In a recent statement, the government of Cuba offered its cooperation to the U.S. as well as providing medical and other humanitarian services to the prisoners of the war in Afghanistan held at the Guantanamo U.S. naval base.

Cuba opposes the war as a way to end terrorism stating that, “Despite the fact that we hold different positions as to the most efficient way to eradicate terrorism, the difference between Cuba and the United States lies in the method and not in the need to put an end to that scourge…”

Cuba was one of the first countries to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, condemning the action and offering sympathy to the victims as well as medical and other humanitarian assistance.

The statement pointed out that their people too have suffered from terrorism. According to many sources the U.S. government has cooperated and even funded organizations and individuals that carry out bombings and other terrorist activites against the socialist country.

The statement also provided a history of Guantanamo and the U.S. starting with 1901 and the Platt Amendment, which “granted the United States the right to intervene in Cuba.” The U.S. government has a long history of trying to impose its business and corporate interests on the Cuban people.

But under President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy, the U.S. and Cuba signed a new Treaty of Relations that abrogated the Platt Amendment. At the same time the 1934 treaty established Guantanamo as a U.S. naval base.

Since the Cuban revolution, the U.S. military base has been a source of friction. The statement said, “The overwhelming majority of the over 3,000 Cubans who worked there were fired from their jobs and replaced by people from other countries. At present, only 10 Cubans work there.”

The Cuban government has gone out of its way to avoid a major confrontation over Guantanamo. The statement said “a basic principle of Cuba’s policy toward this bizarre and potentially dangerous problem between Cuba and the United States, which is decades long, has been to avoid that our claim would become a major issue, not even a specially important issue, among the multiple and grave differences existing between the two nations.”

On Feb. 19, 2000, Cuba issued the “Pledge of Baraguá,” which said, “In due course, since it is not our main objective at this time, although it is our people’s right and one that we shall never renounce, the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba!”

In 1999, the base was considered as a shelter for refugees from Kosovo. Although the Cuban government was not consulted, the statement said “that for the first time, we were informed of the decision and the rationale behind it. We then gave a constructive response.” The Cuban government offered cooperation, though it opposed the war on Yugoslavia.

The Cuban government was not consulted about the recent Bush administration decision but said they received “ample and detailed information on the steps that would be taken to accommodate the prisoners there and ensure that the security of our people is not in any way jeopardized.” The latest details were given to the Cuban government Jan. 7.

“Despite the major increase of military personnel that such an operation will require, we feel that it does not pose any threat to the national security of our country,” the statement said. “Cuba will make every effort to preserve the atmosphere of détente and mutual respect that has prevailed in that area in the past few years.”

The Cuban government said it appreciated the information provided to them and also noted the Bush administration’s statements saying the prisoners will be accorded adequate and humane treatment that may be monitored by the International Red Cross.

To see the statement in full go to www.pww.org

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