Cuba will host the Convocation of the VII International Seminar for Peace and for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases from May 4‒6 in Guantánamo City in Guantánamo, the country’s easternmost province.
The two-day conference will bring together peace activists and friends of Cuba and is preparatory to a global meeting scheduled for this year in Hanoi.
The conference is calling for the removal of United States military bases from foreign countries, an end to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and global arms race.
The conference is especially timely given Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine. While Russia is to be condemned, its concerns about NATO expansionism are legitimate.
The conference gives expression to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace approved by all the heads of state and government of the region who met at the 2014 summit of Latin American and Caribbean states in Cuba’s capital Havana.
The proclamation enshrines a commitment by the region’s states not to intervene — directly or indirectly — in each other’s internal affairs and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples. The proclamation also reiterates the urgent need for general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Conference delegates will visit Caimanera, a small town on the edge of Guantánamo, in direct view of the US Guantánamo Bay detention centre and military base. The US has occupied the Guantánamo Bay site since 1903. It is the oldest overseas US naval base and its ongoing presence on Cuban soil causes much resentment among the Cuban people.
This year, a group of United Nations experts described the facility as “a site of unparalleled notoriety, defined by the systematic use of torture, and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment against hundreds of men brought to the site and deprived of their most fundamental rights”.
“For 119 years the US government has illegally maintained, against the will of the Cuban people and government, a naval base that has become a centre of torture of prisoners in total violation of their human rights,” says the conference call.
The conference takes place at a time when the US and NATO are expanding their field of influence in Latin America.
In January, Colombia became the third Latin American country to be designated as a “major non-NATO ally” (MNNA) by the US.
Since 2000, Colombia has received nearly US$10 billion in aid — ostensibly to fight Colombia’s war on drugs — under Plan Colombia. However, most of that money has gone to the country's security forces, which have been implicated in numerous extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate shootings of unarmed civilians.
Brazil and Argentina have also received MNNA designation.
MNNA designation doesn’t provide the same security guarantees as a NATO member but it enhances the opportunities for the US to forge military alliances with the three Latin American countries.
In February, Cuba's efforts for world peace were recognised by the World Peace Council (WPC). WPC executive secretary Iraklis Tsavdaridis praised the country for its firm and tireless support for the WPC’s efforts against militarisation and war.
Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, recently reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the WPC. Organisations and movements from more than 90 countries participate in the anti-imperialist, non-aligned organisation, which is based in Athens, Greece.