Friday, August 31, 2007

Bay of Pigs Museum and Library (Part 1)

Eye on Miami has been keeping its eye (duh) on recent developments of the future Bay of Pigs Museum and Library. Its a project that's been in development since 2005, but has only recently been getting some attention mainly due to the possibility of its future home: downtown by the ever disappearing public waterfront.

The consensus by readers of Eye on Miami seems to be that the museum in downtown is a mismatch, where instead it can have far more historical significance in an area that shares its greater historical message, such as inside the Freedom Tower, in Little Havana, or in the city of Hialeah that also boasts a large Cuban community. Planners of the museum are currently looking at a piece of land (called Parcel B) nestled between a sports arena and a proposed waterfront park that already includes two museums.

Last year, the waterfront park was unveiled to the public showing plenty of green area, public access to the waterfront, and a soccer field (in Parcel B). Now, the soccer field seems to have been replaced by the plans of the Bay of Pigs museum (or as Chisholm Architects titled it: "The Cuban Exile Museum and Library"). Eye on Miami reports that the plans go before the Miami-Dade County Commission on September 4th in preparation for a conceptual study. Blogger "Genius of Despair" describes the plans as "on the track" and "gaining steam."

I'm not opposed to the idea of the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library, but I am concerned about its historical message, aside from concerns about its poor choice of location.

The Bay of Pigs is uncontroversially and historically acknowledged as a US-sponsored "invasion" aimed at the overthrow of the Cuban government in 1961. According to sociology professor Juan Clark (who's on the Board of Advisors to the Bay of Pigs museum), the main goal was "to overthrow the growing communism led by Fidel Castro who was imposing a rigid totalitarian system" on Cuba. Notice that the United States planned an invasion to overthrow a government based on prevention (of "growing communism"), NOT self-defense. In this case, the UN Charter (signed and ratified by the US in 1945) specifically dictates (in Chapter 7) that "[t]he Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security."

The US not only violated the UN Charter, but also customary international law which had already labeled military acts as aggression if they were not based on self-defense. A "war of aggression" (like the Bay of Pigs invasion) was a definition already agreed upon at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949). Benjamin B. Ferencz, one of the chief prosecutors at Nuremberg, summarized it this way:

"[A]s Nuremberg showed, differences of race, religion or ideology cannot be tolerated as valid grounds for destroying those who happen to be different. It is NOT permissible 'self-defense' to slaughter 'the other'—it is the crime of murder. Aggression, according to the Nuremberg judges and other precedents, is 'the supreme international crime' since it includes all the other crimes. There can be no war without atrocities, and unauthorized warfare in violation of the UN Charter is the biggest atrocity of all."

But, according to those who are on the Board of Advisors, it seems very likely that this important lesson will go ignored.

[Part 2]

1 comment:

leftside said...

Yes, a memorial and museum to a war crime. Only in Miami.