Guantánamo Public Memory Project

How Much is Enough?


Inmates, Guards at Camp X-Ray. Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Owned and Provided by Miami Herald. Photographer Unknown.

How much is it going to cost the United States to continue to imprison individuals at Guantánamo Bay? How long are going to keep Guantánamo Bay open? How many more are going to be imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay?

These are three questions I urge all of you think about as we look at the overall cost that periodically surfaces regarding Guantánamo Bay. This seems to be in issue at hand where the United States, particularly around election year, and becomes the center of attention on closing this base. With 11 different universities working on this project, one begs the question, when will a decision be made to finally close this base? Currently, there are 68 prisoners still at Guantánamo Bay. The average cost of these 68 prisoners is $786,516 per year. The cost for these inmates needs to be addressed by the United States and we need to take action and close Guantánamo Bay.

The United States has leased this naval base for almost 110 years but this old naval base was converted into a prison camp in 2002. 779 prisoners have visited this camp since the opening. Camp X-Ray was the first place prisoners went when they were captured. All of these prisoners were denied prisoner of war status, and they have no rights to see lawyers or even their own families. This is a legal limbo and the challenge is what kind of judicial process these inmates would receive. This undermines the Geneva Convention that does protect prisoners of war. Now, the United States has done such things as rewarding individuals with food due to their ethnic background, provided they give specific information. This is one idea that the general population does not see on television. However, having prisoners due to the war on terror sitting in a system without an actual process is the concerning item at hand. How much longer are we going to keep Guantánamo Bay open and when are we going to give this land back to the people of Cuba? Maybe never. We need to understand as a society why these individuals are there, and not just because they are prisoners of war. This is costing us as taxpayers a large sum annually. When will a decision be made? Hopefully with our due diligence, we as university students can help to change the outcome of Guantánamo Bay in the near future. Educating the public on what has occurred and why it still remains open will be an enlightening experience as this exhibit travels around the country. In the next 110 years this will become a history lesson and not a discussion on when we will close Guantánamo Bay. I believe that these individuals have the right to a fair trial and to not be kept in a place of isolation far away from other individuals to see and hear what is actually occurring behind fences. If we are going to continue to pay $786,586 for these prisoners we should understand why they are there and when the judicial process will be completed.

Posted by Terrell Jacobs – From University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is participating in the Guantánamo Public Memory Project‘s National Dialogue and Traveling Exhibit. Opening at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life Windows Gallery in December 2012 and traveling to 9 sites (and counting) across the country through at least 2014, the exhibit will explore GTMO’s history from US occupation in 1898 to today’s debates and visions for its future. The exhibit is being developed through a unique collaboration among a growing number of universities as a dialogue among their students, communities, and people with first-hand experience at GTMO.


Creative: Picture Projects & Tronvig Group