Since 2002 liberal political elites have complained, sometimes wailed, about how enemy combatants, suspected terrorists, are being treated by our military at our base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GiTMO). The mainstream media exaggerates the isolated mistakes, while discounting any of the good. Legions of lawyers in Washington, DC, most well-intentioned and doing a good job, have dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly more, in pro bono legal work time to defending the rights of the detained. And a vocal minority in the Congress, supported by the radical left, have even proposed closing GiTMO and moving detainees to U.S. facilities in Kansas and other locations on our soil.
If it were not for the media attention since 2001, most Americans would not know that the U.S. has been at GiTMO since 1903 under a legal lease signed with the Government of Cuba; at the time, a nascent democracy and free country. Today a U.S. Navy base with many other duties ranging from regional security to the war against radical Islamic terror, only a limited and isolated portion of GiTMO houses the suspected terrorists. The current, Communist government of Cuba, a state sponsor of terrorism since 1982, logically has been opposed to our presence since it took control of the island in 1959. The Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) has also latched on to the detainee facility matter and opposed it. Here, again, is yet another dramatic contrast, another evil, conveniently ignored by the culture of political relativism.
While a lot of things have been said about the U.S. detainee facility, both good and most if it not so good, little has been said by these same critics of our policy during the past fifty years about the prison of ten million people on the other side of our naval base. In 2005, Amnesty International made the outrageous observation that the detainee facility was the “gulag of our times,” yet, for years, that same organization has paid perfunctory lip service to the outrageous human rights situation in Cuba. International prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague and national governments have tried to bring charges against U.S. elected officials and our military for alleged human rights abuses; yet these same people repeatedly refuse to bring charges against true criminals, the high-ranking officials of the Communist Party of Cuba, for clear and documented crimes against humanity, and other charges.
In October 2007, President George Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a Cuban political prisoner who has been rotting in Cuban political prison for many years. Oscar Elias Biscet, a black Cuban medical doctor, is symbolic of the thousands of political prisoners languishing in inhumane condition throughout the Communist island’s prison and torture centers. Since 1959, thousands have been killed without trials or those that had a trial, a show trial at best. Those that have not died in prison, have been exiled to the U.S., Spain, and other countries. The crimes? Exercising freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom to worship as they see fit, possessing copies of Martin Luther King speeches, the Declaration of Independence, or the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Biscet’s initial crime was exposing the Communist Party’s policy of eugenics that included forced abortions and mass euthanasia of individuals deemed “undesirable” to the Party.
The left as done nothing to support the victims of Cuban communism, in fact, most of the time they deny that it is even a problem. Proponents of engagement with Cuba look at supporters of current U.S. policy with disdain or just about the same way they view supporters of our work at combating radical Islamic terror. The thousands languishing in the true “Cuban gulag,” not GiTMO, do not have an army of lawyers from other countries pleading their cases in federal court or at international tribunals. And, in Congress, the persecutors of the Communist Party of Cuba have a voice. A working group of Members of Congress actively work ease U.S. sanctions on Cuba, while ignoring the plight of the persecuted. Democratic leaders who most recently decry the treatment of labor leaders in Colombia, a specious argument since Colombia is cracking down on labor leader murders, say nothing about Cuba’s decades-old ban on unions and related rights, the imprisonment and torture of labor leaders, and related crimes.
While it may frustrate opponents of the war to hear this, GiTMO stands for freedom, a beacon of hope on an enslaved island. There is only one Guantanamo, and no matter what the mainstream media and radical left attempt to do with its campaigns of anti-American distortion, GiTMO has been a sentinel at the heart of the Caribbean. The work done at GiTMO by our military, all of it, is to be commended and not incessantly lambasted, wantonly attacked, or without placing isolated bad events in proper context.
With regards to the people of Cuba, the unspoken irony is that the Communist government tried to use the U.S. presence as a symbol of Yankee imperialism. It failed. We are still there after so many years. For the people living on the western-end of Cuba, it is a powerful a symbol of hope. The Cuban regime has placed thousands of land mines alongside the hundreds of miles of fencing to keep its people from escaping Cuba. But for the mines and the Cuban guards and watch towers, should the occasion present itself, hundreds of thousands of desperate Cubans would seek freedom and safety at the very place that both the Cuban regime and the radical left would have us close.
In his most recent letter from prison, Dr. Biscet, an ardent supporter of current U.S. policy, quotes at length from the Book of Isiah and, in part, says “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people …”. The Communist oppressors that run the Potemkin Village that is Cuba, will someday soon have to answer for their crimes against humanity and against the Cuban people. The U.S. stands ready to support the Cuban people, as we have people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the continent of Europe after World War II.
Yet, no matter what the anti-American chorus at home and abroad may have to say about GiTMO and the work that we do there, we have nothing to be ashamed about. S ure, mistakes may have been made, but we immediately corrected the problem. A free people with a robust and transparent legal system can do such things. Not so on the other side of GiTMO where such freedoms have been trampled upon since 1959.
Remember, the freest place in Cuba is GiTMO. The Cuban regime and the anti-American lobby know that. That is why they seek to distort.
To learn some history about GiTMO, visit this website.