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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/21/17

In Guantanamo, Cuba, International Peacemakers Say No to Foreign Military Bases

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Veterans for Peace delegation to the symposium
Veterans for Peace delegation to the symposium
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There were 217 delegates from 32 countries who attended the Fifth International Seminar on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases held in Guantanamo, Cuba May 4-6, 2017. The theme of the seminar was "A World of Peace is Possible."

The focus of the conference was the impact of the 800 military bases the United States and other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, China, Russian, Israel, Japan have around the world. The U.S. has the overwhelming number of military bases in the lands of other countries -- over 800.

Speakers included the President of the World Peace Council Maria Soccoro Gomes from Brazil; Silvio Platero, President of the Cuban Peace Movement; Daniel Ortega Reyes, Member of the National Assembly of Nicaragua; Bassel Ismail Salem, representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; representatives of the Okinawan movement against U.S. military bases at Takae, Henoko and Futemna and Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace.

Ian Hansen, President of the Psychologists for Social Responsibility, spoke about U.S. psychologists who had participated in torture of prisoners at Guantanamo and black sites, and the decision of the American Psychologists Association to renounce its previous acceptance of unethical language which allowed psychologists participation in interrogations for "national security."

The symposium included a trip to the village of Caimanera which is located on the fence-line of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay. It has been in existence for 117 years and, since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the U.S. has issued a check each year for $4,085 for annual payment for the base -- checks which the Cuban government has not cashed.

To prevent any pretext for U.S. violence against Cubans, the Cuban government does not permit Cuban fishermen to go out of Guantanamo Bay past the U.S. Naval Base to fish in the ocean. In 1976, the U.S. military attacked a fisherman who subsequently died from his injuries. Interestingly, Guantanamo Bay is not closed to Cuba commercial cargo freighters. With coordination and authorization with the U.S. military forces, cargo ships carrying construction supplies and other merchandise for the village of Caimanera and for Guantanamo City can transit past the U.S. Naval Base. Other Cuban government coordination with the U.S. Naval Base authorities include response to natural disasters and for wildfires on the base.

The village of Caimanera looking out toward the huge U.S. naval base at Guantanamo.
The village of Caimanera looking out toward the huge U.S. naval base at Guantanamo.
(Image by Photo by Ann Wright)
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Canada, the United States and Brazil had the largest delegations at the conference with representatives from Angola, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bolivia, Botswana, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, El Salvador, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Kiribati. Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Basque region of Spain, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Seychelles, Switzerland and Venezuela.

Veterans for Peace and CODEPINK: Women for Peace had delegations attending the conference with other U.S. citizens representing the Women's League for Peace and Freedom, the U.S. Peace Council, and the Socialist Workers Party.

Several of the delegates were international students attending the Medical School located in Guantanamo. The Guantanamo Medical School has over 5,000 students including 110 international students.

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Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)
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