From May 4th to 6th, 2017, over 200 activists from 32 countries came together for the Fifth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases. The conference took place in Guantanamo City, Cuba, and was organized by MOVPAZ, the Cuban Movement for Peace. This year the Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade from Canada joined the conference, alongside people from around the world including the US, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Palestine, Angola and many Latin American countries.
While in Guantanamo City one is reminded that just a short distance away the United States has occupied 120 square kilometers of Cuban territory for over 100 years, since 1903. The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base includes the Guantanamo Bay "detention camp", the military prison infamous for horrific torture and extra-judicial detention. Cuba continues to demand the return of Guantanamo Bay from the US, which threatens their sovereignty, counts for a huge loss of revenue for being unable to access the bay, and places the biggest hostile force which Cuba faces, US imperialism, on Cuban soil.
A highlight of the conference was a screening of the new documentary film “All Guantanamo is Ours” with a presentation by Javier Salado Villacin, producer of the documentary and editor of Resumen Latinoamericano. Besides learning more about Guantanamo Bay, participants heard presentations about US military bases in or near other countries such as Japan, Palestine, Puerto Rica and Venezuela. The city of Guantanamo also hosted the conference participants at a beautiful “Concert for Peace” and demonstrated that Guantanamo is much more than a US military base, and that Guantanamo is kind-hearted and welcoming people, defiant fighters for justice, as well as talented singers, musicians and dancers.
While the United States has around 800 foreign military bases around the world, Guantanamo Bay is the largest and oldest US foreign military base. The final day of the conference included a trip to a nearby town, Caimanera, which sits directly on the border with the US occupied part of Guantanamo Bay. The visitors heard stories about how directly the US occupation effects the lives of people living there, and saw at a distance the US watchtower, complete with US flag, facing off a Cuban watchtower just across the border.
The conference closed with a final declaration, which called for activists to “continue to demand that the United States return to Cuba and its people the illegally occupied territory of the Guantánamo Naval Base, and the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.”
US Return Guantanamo Now!
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