In Guantánamo, Cuba, the delegates of international movements participate in the Fifth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, from May 4 to 6. The initiative is led by the Cuban Movement for Peace and the Peoples’ Sovereignty (MovPaz), the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and the World Peace Council, in co-operation with the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL), the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Reflection Center Oscar Arnulfo Romero. The call emphasizes that the meeting supports the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, approved in 2014. Below, the speech of the WPC president Socorro Gomes:
V International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases | Guantánamo, Cuba | 4-6 May 2017
Speech by Socorro Gomes
President of the World Peace Council
It is with great satisfaction and commitment that we meet in Guantanamo, continuing the essential initiative of this seminar, organized by the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MovPaz), the Cuban Institute for Friendship with Peoples (ICAP) and the World Peace Council (WPC), in partnership with the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (Ospaaal), the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Oscar Anulfo Romero Center of Reflection.
We thank you for the efforts of the Cuban organizations that welcome us back to Guantánamo and the commitment of the delegations that have made the effort to participate in this event in person, or that show their support for our common struggle from their countries. We know that in the context of intensified challenges and obstacles imposed on peoples around the world, resisting oppression, attempts at domination, coups d’état, wars and aggressions, interference and the systemic crisis of historical effects, we must concentrate our efforts and strengthen our most urgent actions, among which is the struggle against foreign military bases.
We have repeatedly denounced that these structures are outposts of US imperialism – which has more than 800 facilities of this type worldwide – and allied powers in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a true war machine.
At the WPC Assembly in 2016, in Brazil, we have strengthened our commitment to the fight against foreign military bases and also against NATO, whose dissolution we see as urgent for the consolidation of peace between peoples, who hope for relations of cooperation and friendship, based on respect for the sovereignty of nations.
That is why, in our Assembly’s Final Declaration, we highlight the militarization of the planet as one of the main threats to humanity, with the spread of military bases by the empire and the expansion of NATO as some of its expressions, besides the modernization of nuclear arsenals and the increased military budget of the major powers.
More specifically, we denounce, in the text, that “the United States maintain 865 military bases in approximately 130 countries, where 350,000 soldiers are equipped with the most advanced weapons, warplanes, missiles and warships. That represents 95% of all foreign military bases in the world and includes US bases on all continents and regions. “
In addition, we denounce that the “hegemonic powers still threaten life on the planet with their nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction installed in US-NATO military bases”, reaffirming the urgency and necessity of our fight against the two threats.
We are sure that the US goal is to loot and control the natural resources of the countries, as well as to intimidate the peoples and to insure governments submissive to imperialism.
That is why we must continue to denounce the US military base in Guantanamo in 1903 and the imposition of the Platt Amendment, through which the empire has promoted its policy of domination of Latin America and the Caribbean, extended to all the world.
Throughout the 20th century, the interventionist policy of US imperialism has destroyed the democracies being born to implant on the continent, through coups, the military dictatorships and state terrorism. Tools of this policy were coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) and other instruments, such as the School of the Americas and Operation Condor, which promoted the torture and murder of thousands and thousands of Latin American patriots and revolutionaries.
That is why, from Guantanamo, we meet to reaffirm our resolute opposition to these expressions and these outposts throughout the world, from Malvinas to Japan, from Guantánamo to Djibouti – which finds itself on an African continent already devastated by imperialist and neocolonialist wars.
The installation of new military bases and the opening of other “Forward Operating Locations” (FOL) in Central America, the Caribbean Sea and South America and, since 2008, the resumption of the Fourth US Naval Fleet in the South Atlantic are pieces of the same game.
The USA and the allied national oligarchies in Latin America are in full offensive to impose reactionary and conservative policies in the region. In this context, the US has reached the agreement of Argentina, since governed by Mauricio Macri, for the installation of two new military bases, one in Ushuaia and one in the triple border with Paraguay and Brazil, near the vast Guarani Aquifer.
In Brazil, whose current illegitimate government is dominated by a coup plot – against democracy and the country – Michel Temer seeks to resume negotiations with the United States for the concession of Alcantara space base, not only contributing to the expansion of US military presence in the region as well as selling Brazilian sovereignty and its autonomy over its space program, which would be subject to US interests.
The USA has also expanded their presence in Central America, creating a “special unit” at the military base of Palmerola, Honduras: the Soto Cano Air Base, which has approximately 600 US troops and the Joint Task Force “Bravo” of the US Southern Command, under the pretext of promoting security and humanitarian cooperation throughout Central and South America. The history of this Task Force dates back to the 1980s, when the US supported the Nicaraguan Contras and the forces behind the genocide in Guatemala, for example, in addition to the support for the coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
There are few countries in South and Central America that can be said to be free of the foreign military presence in their territories. In addition to US military attachés present in all countries – at least one in each – there are foreign bases in the occupied Malvinas (NATO), Colombia (US), Chile, French Guiana, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Guantanamo, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadalupe, Honduras, Jamaica and Martinique (NATO), Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, among others.
According to Argentinean researcher Atílio Borón – recently offended by Mexican immigration authorities at the behest of the United States when visiting Mexico – there are almost 80 US military bases installed in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to Borón, Peru is the country with the most US military bases in the continent (nine) and the only one that has authorized the US Fourth Fleet to use three ports to refuel.
