to cash US checks for use of the base, which he keeps in a desk drawer to show visitors and reporters.

To date Havana has refrained from criticising Washington's use of the naval base even as international unease with conditions there mounts.

The US has kept more than 600 people from several countries captive for nearly two years at Guantanamo following the undeclared war against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and al-Qaida.

Earlier in December, a US appeals court ruled that they cannot be held indefinitely and cannot be denied lawyers.
Huh? 27.Dec.2003 20:48

Dr. E

Who gives a fuck what that commie bastard has to say about anything . . . . . .

see that you don't know, Doctor E, that Communism collapsed in 1990 27.Dec.2003 21:43

no longer our enemy

Since we're into "enemy of the month", as in ice cream flavors of the month, didn't you know that the
"commies" are no longer our enemy? We kissed and made up with Gorby and Boris, and went on
in search of new ones. Which, by the way, we've got a number of 'em right now, and the list is seem-
ingly getting longer. Can you name any of our "new enemies"? Contrary to your assertions, Castro
is a very important person, especially to many in this world, as he has somehow managed to stay
alive all these years, in spite of CIA attempt's to off him a number of times (exploding cigars, and
defective scuba tanks come to mind as failed farcical attempts), has lead a country with the highest
per capita number of medical doctors in the world, has one of the few countries in the Western Hem-isphere with an essentially free medical delivery system to ALL people's there, and it's people do
enjoy one of the highest food intake standards of living anywhere in the world, and he has done all
this like a little David standing up a mighty Goliath. So, seemingly, he's got more than mere bullshit
going for him. Hence, his words are deemed "very important" by a large number of this planet's in-
habitants. Whether or not, he enjoys your's, I think is of little concern to him or the rest of Cuba!
Perhaps, rather than being jerk-kneed snide about it, one could expand their minds by being open-
minded and give fair consideration to what the man says...that is, if one is really intent in being a
fair-minded American. Rightwing nutters need not attempt such, as it would be asking too much!

ehh 27.Dec.2003 21:48

hugo pants

i'm not sure whether that last post is sarcasm or not, but please... regardless of what you think of his regime, Castro is no idiot. listen to him speak (without teleprompters and training by a team of govt-media functionaries), and then listen to george w bush fail miserably trying to deliver a one-sentence, speechwriter-authored, rehearsed soundbite. plus, i kinda like his beard.

from the onion 27.Dec.2003 21:52

the onion

classic stuff from the Onion:

Communists Now Least Threatening Group In U.S.
WASHINGTON, DC—According to a report released Tuesday by the Pentagon, Communists rank last on a list of 238 threats to national security. "Communists may now safely be ignored," Secretary of Defense William Cohen said. "The Red Menace has been surpassed by militia groups, religious extremists, ecoterrorists, cybercriminals, Hollywood producers, and angry drivers." Other groups deemed more threatening than Communists include rap-metal bands (#96), escaped zoo animals (#202), and Belgians (#237).

what happened to "Dr. E"'s lead off comment? 27.Dec.2003 23:05

no longer our enemy

So, what happened to Dr. E's lead off comment? Did it go to the Compost pile? Sure wished you'd
leave it up, as it brings my comment in response in better context. Thanks, if you can retrieve it, and
repost it as the lead off comment.

The Spanish are back, but this time they're us! 28.Dec.2003 00:26

Major W

I don't know what the first comment was referring to. I have to say, it left me quite rattled. I like to read people's comments and then sometimes put my own comment here, but I only like to read other comments that make sense, so please try to make sense.

If you read Chomsky at all, you know that America has longed to own Cuba since Revolutionary times. I think John Adams said that it was of transcendent importance that we take control of the island. Why that didn't happen after the Spanish-American war I'm not too clear on, but I think what happened was that the US just installed a friendly kind of puppet regime and left it at that, meanwhile turning attention to the Phillipines which we also took from Spain. So for almost 60 years there remained an American friendly right wing junta in control, and if that was the case, no need to conquer it and teach them a lesson.

For the last 45 years there's been an economic stranglehold on the island, and yet miraculously it has survived. There's been an invasion, assasination attempts, and such as that. I don't know what else, but it all adds up to one thing. If the latest war in Iraq is any indicator, what Cuba can expect as the next step after crippling sanctions and other kinds of illegal aggression, is an invasion. Since it's so close to home though, it probably won't be a military invasion. Yet, after Iraq anything is possible. A year and a half ago, the "Invasion of Iraq" sounded like a sci-fi movie. I guess I knew after the Axis of Evil speech that there was a pretty good chance, but sometimes you refuse to trust your best instincts.

