Guantanamo Bay Term Paper

Pages: 61 (16801 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American

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An additional 16 voted for the Cuban independence measure and abstained from the Platt Amendment (Mellen, 2004). These votes from the hypocritical members of the Senate would have defeated the Platt Amendment had they not changed their position so drastically (Mellen, 2004).

The U.S. intent to use the Platt amendment as the means to legitimize control over Cuba was not a hidden agenda (Mellen, 2004). Congressman Corliss of Michigan stated: "I am construed to vote for the amendment with reference to the island of Cuba, because I believe that the adoption thereof will insure the continuance of our sovereignty. I am unalterably opposed to the surrender of the sovereignty of the United States over the island of Cuba" (Mellen, 2004). Congressman C.E. Littlefield of Maine opposed the Platt Amendment; he stated that, "The Cuban amendment, which is said to contain our ultimatum to Cuba, does not in my opinion, contemplate surrendering 'exclusive control' of Cuba to the 'inhabitants of Cuba,' for whom the territory is now 'held in trust,' 'when a stable government shall have been established by their voluntary action;' but on the contrary, it seems to me that it clearly intends to perpetuate our control over the island and its inhabitants" (Mellen, 2004).

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Historian Louis A. Perez, Jr. stated the result of the Platt Amendment best, when he said that, "During the decades following the Spanish-Cuban-American War], the Platt Amendment served as the principle instrument of hegemony. Immediately through direct rule during the occupation and subsequently through indirect rule under the Platt Amendment, the United States exercised authority over Cuba not unlike sovereignty. The Platt Amendment was an organic document -- evolving and changing as circumstances dictated. It opened Cuba to the expansion of U.S. capital and held the republic to its continued defense. It was a pursuit that required increasingly deeper involvement in Cuban internal affairs, and the amendment served this purpose too. Indeed, in the end there was little in the exercise of hegemony that did not find sanction in the Platt Amendment" (Mellen, 2004).

Term Paper on Guantanamo Bay and the United Assignment

In 1905, insurgents in Cuba were poised to begin conflict once again: the Cuban government, under Thomas Estrada Palma that the U.S. allowed to take office abused its powers and fraudulently swept all elections (Mellen, 2004). The populist military (largely of Afro-Cuban descent), which had been pushed out during the previous U.S. occupation, were ready to take control of the government by force of arms (Mellen, 2004). Although the U.S. government admitted serious problems with the Cuban government Roosevelt and his party felt that they could not allow Cuba to fall into anarchy as that would harm U.S. interests in Cuba; thus, once again the U.S. occupied Cuba with its military in 1906 (Mellen, 2004).

They stayed three years and in that time they removed Cubans from positions of municipal authority (Mellen, 2004). The U.S. never occupied Cuba again militarily, and the mere threat of that possibility was enough to scare the Cubans into compromises with one another (Mellen, 2004). When they did finally throw off the yoke of the Platt Amendment it was in 1934 and the U.S. had enough of its own problems in the depth of the Great Depression to ignore such Cuban effrontery (Mellen, 2004).

Many historians have argued that U.S. imperialism began with Cuba; others contest this citing the Mexican-American War of 1848 and the continuous exploitation of the Native Americans, particularly in the nineteenth century (Mellen, 2004).

Both are somewhat correct: Manifest Destiny is clearly imperialistic, but, the U.S. treatment of Cuba, as shown by the Platt Amendment, shows a different type of imperialism (Mellen, 2004). This new "empire" controlled areas without deluging them with U.S. citizens. It controlled countries and people through military and economic hegemony (Mellen, 2004).

The U.S. Naval base was very unpopular with the Cuban people before the U.S. Navy had even moved in, leading the Cuban government to write a letter to Washington asking for any changeover ceremony to be kept to a minimum, as there had been protests against the lease, but only nine years later, the U.S. imposed another agreement on Cuba, enlarging the size of the U.S. area to what it is now, even though this covered an access channel which had previously been agreed as a shared channel, to ensure 'free trade' (CSC, 2003).

In 1934, faced with economic hardships, the U.S. began a so-called "Good Neighbour" policy and signed a Treaty of Reciprocity, which repealed the Platt Amendment and the 1903 Permanent Treaty, but maintained all stipulations concerning Guantanamo; however, as the treaty was being signed in Washington, over 20 U.S. warships paid "friendly" visits to various points along the Cuban coast (CSC, 2003).

Chapter 3: The Legality of the U.S. Occupation of Guantanamo Bay

This Chapter looks at the legality of the U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay, in terms of the laws that apply to the annexation of an area of a country by another country, and the continued occupation of that country, despite the fact that, under international law, this annexation and occupation is not legal.

Despite numerous calls for the return of Guantanamo Bay, the United States still has a Naval base on Cuban soil; at the start of George Bush Senior's administration the man in charge of the base, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, James H. Webb, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in which he said: "It is reasonable to assume that we will lose our lease on Guantanamo Bay in 1999" (Weston, 2004). Yet as we come to the end of Bush juniors first term in charge there appears to be no end to the occupation, how is this possible and is it legal (Weston, 2004)?

In November 2003, international law expert Professor Alfred de Zayas, from the University of British Colombia, gave a lecture on the state of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay (Weston, 2004). He began this lecture by detailing the position of the U.S. base in international law, and found that there are four main ways in which the lease and the treaty that created it can only be described as illegal (Weston, 2004).

1) The treaty was imposed by force (Weston, 2004). The 1903 Treaty that brought about the base at Guantanamo was invalid from the beginning, as it was imposed by force (Weston, 2004). After four years of military rule the United States decided against a complete annexation of Cuba, instead they wanted a system that would allow political and economic control, the answer was to grant Cuban independence under U.S. terms (Weston, 2004).

The U.S. administration made it clear that there would be no Cuban constitution unless it included an appendix, known as the "Platt amendment" which demanded the right for U.S. military intervention in Cuba and a naval base (Weston, 2004). Initially rejected in Cuba, the Platt amendment had also been unpopular in the U.S. Senate, described by one Senator as an "ultimatum to Cuba," the Cuban government had no other choice but to yield to U.S. pressure and agree to the lease if they wished to have any form of independence (Weston, 2004).

The Treaty was signed, supposedly granting Cuban independence, but merely transforming Cuba into a quasi-protectorate (Weston, 2004). Articles 51 and 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties say that any treaty signed under coercion is illegal, it could be argued that the Vienna Convention only came into force in 1980, yet international opinion was way ahead of this (Weston, 2004).

In 1947, Serge Krylov, a judge at the International Court of Justice said that any treaties "by which an imperialist power imposes its will upon a weaker state" are invalid (Weston, 2004).

2) The treaty was binding in 1903, but is illegal in the post-colonial age

After the Second World War the decolonisation process began and a new set of norms and principles based around the UN Charter meant that obsolete, unequal, colonial laws were being replaced (Weston, 2004).

In the 1970s, the Panamanian Ambassador to the UN argued against the Panama Canal Treaty, which had created a lease that granted the U.S. sovereignty over the Canal for an unlimited time (Weston, 2004). They were widely supported, the Peruvian Ambassador said it was "not in the spirit of the age" and the Canadians said it was "part of the old order" (Weston, 2004).

During the relevant discussions at the UN the Friendly Relations Resolution of 1970 was used as constituting customary international law (Weston, 2004). In the case of the Panama Canal, the treaty had become obsolete, due to the creation of a new international order, encapsulated in the norms and principles of the UN (Weston, 2004).

Yet despite many calls from Cuba at the UN for the return of Guantanamo (the latest being June 2002) there has not even been any discussion,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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