Most american are more than likely somewhat mindful that joined States federal government controls an area that Cuba referred to as Guantanamo Bay. And I would certainly wager the most human being reading this post got most of their "GITMO" knowledge thanks come the standard 1992 Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson movie, "A couple of Good Men." i would further wager that an ext than a couple of of you readers think the Guantanamo only is a exclusive island off the coast of Cuba that we somehow commandeered 100 years ago. But that"s no correct.

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Guantanamo just Naval basic is a 46.8 square mile area the land and water located on the far eastern next of Cuba"s mainland. Right across the water from Haiti, a tiny north the Jamaica. Because that perspective, that"s the same specific size of mountain Francisco.

Here"s a map:


That would be one unfathomable reality, yet that"s the fact that has existed in Cuba for decades.

So, exactly how did it pertained to be the the United says took control of Guantanamo only in the an initial place?

The background of Guantanamo Bay

The background of Guantanamo Bay predates the United states of America itself. In 1494, Christopher Columbus docked his delivery in Guantanamo Bay throughout his 2nd voyage come the new World. Columbus was on what would revolve out to be an unsuccessful search because that gold.

The protected bay easily became first a safe haven for pirates and, lot later, for the brothers Navy.

It wasn"t until over 400 hundred years later, throughout the Spanish-American war in 1898, when a US maritime battalion, 647 strong, landing at Guantanamo Bay and also captured 7,000 Spanish troops. Similar to the brother Navy before it, the U.S. Navy uncovered the Cuban bay"s protected waters fairly useful. Throughout this battle, the U.S. Effectively seized the land and also water that Guantanamo Bay. A couple of years later, in the treaty of 1902, they do it official when the Cuban government agreed to lease areas roughly Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. For usage as a naval base.

Rental Agreement

The treaty to be signed by president Theodore Roosevelt and allowed the U.S. To assist defend Cuba v a "coaling and naval station" to be developed on the site.

A crucial element of the contract was providing the United says "complete jurisdiction and control over and also within said areas." The only constraints the Cuban federal government put top top the United states in regards to Guantanamo just were that the area be used only together a coaling and naval station, and also vessels involved in trade with Cuba would retain totally free passage with the bay included by the site.

A 2nd agreement to be signed by president Roosevelt ~ above October 2, 1903 that broadened on the early stage lease. According to the terms that were laid out in this agreement, the United says would salary Cuba a rental dues of two thousand dollars in gold every year. Another stipulation was the all fugitives indigenous Cuban justice that were fleeing to the U.S. Navy base would certainly be went back to Cuban authorities.

The contract of 1934 gives the United states a perpetual lease top top the base. It have the right to only be finished either by the U.S. Leave the area or by common agreement between the two countries.


As you can have guessed, Fidel Castro was not a pan of the rental covenant that that inherited. During his whole life, Fidel never once known the contract that developed the base.

Fidel"s love because that his American armed forces tenants was definitely not assisted by the failed just of Pigs intrusion of 1961. In that operation a CIA paramilitary team attempted to overthrow Castro and also his government.

To this day, the Castro federal government maintains the the perpetual lease provision of the treaty of 1934 is illegal. Fidel maintains the the land was "illegally usurped" through the US.

So exactly how do lock protest?

When Fidel came right into power, his federal government stopped cashing our rent checks! in reality that"s not completely true. Cuba walk cash ONE of our checks, earlier in 1959, but it to be a clerical error by an accountant that didn"t know any better.

Cuba hasn"t cashed any type of of the check we"ve sent every month over the last number of decades, also after us voluntarily raised our very own rent come $4,085 every month!!

The check are sent every month straight from the United claims Treasury and also are made to the "order that Tesorero basic De La Republica De Cuba" (order that Treasurer basic of the Republic that Cuba):


GTMO: WWII come The Present

During people War II, Gitmo was offered as a base for naval postal operations. The base to be also vital distribution point for shipping convoys from brand-new York City and vital West to the Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and also Trinidad and also Tobago.

From the finish of civilization War II v the mid-1990s, Gitmo was used as a Fleet Training basic for marine units. The stable acoustic problems for echo ranging made the sea close come Guantanamo just perfect for training the crew of Naval ship in anti-submarine warfare, and deploying convoys to the southerly Atlantic. Additionally the Bay and its adjacent islands detailed excellent amphibious training. This led to the 1st Marine division at Guantanamo Bay.

Fleet training Group tasks ended and also those troops left Cuba in 1995. In ~ this point, the base"s almost 100 year of usefulness to the U.S. Navy concerned an abrupt end. The navy shifted Gitmo into Minimum obelisk Performance (MPP) which basically supposed the base remained in a caretaker status, with just the barest of resources to preserve the provisions the the 1934 treaty.

As we all know, the September 11th strikes brought whole new purpose to GITMO. As American pressures rounded up "high value detainees", military leaders realized that a large area was required to organize everyone. The contenders for this area to be Guam, Diego Garcia, wake Island, and also Guantanamo Bay.

Ironically, the problem with the an initial three locations is the they all have legal contract with international states that would certainly have listed the prisoners simple rights. Both Guam and also Wake Island space both pretty lot American islands. If you desire to acquire technical, they are "unincorporated areas of the unified States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs and the U.S. Room of the Interior".

Diego Garcia is a tiny footprint-shaped coral atoll that is administered by the brothers Indian ocean Territory. So prisoners housed ~ above these three islands would certainly technically have actually the same legal rights afforded come a citizens of the united state or Britain.

Even more ironically, due to the fact that GITMO to be not us soil and the united state did no have any sort of treaty with CUBA, the legal status of prisoners was really murky. Theoretically, detainees living on GITMO wouldn"t have actually the same rights under American laws (most notably the right to legit representation, rights of prisoners, and rights to the American legal system). In fact, a US government official actually described the base as the "legal equivalent of external space."

On January 4, 2002, U.S. Southerly Command take it custody the designated detainees for more disposition at Guantanamo Bay. The base was offered to secure captured enemy combatants from the battle on terrorism and to collection up and also operate a stop facility for al Qaeda, Taliban and also other terrorists. The battle on terrorism of course led the U.S. Military to start a one interrogation initiative on the detainees in assistance of procedure Enduring Freedom.

In January 2009, chairman Obama signed executive, management orders directing the CIA to shut what remains of the network of secret prisons and ordering the closeup of the door of the Guantanamo detention camp within a year. Yet that didn"t happen.

On January 20, 2015, Barack Obama said the following throughout his State that the Union address:

"As Americans, we have a extensive commitment come justice — therefore it renders no sense to spend three million dollars per sinner to keep open a prison the the civilization condemns and also terrorists use to recruit. Due to the fact that I"ve to be President, we"ve worked responsibly to reduced the populace of GTMO in half. Now it"s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my decision to shut it down. It"s not who we are."

Fidel Castro died a year later on with no change in GITMO"s status.

GITMO remained unchanged during Donald Trump"s presidency and also is still energetic as that this writing.

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In February 2021, president Joe Biden announced a launch of a formal review of America"s military prison in ~ Guantanamo.