American criticism of Cuba on human rights is total hypocrisy, given our history of terrorizing the island – Salon

 In World
Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died this week at age 90. The former Cuban president, known as El Comandante, survived 10 U.S. presidential administrations — and reportedly also survived hundreds of assassination attempts by the CIA.

Many in the U.S. government criticized the socialist leader and the Republic of Cuba he helped establish after a 1959 revolution against a U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship. President-elect Donald Trump, a far-right demagogue with authoritarian proclivities, dismissed Castro as a “brutal dictator,” days before proposing that Americans have their citizenship revoked for exercising their constitutional right to burn the U.S. flag as a protest.

In February, as the U.S. government eased some of its harsh sanctions against the island nation, President Barack Obama condemned Cuba’s human rights record. “America will always stand for human rights around the world,” he insisted.

This is already ludicrous to hear from the leader of a country that is currently bombing six Muslim-majority countries, and helping to grind impoverished, hunger-stricken Yemen into dust; a superpower that imprisons the most people in the world; a nation that forces refugees and migrants into privatized, for-profit, internment camp-like detention centers and deports millions of them; a country that props up brutal dictatorships in the Gulf and beyond; a nation where unarmed black people are repeatedly killed by police and indigenous water protectors are brutalized.

Yet hypocrisy of the U.S. criticizing Cuba for human rights is even harder to grasp when one considers that the part of Cuba with the worst human rights practices is in fact the part controlled by the U.S.

At the Guantánamo Bay naval base, the U.S. has imprisoned hundreds of people without trial; many have been tortured. President Obama pledged countless times to close it; he campaigned in 2008 on such a promise. Yet it remains open — many of its former prisoners released, but still open nonetheless.

The Cuban government considers the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay to be illegally occupied. The U.S. considers Guantánamo its rightful property; after all, the U.S. seized it when it turned Cuba from a Spanish colony into a de facto U.S. colony after the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Torture is by no means the only human rights abuse committed on this soil, nor are U.S. crimes only relegated to the post-9/11 period. In the early 1990s, Guantánamo Bay was used to detain Haitian refugees who had fled the CIA-backed coup regime in their own impoverished country. The administrations of both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton used the HIV/AIDS scare to justify forcing thousands of desperate Haitians into what a U.S. federal judge described as a squalid “HIV prison camp.”

The evident contradiction of American politicians making such moralistic pronouncements is further compounded by the history of literal U.S.-backed terrorism in Cuba.

As Salon detailed in a previous story, the U.S. has terrorized Cuba for more than 50 years, since Castro led the revolution that freed his country from the yolk of American imperialism. Scholar Noam Chomsky has called U.S. policy in Cuba a “terrorist campaign” and a decades-long “murderous terrorist war.” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Garry Wills wrote in The New York Times in 1978 of the U.S. “campaign of terror and sabotage directed against Castro.” Even celebrated establishment historian Arthur Schlesinger, who advised John and Robert Kennedy, spoke of the U.S. attempt to unleash “the terrors of the earth” on post-revolutionary Cuba.

The U.S. launched a military invasion of Cuba in 1961, attempting to violently overthrow a government that it admitted was very popular, killing and wounding hundreds of Cubans, even thousands according to some estimates.

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