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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hey, Hey Guantánamo Bay Has Gotta Stay

Built in 1898, Naval Station Guantánamo Bay -- a 45 square mile military facility on Cuba's eastern shore -- is the oldest US Navy base in existence.   Military folks call it Gitmo, which is the pronunciation of GTMO, the designation code for the airfield there. 

But what truly makes Gitmo unique is that it is the only US Navy base on communist soil, some 522 miles south of Miami, Florida. Yes, it's very close. In the spirit of full disclosure, I visited Gitmo in 1994 as a journalist, covering a crisis that had brought thousands of Cuban rafters seeking refuge. Gitmo is sprawling, dusty, and hot. There is even a McDonald's there.  
McDonald's at Gitmo

The Navy leases the land from Cuba via an agreement which can only be broken if both sides decide to do so. Even through the early Castro years, when "la revolucion" had not yet identified its socialist leanings to the world, Gitmo was a toehold in a politically molten region. The Cold War, the Bay of Pigs, the onslaught of Cubans arriving in Miami, the embargo -- all through these Gitmo bore mute witness and stayed put. The reasons for its ongoing existence were complex and emotionally charged. Democratic socialism in Havana broke down and now the cruel reality of a miserably failed social experiment is naked to the world.

Cuba, once lush and thriving, is poor.  Havana, its sexy and sensuous capital city is now a sylph. There is just enough of her beauty left to remind those who knew her at the height of her powers about the cruel joke that had been played on her, on all those who called her home.

And now the sitting President of the United States is planning a journey to the island. I can't bear to write his name I'm so angry at his insensitivity, and I'm not the only Cuban who feels this way. POTUS would be the first in 50 years to visit the island, something I'm sure he's seeking in an effort to aggrandize what is a tepid administration.

POTUS is going to shake Raul Castro's hand while standing on Cuban soil, in apparent denial of all the human rights violations the Castros have inflicted on the Cuban people (both in Cuba and abroad) in all that time.
Naval Station Guantánamo Bay

Is he that desperate for a legacy? Perhaps the first black man to be elected President (for that is what history will baptize him a century from now) wants to be known for something else. I don’t blame him for that. I do blame him for choosing to visit Cuba as a pat answer to the legacy matter. It's not a pat answer, it's a pathetic one in my view.

Further, POTUS has said he wants to give Gitmo back to the Castros. Whose lame idea was that? Gitmo is a fully operational US Navy base smack dab in one of the most accessible and desirable locations in the region.

Does POTUS believe that the two old and addled Castros are not capable of doing more than just merely keeping it? Does it not occur to any of his "brain trust" that they could easily turn around and lease the land to the Koreans, Russia, China or some Middle Eastern sect?

What is he smoking, and if you believe any of this, what are you smoking? There is more to Cuba than cigars, and your desire to smoke them comes at a huge price. Don’t pay it.

Marco Rubio said it best -- "We are not giving an important naval base to an anti-American, communist dictatorship." 

Amen, Marco.  That "democratically socialist" dictatorship is 500 miles from US shores. Be afraid, be very afraid. 

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