Why does it seem unlikely the US would invade Cuba militarily? It seems too much like a joke. And yes, I know, there's Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua (which definitely wasn't a joke) and ad nauseam, not to mention two Iraq wars. We've been punishing small, weak countries for decades, why not a full-fledged attack on Cuba? The scary thing is, this is probably written in a State Department memo somewhere. But Cuba is too close, there could never be a good enough lie cooked up to justify an invasion, everybody already hates us for what we did to Iraq, resistance would not be just from Cubans but probably international, I mean military resistance. Those are some of the reasons I think the US won't invade Cuba militarily.

So what would the invasion look like? Well, it would be the slow, cancer-like Los Angelesation of the island. You know, Starbucks & McDonald's on every corner, the "opening-up" of Havana to intn'l business & trade & tourism, exploitation of the people on so many different levels, a socio-corporate colony, if you will. There is about 8 or 9 million people in Cuba, and it's a big, beautiful island with alot of natural resources like sugar, bananas, parrots & sand. Enough to make the average war planner or corporate tycoon have an hour long orgasm.

In order for the US to dominate the island in this way would require the CIA and other intel agencies to secretly groom a few top-level Cuban bureaucrats or generals to be more pro-American, and to influence others in their circle. This task will be immensely easier after Castro dies, as he does seem to have a hypnotic spell on the people. But maybe his successor will resist. Also, there are the Cuban exiles in Florida which the intel agencies have always worked closely with, and which are given alot of leeway when it comes to organizing resistance to Castro, so much so that one might say there are anti-Castro terror cells in South Florida. Now, when speaking about Cuban exiles, one may fall into a trap of racial stereotyping, and that must be avoided at all costs. I surely can't speak for Cuban-Americans, as to what their true desires are, or what life in Cuba was like for them. I only know that my country attacks small, near-defenseless countries, for fake reasons, and then sorts out the consequences later. I would hate to see that happen to Cuba, whether it was a military attack or a socio-corporate attack.

I don't know. Does anyone think Bush is crazy enough to go after Cuba? If I was Cuba, and Bush got elected to a second term, I would probably try and move to Europe. But nowhere would be far enough.

As to the Guantanemo situation....

Let me think. The war on terror, al-Quaeda, Taliban, men from all corners of the Arab world, intn'l outcry, illegal under any circumstances. Ah yes, the detaining of illegal combatant non-persons on Cuban soil. What else can be said about it? It's interesting, because Cuba may become incorporated into the war on terror, making the whole island illegal combatants.

replying to Major W's initial paragraph...about "making sense" 28.Dec.2003 01:42

no longer our enemy

when I first noticed this lead comment, I naturally clicked to read it; and the very first comment was a
brief two-line comment by a "Dr. E" that said, and I shall paraphase..."...so who cares what a commie
bastard like Castro has to say?..."; and I merely clicked on to add commentary and as lead in, respond
to "Dr. E" and his/her snide buzz-off aside. After I'd finished and sent the message of mine in, I there-
after some 10 or so minutes later checked back to be assured mine had made it (have experienced a
bit of difficulty of late in getting messages in...perhaps it's "technical difficulities"??) and, yes it had...
but, I duly noted that Dr. E's initial posting had been removed...why, I don't know. Perhaps, someone
saw fit to compost it, or someone else "out there" decided to remove it. I just don't know...but, I do
know it was there to begin with. Hope this "makes sense" as you seem to require. If not, then take
it up with the "management"! Thanks!

