Guantanamo: What I Knew was Scant and False
By Leslie Becerra (2/18/14)
Editor’s Note: This is one of many student papers written in response to the Close Guantanamo Now! National Tour’s Last Stop at Cal Poly Pomona on January 17, 2014. Reprinted by author’s permission.
When 9/11 happened I was only eight years old and unable to understand what exactly it meant. I don’t remember much about where I was when I saw the news or whom I was with but I do remember when the war began. There is an image that has always stuck with me about the war. I was watching the news in my mother’s room one night when the broadcast was suddenly interrupted by the news and behind the anchor in a big screen played live images of the first bomb being dropped in Iraq. It’s been that image that I think of when anyone mentions 9/11, until recently. As my education has progressed I have learned more and more about what 9/11 did for this country. Those events brought our entire nation together in solidarity for those who lost their lives and their families but it also did something horrible. The events of 9/11 made our nation hate and fear an entire group of people for no real reason. Due to the government and the media’s manipulation of events we all began to think of American lives as more valuable than the lives of these people. It is that very belief that allowed our government to commit atrocities against other humans without anyone putting into question their motives.
The talk given at Cal Poly Pomona in regards to the closure of Guantanamo Bay made three very important points. One, Obama has been lying to the nation from the moment he took office by blaming Congress for the continued use of Guantanamo. Two, the responsibility to make sure Guantanamo Bay is closed does not only rely on Obama and our government but it also relies on us as a people. Finally, the talk made me realize that the information that was given to me about such facility was very scarce and the very little that I had was false.
I want to speak on the first point made by the talk, Obama and his real intentions. From the beginning of his campaign Obama sold himself as a president of the people and for the people. He stated that if made president he would seek to close Guantanamo Bay and free those detained there but a year into his second term Guantanamo Bay remains open. Why? Well, according to the President of the United States, we are to blame Congress. Despite the many requests for the complete closure of Guantanamo Bay Congress has decided to keep it open. Although Congress may have an interest in keeping Guantanamo Bay open we can easily place the blame on Obama. Again, why?
As commander in chief Obama, our president, has the power to order the closure of Guantanamo Bay with or without the approval of Congress. So the real reason behind Guantanamo Bay keeping its doors open over 10 years later is because Obama does not want to shut it down. He has the power to free the detainees yet has chosen not to use it and instead closed down the office responsible for transmitting the releases. This is one of the most important points made during the talk, if not the most important, because it is an example of how our government no longer has the people’s interest in mind but rather its own personal gain.
We live in a country whose people are taught that the government governs with our best interest at hand but how often is that true? In whose interests is it to maintain Guantanamo Bay open? Because it is not in any human’s interests to allow any government to do what our government has been doing to these people. We are all human beings therefore our lives are all equally valuable. If we continue to allow our government to act as they please and ignore our requests we will have no guarantee that they won’t do the same to us. Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay shows how the people who run our government are no longer the common day civilian but rather those few with power and money. Capitalism has allowed for money and corporations to have a say in what our government does thus the people’s best interest gets ignored. It is because of such reason that we must take responsibility to get Guantanamo Bay closed.
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