Hands off Cuba! US stationing nuclear sub at Guantánamo shows need for solidarity


“The US government has occupied Guantánamo Bay, against the will of the Cuban people, for over 120 years and it remains the oldest US military base outside of the US.”

By Tariq Anderson, Cuba Solidarity Campaign

At a time of heightened global tensions, and with the prospect of nuclear conflict at its highest since the end of the Cold War, the United States government recently stationed a nuclear submarine at a military base in illegally occupied Guantánamo Bay. The move was condemned by Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a “provocative escalation” and serves as yet another reminder of the US government’s continued violation of Cuba’s national sovereignty.

The US government has occupied Guantánamo Bay, against the will of the Cuban people, for over 120 years and it remains the oldest US military base outside of the United States. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement on the latest provocation made clear, the continued occupation of some 117 square kilometres of Cuban land “stands as a colonial remnant of the illegitimate military occupation of our country.”

The United States seized control of Guantánamo Bay at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and, in the process of formalising their control over the island, ratified their occupation of Guantánamo with the Platt Amendment in 1901.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry highlighted that the continued US occupation exists in the context of a broader US military presence in the region. “It is… important to take into account the fact that, as a threat to the sovereignty and the interests of Latin American and Caribbean peoples, the United States has established more than 70 military bases in the region… plus other operational forms of military presence”, their statement said. “Recently, its high military commands have publicly announced their intention to use their war capabilities to realise the US ambitions over the natural resources of Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The objectives of the Cuban government in the region could not stand in starker contrast to those of the US. Cuba joins 32 other nations in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as signatory to the Declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. The declaration, first signed in Havana in 2014, affirmed the region’s commitment to “continue promoting nuclear disarmament as a priority objective” and at this year’s CELAC summit in Buenos Aires, CELAC once again affirmed the region as a zone of peace and one free of nuclear weapons.

However, while it’s important to place this recent provocation in a wider regional context, the continued occupation of Guantánamo remains unique. It is the only foreign military base in the world that is maintained against the wishes of the host government and is the only US military base established and maintained with an indefinite lease.

The US presence there serves two primary purposes. The first is as a centre for detention and torture in the US’s so-called “War on Terror”, where hundreds of prisoners have been held without charge since it first opened in 2002. The second is the “political objective of trying to outrage Cuba’s sovereign rights”, an objective which the US government has pursued dogmatically since the Revolution triumphed in 1959. This recent threat is simply the latest manifestation of the attempts to undermine Cuba’s independence and its Revolution.

Cuba’s assertion of its sovereignty over Guantánamo has remained steadfast. In 2015, as the administrations of Raul Castro and Barack Obama worked towards some form of rapprochement between the two nations, Castro told a CELAC summit that such a move would not be possible without the return of Guantánamo. “The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while… they don’t give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo naval base,” Castro said.

The long-standing US policy to undermine Cuba’s national sovereignty and its revolution has intensified in recent years, with the economic blockade being tightened to unprecedented levels by the Trump administration. The introduction of 243 new sanctions and the spurious inclusion of Cuba on the US government’s ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ list has caused significant hardship on the island. Despite campaign promises to reverse these punitive measures, the Biden administration has kept the vast majority in place. US policy towards Cuba remains largely unchanged.

Cuba, along with the overwhelming majority of nations in the Americas, remains committed to peace in the region. As the leaders of CELAC nations made clear at this year’s summit, they are also committed to the promotion of “international cooperation, the rule of law, multilateralism, respect for territorial integrity, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States, the defence of sovereignty, as well as the promotion of justice and the maintenance of international peace and security.” The continued US occupation of Guantánamo, and this latest provocation, flies in the face of every one of these principles.

We must continue to show our solidarity with the Cuban people in the face of such aggression and for the full realisation of Cuba’s independence and sovereignty.

  • Tariq Anderson, is the Trade Union and Campaigns Officer of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC), you can follow CSC on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
  • You can sign Cuba Solidarity Campaign’s open letter to Joe Biden, calling for an end to the blockade, here.
  • If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles here and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.

Featured image: Silhouettes of People Holding Flag of Cuba. Image by rawpixel.com

Leave a Reply