hiding, etc 28.Dec.2003 02:04


I have put Dr evil's comment back on the comment list. It may take awhile to show up. I did this because so many people responded to it that nobody's comments made any sense without it as a context for their arguments. I hid the comment in the first place because it was mindless and inflammatory. In the past, mindless, inflammatory comments have tended to take focus away from the points of the articles themselves, and have led to diversions of topic. When someone posts an article, the comment section should be a discussion of the topic that the original author is bringing up. If well-meaning people tend to stray off-topic, then that's ok, but when some jerk comes along and makes an inflammatory remark that hijacks the entire discussion, then that is not ok, and those posts are usually hidden to preserve the continuity of the original discussion. Dr Evil's comment on this article is a classic example of that. The article itself is (seemingly) a personal testimonial of someone who has something to say about Guantanimo bay. The commentor, Dr. Evil, in one fell swoop, has hijacked the topic from whether or not it's ok for the us to hijack land from a sovereign nation to an argument on the pros and cons of Castro's version of "communism". Dr Evil didn't even have to make a comprehensible point to do this, either. All she/he said was basically "who cares what some commie bastard thinks". Now, we have an ongoing discussion that stems from one inflammatory remark and has not much to do with the article itself. Hope you're happy; this won't be happening again, and the next time I personally hide a comment of this nature I will cite this article as my reason for hiding troll-provided BS.

I too strayed off topic 28.Dec.2003 15:33

Major W

In the piece I wrote yesterday, above, I believe I took a course that strayed off the topic of Guantanamo Bay, and then tried to make up for with a few lines at the end, after realizing that I had done it in the first place. This might have confused some people, and it also may have taken away the momentum for dealing with the subject at hand--namely the illegal detention of hundreds of Arab men at Guantanamo Bay, as prisoners in the war on terror, and the new Cuban reaction to it. So I will try to address that issue, and also try to put it in the context of what my previous article was mostly about--US designs on Cuba.

First of all, I was very surprised to learn that Castro initially assisted the US with the Camp X project. I'm sure the assistance was very limited, but you would think Castro would have immediately criticized Bush for doing that, and not wait until just recently. For the Bush admin., putting an illegal concentration camp on Cuban territory serves a few purposes. It humiliates Cuba and Castro, because there's nothing they or he can do about it, it releases the US from having to follow any given country's justice system, and it totally violates and therefore discredits international law.

Why would the US want to humiliate Castro? Well, for one thing we've been waging a shadow war against Cuba for so long, yet he remains in power and Cuban society is still able to function. That is humiliating to the State Department and Pentagon. So holding the prisoners at Guantanamo is a good payback.

The US seized Guantanamo I believe in the Spanish-American war. Since Castro has been in power, The US has leased the island without the permission of Castro for something like $10K a year (I'm not sure the exact amount) and Castro refuses to cash those checks that the US sends him. That's another good way that we're humiliating Cuba.

So, to tie in my previous article with Camp X, I think the US is merely taking baby steps toward the goal of annexing Cuba, and Guantanamo Bay is a good stepping stone for them to use. Also, they are surely looking forward to Castro's death, which is not too far off, at which time they can see what happens and decide how to best take control of the island, either militarily or just in the socio-corporate sense.

Fidel 28.Dec.2003 19:52


In the world of evil despots, totalitarian regimes, cruel dictatorships and the current leaders of "democratic" nations (Israel and the US), Fidel is certainly NOT on the A list. The US wants, like it does in the middle east, a leader sympathetic to its needs. So, we were happy with Fidel's predecessor, the corrupt Battista. Castro, first off, is not a Communist, and despite widespread poverty, there is little, or no, abject poverty. Cubans also enjoy a decent, functioning educational system. Get over it, there are so many corrupt, evil governments to despise around the world THAT THE US SUPPORTS AND TRADES WITH< yet Cuba gets the brunt of the criticism. Look beyond the rhetoric.

What? 28.Dec.2003 23:08

Dr. E

Somebody please tell me why there are not throngs of people fighting and clawing and building boats to get into Fidel's "Socialist Paradise".

I've never, ever heard of anyone trying to sneak into Cuba . . . . .but a whole lot of Cubans are daily trying to get out of Cuba . . . .

in answer to Dr. E's WHAT?, I shall take up the challenge to reply 29.Dec.2003 01:21


I see that Dr. E has nicely posed a few questions this time, rather than snide caustic retort that began this thread, and so
shall take up the challenge to answer his inquiry in as brief a manner as possible. First of all, I see your first question is
..."why there are not throngs of people fighting and clawing and building boats to get into Fidel's "socialist Paradise."..???

Well, my dear sir, I'm surpised that an esteemed person with such highly regarded doctorate--as you've indicated yourself
as having--would be so ethnocentric as not to know that it is totally unnecessary for anyone to have to "fight" or "claw" their
way to get to Cuba, nor certainly not have to individually craft one-voyage boats to get there. Come on, let us be real! You
may indeed be surprised to learn that there are quite a number of airlines that service Cuba from a wide-assortment of
places. For instance, comes to mind that a large number of flights originate from Canada, Europe, Central America, South
America, and Africa, along with a few from Asia and the Orient. Given that these are certainly most civilized of peoples, it
is unnecessary for them to "fight" or "claw" their way on these rather ordinary of airplanes...they merely walk aboard as do
we here in America walk aboard our airplanes...same-same!

Perhaps it is that you're confusing the fact that not too many American's go there, nor did in the past as it was legally for-
bidden for them to do so. Given that the American's barely make up a mere 5% of the world's population, that left roughly
95+% of the world free to go there, as indeed many did. In fact, any enterprising American, if they really wanted to, could
get themselves there, as I did myself some 25 years ago. Simple: didn't travel with an American tourist passport as
it's forbidden to use in travel to Cuba and a few other places...just travel with another country' passport. I went there for
an international conference, was welcomed, treated exceptionally well, had a great time, made friends, and enjoyed my
brief visit...why sholuld I not have? I saw absolutely nothing at that time that would indicate there was mass unemploy-
ment, mass impoverishment, and all seemed well feed and very healthy, fit, and happy. There was NOT the extremes
seen here in McKorpAmerika in wealth...dire poverty at one end and ostentaious excess of wealth at the other, as there
was a more egalitarian quality in which the countries wealth was more equitably shared by the maximum numbers of
people that was possible, under the circumstances....while it would be hard to characterize it as "paradise" in the same
sense as say, "paradise of the Garden of Eden" say, but it diffiently was indeed very much "socialist"! Is anything wrong
with that? To sum up>>>no, there is no need to "fight", "claw", or "build little 1-way throw-away boats" to get to Cuba, as
one could book travel on most any airline in the world to get there!

Your next question>>>>"I've never, ever heard of anyone trying to sneak into Cuba..." and quite likely you never would, as
per above, there simply isn't a need to even try to sneak in, so such questioning is somewhat childishly irrelevant. And,
going on, you end the question with>>>"lot of Cubans are daily trying to get out of Cuba." and, all I can remind you is the
fact that yes, such has been told by various government functionaries, media lackey's, and whatnot over the years...but,
that certainly doesn't make such true, does it? As for relying on "government says", might you remind you that just this
past year, our very own government told us that there was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam was
our modern-day Hitler with horrific threat to our nation...and all this, by a small country with a population somewhat less
than 10% of our own, no navy, no airforce, an army approximately 30% size of ours, and a defense expenditure annually
about 6% of ours...and we were suppose to believe this was a "serious threat". Well, as you know, some did and still
do...but, some don't, and for good reasons. Wonder what it is that sets these peoples apart? Have any idea?

I trust this has adequately answered your questions, and should you have more, please do so inquire again.

MERLIN... 29.Dec.2003 08:16


...you are indeed providing a civil and intelligent response to Dr. E. Very well explained. I know many individuals who have traveled to Cuba, via special programs or through Canada. They were not restricted in any way, shape or form. They came back very delighted. No, people are not flocking to move to Cuba. Not enough grand hotels, McDonalds, supersized resorts, not so touristy. They'd rather go to Cancun. Stop believing everything that the conservative talking heads and even neo-liberals are saying about Cuba. They are the least of all threats on this planet.

as I a thinking person, I'm never ceased to be amazed by 30.Dec.2003 06:24

people like Dr. E

as a thinking person, I'm never ceased to be amazed by people like Dr. E, who seemingly believe
nearly everything their American Government--teamed with American mainstream media--tell them.
Whether it be drivel drooling bullshit, mere infotainment, and a sliver of truth mixed in for a good
measure...it's ALL believed, much like hungry children eating Pablum and not getting enough of it
at that!

It's like they are totally oblivious to such things as: LBJ's lies to get America into Viet Nam war, then
Nixon's "secret plan" to disengage from the war (and won the election in 1968 largely based on the
"secret plan"...talk about an "informed electorate"...does it get any worst?), then Nixon's unending
saga over Watergate, then his 1st Veep resigning for failure to pay taxes on bribes taken, then not
long afterward, Nixon assuring the American people that he was "not a crook" to be later himself
resigning, then a blessedly brief presidency with a bungler-in-chief who's major economic thrust
was WIN-buttons to fight mounting inflation, then a Veep who said "read my lips" and once in the
Oval Office took back his words that largely won him the seat in first place, then the largely benign
"I did not have sex with that woman...", then "..we have discovered weapons of mass destruction..",
and on and on it goes...near unending lies coming forth from behind the curtain to shield what the
little men behind are really doing!

