Advertisement

Guantánamo 2.0: Transforming Gitmo into a Peace Park and Ecological Research Center

  • Joe Roman
Chapter
Part of the Landscape Series book series (LAEC, volume 25)

Abstract

Cuba has a long history of environmental protection, with a network of more than 250 national parks and protected areas, and relatively high levels of fish biomass and marine biodiversity in marine parks that are unparalleled in the Caribbean. There is concern that the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba might reverse the country’s advances in ecological conservation. In this chapter, I propose an approach to protect Cuba’s coastal ecosystems and enhance conservation and ecological research throughout the Caribbean. After helping Cuba fight for independence from Spain, the United States occupied the island in 1898. As part of the Cuban-American Treaty, which granted Cuba independence in 1902, the new country was required to rent Guantánamo Bay to the United States as a coaling and naval station, a perpetual lease that could be broken only by mutual consent. The present U.S. policy is that withdrawal from the base is not an option. Cuba insists on an unconditional return of the land as part of normalization. There is a third path that would benefit Cuba, the United States, and the rest of the world. Once the military prison at U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay is closed, the entire base should be repurposed into a state-of-the-art research institution and peace park, a conservation zone to help resolve conflicts between the two countries. A first step in returning the land to Cuba, this model could unite both nations in joint management, rather than serve as a wedge between them. By bringing together Cuban, U.S., and international scientists, artists, and scholars, Guantánamo could help all countries meet the challenges of climate change, mass extinction, and declining coral reefs.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Todd R. Lookingbill and Peter D. Smallwood for encouraging me to submit this chapter. Many of the ideas were developed with James Kraska for our 2016 article, “Reboot Gitmo for U.S. Cuba research diplomacy,” in Science. Influential early reviewers include Dan Whittle, Paul Kramer, and my steadfast editor, Debora Greger. Dave Hampton created images and helped envision the transition from base to park. David Birkin, Gillian Galford, Gillian Pirolli, and Sam Grubinger helped with figures, and David Evans provided background information. The Gund Institute for Environment, Paul Lattanzio, and Allison and Winthrop Pescosolido provided financial support.

