Overlooking Guantánamo

Stephen Benz at The NER:

In such circumstances, the “Guantánamo Blues” that the anonymous writer struggled with in the 1930s became all the more acute. Visiting journalists in the 1960s and 1970s reported on racial tensions, drug and alcohol problems, and occasional violence. According to a 1973 article in Esquire, “Guantánamo is a good place to become an alcoholic. During the last twelve months gin has been the leading seller at the base Mini-Mart, with vodka a close second.”

A strange place to begin with, Gitmo became even stranger during the Cold War period, given that it was a US military facility on the sovereign territory of a country aligned with the Soviet bloc. By the time I stood at the Malones Lookout in 1998, with the Cold War supposedly a thing of the past, Gitmo seemed like a weird anachronism of both neo-colonialism and the Cold War. My opinion at the time was that Guantánamo was outdated and unnecessary; keeping it seemed counterproductive, and returning it to Cuba seemed like the right thing to do. I had said as much in some of my conversations with Cubans. In fact, I had told many of my interlocutors that I had a gut feeling President Clinton was going to normalize relations with Cuba and begin the process of returning Guantánamo before he left office in two years’ time.

more here.