Most astonishingly>>>the majority of American's seemingly continue to believe them and aren't all
that interested in what's behind the curtain, nor what "they" are doing. While many love to wave the
flag, sing GOD BLESS AMERICA, belt out horrendous chorus of the National Anthem to drap them-
selves in the garb of "super" Patriotism; they've seemingly become as "little children" in their blind
acceptance of the television-reality beamed to them daily, uncomprehending the fact that it's largely
a "constructed" reality with a purpose, known larger only by the little men behind the curtain everyone
seemingly is unwilling to peek behind to see what's happening.

To a thinking person, this state of affairs begs the question>>>is this really "patriotism" or childish
stupidity? I, for one, am left exasperated at times with my fellow American's...seemingly the larger
majority, if we're to really believe the polls...and am haunted daily by these words said by the great
Frenchman, Voltaire some 200+ years ago during a similarly "strange era": "Many are destined to
reason wrongly, others; not to reason at all; and others, to persecute those who do reason." and
am left to wonder if I'll see it become a crime in my lifetime for people who actually do use their
reasoning abilities? Strange times we live in, are they not? Wake up folk's, come out of the daze
and reclaim your abilities to reason, or it'll become like unused leave policy of most McKorp's of to-
day...use it or lose it, for once it's lost you become a slave to the little men behind the curtain you so
refuse to seek what's behind. Is this the way men really live? Is this the way you want to live?

since this started out to be about "Guantanamo", then let's get... 01.Jan.2004 04:31

back on track

we repost, you decide


The Many Faces of Guantanamo
by Alfred de Zayas

Guantánamo has many faces. For some it conjures the "Guantanamera" guajira (peasant woman), sung to the verses of the leader of the Cuban war of independence of 1895, the lawyer and poet Jose Martí. To others it is the tropical sugar-mill town of some 200,000 inhabitants in the easternmost province of Cuba. To most Americans "Gtmo" only means the Bay and the naval base on it, the oldest outside of the United States, which was occupied by the US during the Spanish-American war of 1898 and subsequently leased by the US from Cuba pursuant to a 1903 lease agreement. One of Cuba's best ports, Gtmo occupies an area of 117.6 square kilometres (larger than Manhattan Island) for which the United States used to pay an annuity of $2,000 (increased to $4,085 in 1934). Cuba, however, does not cash the annuity checks and instead has repeatedly asked the United States since 1959 to dismantle the base and leave, since the lease had been imposed by force, and such arrangements are deemed invalid under modern international law. For Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Guantánamo means the "legal black hole" for 660 internees from 42 nations, some of them Taliban fighters, suspected terrorists and other persons captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia and other countries and flown to Cuba, thousands of miles away, for internment in Camp X (now Camp Delta) nearly two years ago. For the British senior Justice Lord Johan Steyn, Guantanamo entails "a monstrous failure of justice."

Legal Status of the Detainees

As to the legal status of the detainees, the International Committee of the Red Cross observes that essentially they "have been placed beyond the law." But is there such a thing as a "legal black hole"? I submit that there is not. As a corollary to Baruch Spinoza's postulate that "nature abhors a vacuum," I would submit that law abhors black holes.

In the case of Guantánamo, there are three legal regimes that apply, but are being violated by the U.S. with impunity:

