Guantánamo: US should return base to Cuba

President Barack Obama, center, delivers a statement on a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility with Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Aude Guerrucci – TNS

Against all congressional odds, President Obama proposes to do the right thing by closing the Guantánamo Naval Base detention facility. He did not propose what is obvious to most Cubans, that the base itself should be closed.

Announcing his plan in the Roosevelt Room is a reassurance, or provocation, that the U.S. will maintain jurisdiction over Guantánamo. Behind Obama hung a painting of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, leading the Rough Riders in an 1898 war that subjected the Cuban independence movement to U.S. occupation.

Roosevelt was president in December 1901 when Cuba was forced to incorporate the Platt Amendment into its constitution, which allowed for repeated U.S. interventions in Cuba. And in 1903, he signed the treaty that gave the U.S. rights over Guantánamo “for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose,” while recognizing “the continuance of ultimate sovereignty” by Cuba.

Obama or the next president should propose, from a different room, to honor Cuba’s sovereignty by returning Guantánamo to that country.

John Lear, Tacoma, letter to the editor

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