Guantánamo Public Memory Project

Archive: October 2012

Overcoming the Silence Surrounding Guantánamo

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On November 13, 2001 President Bush issued a military order that would forever change the socio-political landscape of Guantánamo Bay and determine the fate of detainees throughout and beyond the War on Terror. Titled “Detention, Treatment and Trail of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism,” this act disregarded the role of international and domestic…

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The Gap Between American Ideals and Actions

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  The gross treatment of Haitians in Guantánamo remains an appalling chapter of the site’s history. It featured everything that goes against American ideals. The fact that the United States has continuously exploited the legal black hole of Guantánamo is perplexing – why would a country that espouses liberty and freedom treat people so inhumanely?…

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A Future Without a Past?

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I remember hearing this episode of This American Life when I was in high school, in 2009. However it was not until I came across its transcription in the Guantánamo Public Memory Project files that I recalled any of its content. As I re-listen to it, I recall the sense of utter hopelessness I felt as…

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Growing up at Guantánamo

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I was unaware of the history of Guantánamo Bay before starting this project; I had only heard of its modern status as a detainment camp.  I was surprised to learn about its past history as a military base and of the families that lived on the base for many years.  It was a community and…

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Difference between Enemy Combatants and Prisoners of War

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After the Spanish-American War, in 1903 the U.S. leased Guantánamo Bay, 45 square miles, from Cuba. The U.S. used Guantánamo Bay as a naval station.  After the September 11, 2001 attack, the U.S. declared a “War on Terror.”  The war on terrorism was a worldwide effort. The main targets were Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  The U.S.…

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States of Exception: Not Exceptional

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Guantánamo exists as a “state of exception” which has legitimated extraordinary policies, practices, executive measures, and laws since the US signed the lease agreement with Cuba in 1903. The lease gives Cuba sovereignty but grants the United States absolute jurisdiction over the land. This lease can only be revoked if both countries, namely the U.S.,…

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The Spanish-Cuban-American War

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Beginning in 1895, Cuban revolutionaries began a war against Spain, their colonial power, in an attempt to become an independent nation. After having organized a new government, written a new constitution, and brought Spain to the brink of defeat, Cuba welcomed the United States’ entrance into the war on the revolutionary side in 1898. Together,…

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An American Concentration Camp

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Concentration camp: A camp where persons (as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined; Internment center by a government to confine political prisoners or members of national or minority groups for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment. Concentration camps in the Western world, I thought, were sites of human rights…

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The Historical Production of Silence at Guantánamo

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It is perhaps fitting that this post is being written on the day memorialized as the “discovery” of the New World by Christopher Columbus. The celebration of Columbus’ landing has less to do with historical truth and is, instead, an essential cornerstone in the construction of the narrative of American exceptionalism. Haitian scholar Michael-Rolph Trouillot,…

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Longing for Home

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  My first memories of Guantánamo are from the Haitian refugee crisis in the 1990s. As a kid I imagined how those people must have felt searching for a better life in the United States only to be held at this military base, uncertain of when they would be released. At that time I was…

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Creative: Picture Projects & Tronvig Group