1. The international human rights regime. The United States is bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by the Convention Against Torture, both of which require protection of all persons "within the jurisdiction" of a State party, notwithstanding whether they are citizens or whether they are formally within the sovereign territory of the State. The U.S. has made no relevant reservations or derogations. Thus, the detainees have many rights under international law, including the right to challenge their detention, access to legal counsel, due process of law and humane treatment. The international human rights regime applies both in times of war and in times of peace.
2. The international humanitarian law regime. Most of the internees qualify as prisoners of war under article 4 of the Third Geneva Red Cross Convention of 1949. Article 5 further stipulates that if there is doubt about their status, "such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." Neither President Bush nor Secretary Rumsfeld is competent under the Convention to make a determination of prisoner of war status. In addition to the human rights outlined above, the Geneva Convention as lex specialis stipulates special POW rights, including the right to release and repatriation at the close of hostilities (article 118). Civilians who were detained during the war in Afghanistan have rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
3. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights also apply, since neither instrument restricts its scope of application to territories formally under US sovereignty, excluding e.g. military bases abroad. Indeed, the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York extended the protection of the Bill of Rights to the Haitian refugees interned in Guantánamo in the 1990's (Haitian Ctrs. Council v. Sale). The Bush Administration, however, refuses to apply the Bill of Rights to the current Guantánamo detainees, relying on the obsolete 1950 Supreme Court judgment in Johnson v. Eisentraeger, which, hopefully, will be overturned by the Supreme Court in 2004. In the landmark dissenting opinion in Johnson, Justice Black wrote: "Habeas corpus, as an instrument to protect against illegal imprisonment, is written into the Constitution. Its use by courts in my judgment cannot be constitutionally abridged by Executive or by Congress. I would hold that our courts can exercise it whenever any United States official illegally imprisons any person in any land we govern. Courts should not for any reason abdicate this, the loftiest power with which the Constitution has endowed them." The cases currently pending before the Supreme Court concerning 16 Guantánamo detainees provide the opportunity for the Supreme Court to align itself with the 1950 dissenters and to reject the anachronistic Johnson precedent. It is the function of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution in the light of today's legal order, which includes international law. It is worth recalling that according to article VI of the United States Constitution, treaties (such as the human rights conventions) are "the supreme law of the land," and pursuant to the 1900 Supreme Court judgment in the Paquete Habana case, "International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice." In the light of this principle, prior Supreme Courts have reviewed and reversed obsolete precedent, e.g. when the racist 1896 Supreme Court judgment in Plessey v. Ferguson had to be overturned.

Thus, it is clear that there is no "legal black hole." The norms exist. As elsewhere with American unilateralism, including the war against terrorism, we are confronted with the challenge of grave breaches of international law perpetrated with impunity. The issue remains one of non-enforcement of norms, because of a lack of effective sanctions.

What is happening is so serious, that former President Carter articulated the general malaise of many informed Americans over the aberrant situation that the Guantánamo internees "have been held in prison without access to their families or a lawyer, or without knowing the charges against them. We've got hundreds of people, some of them as young as 12, captured in Afghanistan, brought to Guantánamo Bay and kept in cages for what is going on two years. It's difficult for international aid workers to spread the message of human rights to places like Cuba, Africa and the Middle East when the US government doesn't practice fairness and equality." (Carter Center, 15 Sept. 2003). Carter's words deserve reflection about the rule of law and about the values which we Americans espouse. What is happening in Guantánamo reminds us unpleasantly of military-junta policies, unworthy of a democratic nation like the United States, which could and should be the example for the world.

The Nobel peace laureate Jimmy Carter has not tired of voicing his concern over the scandal of Guantanamo "because this is a violation of the basic character of my country and it's very disturbing to me" (Carter Center, 11 November 2003). It should disturb the conscience of all Americans, because grave crimes are being committed in the name of the United States. As an American I too protest and say: not in my name.

The Legal Status of Guantanamo Bay

Having determined that the detainees in Guantánamo have status in international law, we turn to examine a question largely neglected in the media: the status of Guantanamo Bay in international law.

It is indeed an anomaly that the United States has occupied this Bay on Cuban territory for 105 years, and under lease for 100 years. Most lease agreements are of limited duration, and the longest last for 99 years. We recall that the U.S. occupation of the Panama Canal Zone (also under a treaty of 1903) ended in 1977, the British occupation of Hong Kong in 1997 and the Portuguese occupation of Macau in 1999. The return of many colonial and other occupied territories to the rightful sovereigns and peoples has proceeded in keeping with the principle of self-determination and the process of de-colonization after World War II.

With regard to Guantánamo, however, the United States claims to have a perpetual lease. Admittedly, under article 1 of the 1903 agreement, Cuba granted the lease "for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations." However, under article 3: "While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of the occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement, the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas..." (emphasis added).

Since 1959 Cuba has argued bi-laterally and before the United Nations that the 1903 and 1934 lease agreements are invalid under modern international law, and that Guantanamo was "usurped illegally against the wishes of the Cuban people." On 14 January 2002, shortly after the United States started transferring Taliban detainees to Guantánamo, the Government of Cuba recalled that:

"The Platt Amendment, which granted the United States the right to intervene in Cuba, was imposed on the text of our 1901 Constitution as a prerequisite for the withdrawal of the American troops from Cuban territory. In line with that clause, the aforementioned Agreement on Coaling and Naval Stations was signed on February 1903... .In due course... the illegally occupied territory of Guantánamo should be returned to Cuba."

