Of course, Castro built a police state for perpetuity, if one takes half a century to be virtually perpetual. Nearly 60 years before Castro’s ascension to power, Cuba had, with the crucial assistance of the U.S., freed itself from Spain and was put under a dependency relationship with America. Washington then secured by treaty what became the highly important naval base of Guantanamo in perpetuity—but for a rental fee of $2000 in gold per annum. (See an article, “How We Got Guantanamo,” in the February 1962 issue of American Heritage.) Today this comes to less than two ounces of bullion. A bargain.
Guantanamo certainly had been counted an asset during Washington strategic discussions of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. But, more to the point, the very naming of it by candidate Obama at campaign rallies became occasions for the crowds to cheer or boo, depending on the sentence structure of the would-be president’s promise to shut it down.
Second only to Abu Ghraib, if indeed second to anything at all, Guantanamo became America’s badge of shame. Inmates had been tortured there. Inmates couldn’t get adequate legal assistance there. (This turned out to be a phony issue, as Wall Street and Washington law firms trooped to do pro bono work for the terrorists.) “Shut it down,” was one refrain. And the aspirant to the White House promised to shut it down. And to shut it down by January 1, 2010.