Gitmo’s Birthday / Fernando Dámaso

The issue of Gitmo, as the Detention Center created ten years ago by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba is known, is controversial, both at home and elsewhere. Its defenders and detractors have faced off in a war of words for quite some time. For some, the detainees there are dangerous terrorists and murderers who behead their prisoners, ready, if released, to continue with their misdeeds, now encouraged by the thirst for revenge. For others, they are simply innocent doves, unable to harm anyone, like the good characters of fairy tales. I think that both assessments are exaggerated, and respond more to political rather than human posturing. In free societies, where everyone can say and write what they think, it is understandable that this happens.

What is striking is that some Cuban journalists have entered the debate, some bitterly repeating old and familiar political cliches, and others even poetically, but with the same fury as the others. All respond to the government and none has ever written, let alone published, a word about the hundreds of Cuban prisons, all over the country and their situation, where many citizens are serving sentences for common crimes and other political crimes, those defined as against state security. So concerned are they about Gitmo and its inmates, they should also be so about Cuban jails and their prisoners. I am convinced that the public would welcome it, although I know I’m asking the impossible.

Speaking of Gitmo, these hacks take the opportunity to once again insist on the illegality of the U.S. presence in the territory of the Naval Base. It’s good to clarify, although it shames us, that this territory was given, first for 99 years and thereafter in perpetuity, through agreements signed by two Cuban governments in power and the United States which, under international law, are binding. The word illegal, therefore, is needless. Its return to Cuba can only be achieved in a climate of mutual respect and trust, when our two countries have normal relations again, and live in peace and as good neighbors, never on a plane of political and ideological clashes with offenses, attacks, insults, neighborhood-type bullying, as has been happening for years.

If what was done by these two governments of the Republic at that time it is illegal (which it is not), it should also be considered unlawful to deliver Cuban territory to the former Soviet Union to place nuclear missiles, deploy a mechanized brigade and install a radio-based electronic spying system, conducted by the socialist government, which were removed from the country by the Soviet government’s unilateral decision when it decided to do so, even against the wishes of Cuban authorities, who should also be ashamed.

Taking advantage of some anniversaries and events of our official enemy that may be questionable, adding new fuel to the fire, will never lead to the solution of the problems that divide us. The hacks should not push for it. The only passable road is respectful dialogue, based on the desire to achieve mutually beneficial agreements. Someday we’ll have to just learn to live in peace with our neighbors, think about how they think, and stop criticizing the speck in our neighbor’s eye, when we have a beam in our own.

January 15 2012