Cuba, of course, has no possibility to expel the United States from Guantánamo. It can only protest, and its protests have the function in international law of frustrating any eventual United States contention about putative Cuban acquiescence, and thus prevents the US from being able to claim sovereignty over the territory by virtue of occupation and prescription.

Cuba further argues that the lease agreement is void because of material breach by the United States. Article 1 and 2 of the 1903 agreement clearly stipulate the uses for which the lease was granted, namely "as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose." (emphasis added)

Pursuant to article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a treaty is voidable by virtue of material breach of its provisions. Surely the use of the territory as an internment camp (for 36,000 Haitian refugees in the years 1991 to 1994, and 21,000 Cuban boat people in the 1990's), or as a detention and interrogation center and prisoner of war camp where trials and even executions are envisaged is wholly incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty and entails a material breach of the agreement justifying unilateral termination by Cuba.

Another serious concern is that, according to reliable sources, gross violations of international human rights norms and international humanitarian law are occurring in the territory. If indeed torture is being practiced, as a number of released detainees have stated and as Richard Brourke, the Australian lawyer of several detainees maintains, such gross violations of human rights would entail an even graver breach of the lease agreement justifying its immediate termination.

There are other related legal questions that must be answered. For instance, is the continued occupation of Guantánamo Bay by the United States compatible with the United Nations Charter, in particular in the light of article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter which prohibits the use of force? Is it compatible with article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates the right to self-determination and the right to dispose of a people's natural resources? Is it compatible with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations? This famous Friendly Relations Resolution, adopted without a single dissenting vote, strongly reaffirms the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and the principle of the sovereign equality of States.

Peaceful Solutions

There is an international law obligation to negotiate, and pursuant to article 2, paragraph 3, of the United Nations Charter, disputes must be settled by peaceful means. Thus, it would appear appropriate to submit the various issues in dispute to binding arbitration, or to adjudication by the International Court of Justice, if indeed the disputes cannot be settled through bi-lateral negotiation.

Any such tribunal would have to interpret the meaning of the term "sovereignty," as it appears in article 3 of the 1903 lease agreement. Yet another term requiring interpretation, is the word "continued," since the agreement provides for the "continued ultimate sovereignty" of Cuba. The question is thus whether sovereignty can be trumped by virtue of a lease agreement that does not state a specific date of termination. Many international lawyers believe that the possibility of termination must be interpreted into such agreements. Even the Panama Canal Treaty of 1903 that provided for transfer of "sovereignty" to the United States "in perpetuity," required renegotiation and ended in 1977.

Both with regard to the distressing situation of the detainees and the continued occupation of Cuban territory by the United States, the UN General Assembly could request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, for instance on the application of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Conventions in Guantánamo, and on the consequences in international law of the continued occupation of Guantánamo by the United States. The famous ICJ advisory opinion in the South West Africa /Namibia case was an important nail in the coffin of Apartheid and accelerated the international pressure leading to Namibia's independence.

Since diplomatic intercession by States whose citizens are being held in Guantánamo has met very limited success, some of these States would be well advised to invoke the inter-State complaints procedures under article 41 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and under article 21 of the Convention against Torture. The United States has recognized the competence of the UN Human Rights Committee and of the UN Committee against Torture to entertain inter-State complaints.

In this context, the good offices of the UN Secretary General or of the Secretary General of the OAS could also be requested.

Until these problems are solved, Guantánamo will remain an international challenge to the rule of law and a twenty-first century aberration. As the former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, said in a BBC interview on 5 October 2003: "A future American President will have to apologize for Guantánamo."

December 31, 2003

Dr.iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas [send him mail] is Visiting Professor of International Law at the University of British Columbia. He is Former Secretary, United Nations Human Rights Committee and Former Chief of Petitions at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. This article originally appeared on December 29, 2003, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

To all 09.Jun.2005 17:54


Some of the comments here I do agree with and some I do not, but all,please remember that Fidel allowed nuclear weapons to be placed on his Island and be aimed at the US, toward our children and loved ones. I can't fault our then president and gov't for not allowing this. In fact we must thank the US Gov't for not allowing this to stand. Sure we've not been right a lot of the time but with a neighbor like Castro, do you really want to be his friend...