In Colombia, in turn, there are seven US military bases, which also have the right to use all the others. The researcher points out that Brazil is the most surrounded, by 25 military bases in neighboring countries, including those of the United Kingdom, but used by the United States, on the Ascension and Malvinas Islands (near the vast Brazilian oil field).
Hence the importance of our persistent meetings in Guantánamo, which has 117 km² of its territory usurped by the US naval base, where there is also against the Cuban people’s will – a center of torture still holding about 40 people, “suspects”, they say, of involvement in terrorist networks.
In resolute solidarity with the Cuban people, we reiterate, firmly, the irreducible demand for the withdrawal of the US military base and center of torture from Guantanamo, which for more than a century has seen its sovereignty violated by imperialism. This and all regional threat policies go counter the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace in 2012 by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The proclamation establishes the principle that peace is a supreme good and a legitimate desire of all peoples. This reflects the conscience of the leaders of Our America that their preservation is a substantial element of regional integration, a common value and principle of CELAC, a condition for development and social progress and even the condition for the humanity’s survival.
Once again, the dissemination of the empire’s military bases around the world is the inverse expression of this effort.
We live in a period of an unprecedented and generalized threat of war, in which many peoples have experienced the tragedy of aggression, military intervention, invasions and imperialist wars in the Middle East and Africa, where millions of victims of the worst atrocities seek to escape only to throw themselves on precarious and risky journeys or refugee camps to await the “blessing” of countries that should welcome and protect them, in accordance with their commitments and in accordance with the principles that guide the relations between peoples, countries often responsible for their ordeal.
As MovPaz pointed out in its call for this seminar, we strengthen our struggle in a time of aggravated threats at regional and international level. The militarization of the planet, the construction of new conventional and nuclear weapons, the installation of US anti-missile systems and annual military exercises in the Korean Peninsula region – also more threatened by the US offensive position, as we have been denouncing – and the expansion of NATO or the implementation of a US military strategy to Asia have been intensifying.
At the same time, provocations against Russia have instigated new sources of conflict in Eastern Europe while Syria, which is devastated but resistant, enters its sixth year of war, where imperialist interference and the advance of terrorist groups strengthened by US and its allies’ regional destabilization have killed thousands of people and forced millions to flee.
We also cannot overlook the US military base in Djibouti, East Africa, one of the Pentagon’s largest structures of this type, established there in 2001 under the pretext of fightinng terrorism. Djibouti, whose population is less than one million, is inhabited by at least six groups of foreign forces – the United States, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and France, the former colonial power. From the base Camp Lemonnier, formerly used by the French Foreign Legion and where today the United States keeps about 4,000 troops, operations are being carried out in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa – for example, drone attacks in Yemen and other covert operations, according to Western media.
In Japan, with more than 80 bases and other military facilities in the United States, the Okinawa islanders’ demonstrations showed that it is possible to defeat this threat. One-fifth of its territory was under US military control, where nearly half of the 50,000 US troops are deployed, but the United States has finally returned more than four thousand hectares to the Japanese town due to the protests. The struggle is ongoing, however, since Japan is seen as an essential “part” in the US geostrategic interests in Asia.
We must also continue to denounce the spread of these outposts of imperialism in Europe, where the bases of the United States and NATO are abundant, harboring even dozens of US nuclear weapons, through the nuclear exchange program in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Germany, while the belligerent alliance continues to advance towards the Russian border under pretext of “ensuring the security” of the continent. In addition, the recent US bombing of Syria, in clear violation of international law, used these European bases.
All this adds up, as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) points out, to the amount of $ 209.7 billion profited by US arms companies in 2015, when the country also spent $ 595,000 millions in the military sector – more than double China’s spending of $ 215 billion.
We need to continue informing that the maintenance of a generalized threat by US imperialism, self-appointed the role of world police, is costly to its victims, to the nations it devastates or destabilizes and peoples around the world, because it perpetuates a belligerent logic of violation of national sovereignties, interference in the internal affairs of nations, swelling spending on war as peoples struggle for peace, development and progress of humanity.
Therefore, the permanent struggle of the World Peace Council and other peace movements is strengthened in solidarity among peoples and in firm resistance to the threats of the empire. In defense of sovereignty and resolute, determined rejection of the dissemination of foreign military bases throughout the planet, we reject an imperialist order of threat and bullying, blackmail, looting and destabilization.
To thank once again the Cuban organizations that created the conditions for the success of this event, we salute the heroic Cuban people and their leaders, who participate in the struggle against the blockade, in enormous efforts for the economic progress of the country, in defense of the social accomplishments of their Revolution, and the progress of their system of government and model of economic and social development.
On this occasion, when we raise our voices against the military bases, these spearheads of war and the interventionist policy of imperialism in the world, we also express our solidarity with the Venezuelan people, attacked by the obscure and violent forces, and their threatened Bolivarian Revolution, a bastion of peace, of the integration of peoples and the struggle for sovereignty in Latin America.
The peoples, united, will defeat the war machines and outposts of imperialism, in their struggle for justice, freedom and peace.
End foreign military bases and imperialism!