A symbol of arrogance and injustice was how Don E. Walicek, from the United States and a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, described the Naval Base located on Cuban territory illegally occupied by the United States for over half a century.
During a meeting in Guantánamo with history professors from different branches of education, researchers and other invited guests, Walicek spoke about the book Guantánamo y el imperialismo norteamericano: las humanidades hablan.
According to Walicek, the work, which features contributions by researchers from Guantánamo and the U.S., is the fruit of a project which was launched two years ago, and aims to expose the disgraceful acts committed at the facility.
He noted that two days after being sworn in as President, Barack Obama ordered the facilities on the base to be closed within one year, almost a decade later and the establishment remains up and running.
Walicek, also editor of the Caribbean studies journal Sargasso, discussed the legal status of prisoners – all Muslims – 20 of whom were declared innocent around 10 years ago but are still waiting to be released.
Another 29, he noted, have not been charged, although the U.S. government refuses to release them.
The professor, who visited the base in July 2016, also mentioned changes to the facility’s infrastructure, and the million dollar investments taking place there, including the installation of a second fiber-optic cable connecting the base with Puerto Rico.
“Such reforms suggest that the U.S. government has no intention of returning the occupied territory to Cuba,” he noted.
The U.S. professor also highlighted the need for activists to unite efforts to oppose the abuses committed at the detention center, and in so doing create a common and strong movement which brings together diverse voices in a single front, including former employees and prisoners at the base, lawyers, artists and writers.
He went on to stress the importance of not only struggling for the base’s closure and return of the territory to the Cuban people, but also for the elimination of mechanisms which allow human rights to be violated.
During the exchange, José Sánchez Guerra, Guantánamo City Historian, denounced the economic harm caused to the people of the province, due to the impossibility of using the Bay, the second largest in Cuba and one of the island’s principle natural treasures.