The detention center established by the U.S. government in Cuban territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in Washington’s long history of human rights violations.
Under the George W. Bush administration and its supposed war on terrorism, the facility began to receive hundreds of prisoners, detained without trial, many of whom were sent from secret U.S. prisons in other countries.
According to the terms of the contract leasing this part of Cuban territory to the U.S. which was forcibly imposed during the U.S. military occupation of the island during the early 20th century and included in the Platt Amendment, the area where the base is located is recognized as Cuban sovereign land, over which Washington has full control to carry out its operations, however, resulting in what lawyers have called a “legal black hole”. The only “strategic benefit” of the facility, a scar on the Cuban people’s sovereignty, is that it allows the U.S. government to carry out torture and arbitrary detentions with impunity, beyond the reach of the country’s justice system and the international community.
The truth of what goes on in Guantánamo prison has slowly but surely been revealed to the world, through testimonies by the victims themselves and statements by honest officials unable to bear the weight of covering up such barbarity.
The closure of the dentition center remains one of current U.S. President’s unfulfilled election campaign promises.
Barack Obama has faced a Republican-dominated Congress fiercely opposed to closing the facility. Now, with less than three months until his term in office ends, everything seems to suggest that the prison will be one of his legacies, inherited by the next occupant of the White House.
The most recent policy directive on U.S.-Cuba normalization issued by President Barack Obama, states that his government has no intention of modifying the current lease or other measures related to the Naval Base in Guantánamo, which supposedly “enables the United States to enhance and preserve regional security.”
In addition to lifting the blockade, and compensation for damages caused over 50 years by this aggressive policy, as well as an end to subversive programs and illegal radio and television broadcasts, Cuba has insisted that the base is a key issue to be resolved, in order to advance in the process toward the normalization of relations, which began on December 17, 2014 following the announcements made by Presidents Rául Castro and Barack Obama declaring a new stage in relations between the two countries.
Given that it violates the rights of 11 million Cubans, opposed to the illegal occupation of their territory, the elimination of this colonial vestige in the 21st century continues to be a pending issue for the White House.
FACTS & FIGURES
Over $7 million: The annual cost of keeping just one detainee at the Guantánamo prison
$30,621: What it costs to keep just one convicted prisoner at a U.S. federal penitentiary for a year.
12 minors under the age of 18 detained at the prison
13 is the age of the youngest detainee
89 is the age of the oldest prisoner
1: The number of Guantánamo detainees transferred to the U.S. to stand trial before a federal court.
500+ Individuals suspected of terrorism tried in federal courts since 9/11
8: Number of Guantánamo detainees tried by military commissions.
7: Military lawyers who resigned or requested transfers given concerns over violations committed at the facility.
$91 million: Total amount of money spent annually on military trials at the base.
31: Detainees who have not been charged with any crime and are still waiting to be approved for release.
200+ FBI agents have reported abusive treatment toward prisoners
21: The number of children detained at the Guantánamo prison
26: The number of detainees tortured in secret CIA prisons in other countries before being transferred to the Guantánamo facility.
779 detainees in Guantánamo since the prison opened on January 11, 2002
60 detainees held since October 2016
20 still incarcerated after having been approved for release by the U.S. government
Deaths in custody: 7 apparent suicides, 1 fatal heart attack, 1 cancer-related death
Sources: Cubaminrex, Amnesty International, The New York Times, American Civil Liberties Union, the Red Cross International Committee