References

  1. Adayfi, M. (2017). In our prison on the sea. The New York Times, 15 September.Google Scholar
  2. Alberts, A. C., Grant, T. D., Gerber, G. P., Comer, K. E., Tolson, P. J., Lemm, J. M., & Boyer, D. (2001). Critical reptile species management on the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Report to the United States Navy for Project No. 62470-00-5219.Google Scholar
  3. Alongi, D. M. (2002). Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environmental Conservation, 29, 331–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Binder, D. (1977, 30 August). Naval and civilian aides see Guantanamo base as declining asset. New York Times.Google Scholar
  5. Bruck, C. (2016). Why Obama has failed to close Guantánamo. The New Yorker, 8 August.Google Scholar
  6. Bustamente, G., Chiappone, M., Kelly, J. C., Lowe, A., & Sealey, K. S. (2000). Fish and fisheries in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: Recommendations for their protection. Proceedings of the 51st Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, 50, 242–257.Google Scholar
  7. Chemnick, J. (2016). The plan to shut Gitmo and turn it into a climate research lab. Climatewire, 18 March.Google Scholar
  8. Chiappone, M., Sullivan-Sealy, K., Bustamante, G., & Tschirky, J. (2001). A rapid assessment of coral reef community structure and diversity patterns at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Bulletin of Marine Science, 69, 373–394.Google Scholar
  9. Cohn, J. P. (1996). New defenders of wildlife. Bioscience, 46, 11–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cushman, Jr. J. H. (1994). U.S. force and Haitian refugees: A nervous wait. New York Times, 22 July.Google Scholar
  11. Day, M., & Tolson, P. J. (1996). Chilabothrus angulifer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1996: e.T7815A12852846.Google Scholar
  12. Department of the Navy. (2006). Seasonality and distribution of marine life at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) and in the Guantanamo Operating Area (OPEREA), Norfolk, VA.Google Scholar
  13. Fink, S. (2016). Where even nightmares are classified: Psychiatric care at Guantánamo. New York Times, 12 November.Google Scholar
  14. Gerber, G. P., & Iverson, J. B. (2000). Turks and Caicos iguana, Cyclura carinata carinata. In A. C. Alberts (Ed.), West Indian iguanas: Status survey and conservation action plan (pp. 15–18). Gland: IUCN – the World Conservation Union.Google Scholar
  15. Gopnik, A. (2015). Trollope trending. The New Yorker, 4 May.Google Scholar
  16. Havana Times. (2015, 29 August). CELAC calls for US-Cuba dialogue to include return of Guantánamo.Google Scholar
  17. Holpuch, A. (2015). US says future of Guantánamo Bay is not on the table in Cuba talks. The Guardian, 4 February.Google Scholar
  18. Honigsberg, P. J. (2009). Our nation unhinged: The human consequences of the war on terror. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hotez, P. J. (2008). Reinventing Guantánamo: From detainee facility to center for research on neglected diseases of poverty in the Americas. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2, e201.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000201.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Human Rights Watch. (2016). Guantanamo, facts and figures. https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2017/03/30/guantanamo-facts-and-figures
  21. Hunter, M. E., Meigs-Friend, G., Ferrante, J. A., Kamla, C. T., Dorazio, R. M., Diage, L. K., Luna, F., Lanyon, J. M., & Read, J. P. (2018). Surveys of environmental DNA (eDNA): A new approach to estimate occurrence in vulnerable manatee populations. Endangered Species Research, 35, 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. King, F. W., Campbell, H. W., & Moler, P. E. (1982). Review of the status of the American crocodile. In Proceedings of the 5th working meeting of the crocodile specialist group of the species survival commission of the international union for conservation of nature and natural resources convened at the Florida State Museum, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A, 12 to 16 August 1980.Google Scholar
  23. Kolbert, E. (2016). Guantánamo: From prison to marine conservation peace park? The New Yorker, 17 March.Google Scholar
  24. Kramer, P. (2013). A useful corner of the world: Guantánamo. The New Yorker, 30 July.Google Scholar
  25. Lehnert, M. (2015). I helped create Gitmo. Now I want it shut down. Politico, 11 January.Google Scholar
  26. Liptak, K. (2016). Obama tells Raul Castro: Cuban embargo is going to end. CNN, 21 March.Google Scholar
  27. Lodge, H. C. (1895). Our blundering foreign policy. Forum, 8–17 March.Google Scholar
  28. Matamoros, Y., Dulon, E. P., & Seal, U. (1997). Cuban conservation assessment and management plan report. Conservation Breeding Specialist Group Newsletter, 8(1), 14–15.Google Scholar
  29. Milián-García, Y., Ramos-Targarona, R., Pérez-Fleitas, E., Sosa-Rodríguez, G., Guerra-Manchena, L., Alonso-Tabet, M., Espinosa-López, G., & Rusello, M. A. (2015). Genetic evidence of hybridization between the critically endangered Cuban crocodile and the American crocodile: Implications for population history and in situ/ex situ conservation. Heredity, 114, 272–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miroff, N. (2015). Why the U.S. base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay is probably doomed. Washington Post, 15 May.Google Scholar
  31. Moberg, F., & Folke, C. (1999). Ecological goods and services of coral reef ecosystems. Ecological Economics, 29, 215–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Moore, M. (1990). Navy puts 94 bases on hit list. Washington Post, 25 April.Google Scholar
  33. New York Times. (2018, May). The Guantánamo Docket. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo
  34. Newman, M. J. H., Paredes, G., Sala, E., & Jackson, J. B. C. (2006). Structure of Caribbean coral reef communities across a large gradient of fish biomass. Ecology Letters, 9, 1216–1227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Orth, R. J., Carruthers, T. J. B., Dennison, W. C., et al. (2006). A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. Bioscience, 56, 987–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pinchot, G. (1947). Breaking new ground. New York: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  37. Pope Francis. (2015). Laudato Si’: Encyclic letter on care for our common home. Rome: Vatican Press.Google Scholar
  38. Risk, M. J., Burchell, M., Brunton, D. A., & McCord, M. R. (2014). Health of the coral reefs at the US Navy Base, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: A preliminary report based on isotopic records from gorgonians. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 83, 282–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rodríguez Milán, Y. (2016). Scanning Guantanamo: Caimanera. On Cuba: https://oncubamagazinecom/especiales/scanning-guantanamo/Google Scholar
  40. Roman, J. (2018). The ecology and conservation of Cuba’s coastal and marine ecosystems. Bulletin of Marine Science, 94, 149–169.Google Scholar
  41. Roman, J., & Kraska, J. (2016). Reboot Gitmo for U.S.-Cuba research diplomacy. Science, 351, 1258–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosenberg, C. (2016). Guards and staff outnumber captives 33 to 1 at Guantánamo prison. Miami Herald, 25 August.Google Scholar
  43. Schwab, S. I. M. (2009). Guantánamo, USA: The untold history of America’s Cuban outpost. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  44. Sedaghatkish, G., & Roca, E. (Eds.). (1999). Rapid ecological assessment: U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay Cuba. Arlington: The Nature Conservancy.Google Scholar
  45. Snider, A. (2011). Outside Guantanamo’s Prisons, ‘it’s really a biologist’s dream.’ New York Times, June 17.Google Scholar
  46. Stavridis, J. (2015). Reimagining Guantanamo Bay. Huffington Post, 9 March.Google Scholar
  47. Stone, R. (2015). In from the cold. Science, 348, 746–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Terry, A., Ullrich, K., & Riecken, U. (2006). The green belt of Europe—From vision to reality. Glandt/Cambridge: IUCN.Google Scholar
  49. Toobin, J. (2008). Camp justice. The New Yorker, 14 April.Google Scholar
  50. Waycott, M., et al. (2009). Accelerating loss of seagrasses across the globe threatens coastal ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 12377–12381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Whittle, D. J., & Rey Santos, O. (2006). Protecting Cuba’s environment: Efforts to design and implement effective environmental laws and policies in Cuba. Cuban Studies, 37, 73–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Witmer, G. W., & Lowney, M. (2007). Population biology and monitoring of the Cuban hutia at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mammalia, 71, 115–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Woods, C. A. (1989). The biogeography of West Indian rodents. In C. A. Woods (Ed.), Biogeography of the West Indies: Past, present, and future (pp. 741–798). Gainesville: Sandhill Crane Press.Google Scholar
  54. Woods, C. A., & Eisenberg, J. F. (1989). The land mammals of Madagascar and the Greater Antilles: Comparison and analysis. In C. A. Woods (Ed.), Biogeography of the West Indies: Past, present, and future (pp. 799–826). Gainesville: Sandhill Crane Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joe Roman
    • 1
  1. 1.Gund Institute for Environment, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations