Guantánamo Bay

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Guantanamo Bay from satellite Guantanamo bay satellite image.jpg
Guantanamo Bay from satellite

Guantánamo Bay (Spanish : Bahía de Guantánamo) is a bay in Guantánamo Province at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the largest harbor on the south side of the island and it is surrounded by steep hills which create an enclave that is cut off from its immediate hinterland.

Contents

The United States assumed territorial control over the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay under the 1903 Lease agreement. [1] The United States exercises jurisdiction and control over this territory, while recognizing that Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty. The government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as an illegal occupation on the basis that the Cuban–American Treaty "was obtained by threat of force and is in violation of international law." Some legal scholars judge that the lease may be voidable. [2] It is the home of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp located within the base, which are both governed by the United States. Since the 1959 revolution, Cuba has only cashed a single lease payment from the United States government. [3]

Climate

Guantánamo Bay has a hot semi-arid climate according to the Köppen climate classification, with high temperatures throughout the year. Rainfall is rather low, and it is one of the driest regions in Cuba.

Climate data for Guantánamo Bay
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)35
(95)
35
(95)
33
(91)
35
(95)
37
(99)
37
(99)
39
(102)
37
(99)
37
(99)
38
(100)
39
(102)
35
(95)
39
(102)
Average high °C (°F)29
(85)
29
(85)
30
(86)
31
(87)
31
(88)
32
(90)
33
(91)
33
(92)
33
(91)
32
(89)
31
(88)
30
(86)
31
(88)
Average low °C (°F)20
(68)
20
(68)
21
(70)
22
(72)
23
(74)
24
(76)
24
(76)
24
(76)
24
(76)
24
(75)
23
(73)
21
(70)
23
(73)
Record low °C (°F)13
(55)
13
(55)
16
(61)
17
(63)
18
(64)
20
(68)
21
(70)
20
(68)
19
(66)
18
(64)
16
(61)
13
(55)
13
(55)
Average precipitation cm (inches)2.5
(1)
2.3
(0.9)
3.0
(1.2)
3.3
(1.3)
9.1
(3.6)
5.3
(2.1)
2.8
(1.1)
4.8
(1.9)
7.6
(3)
13
(5.1)
4.6
(1.8)
2.8
(1.1)
61
(24.2)
Source: Weatherbase [4]

U.S. control of Guantánamo Bay

Aerial view of Guantanamo Bay Gitmo Aerial.jpg
Aerial view of Guantánamo Bay

The United States first seized Guantánamo Bay and established a naval base there in 1898 during the Spanish–American War in the Battle of Guantánamo Bay. [5] :160–163 In 1903, the United States and Cuba signed a lease granting the United States permission to use the land as a coaling and naval station. The lease satisfied the Platt Amendment; this amendment stated a naval base at "certain specific points agreed upon by the President of the United States" was needed to "enable the United States to maintain independence of Cuba."[ citation needed ]

History

Map of Cuba with location of Guantanamo Bay indicated Guantanamo Bay map.png
Map of Cuba with location of Guantánamo Bay indicated

The original inhabitants of the bay, the Taínos, called it Guantánamo. Christopher Columbus landed in 1494, naming it Puerto Grande. [6] [ page needed ] On landing, Columbus' crew found Taíno fishermen preparing a feast for the local chieftain. When Spanish settlers took control of Cuba, the bay became a vital harbor on the south side of the island.[ citation needed ]

The bay was briefly known as Cumberland Bay when the British seized it in 1741 during the War of Jenkins' Ear. British Admiral Edward Vernon arrived with a force of eight warships and 4,000 soldiers with plans to march on Santiago de Cuba. However, local Spanish forces (a mixture Creoles and regular troops) defeated him and forced him to withdraw or face becoming a prisoner. [6] [ page needed ] In late 1760, boats from HMS Trent and HMS Boreas cut out the French privateers Vainquer and Mackau, which were hiding in the bay. The French were also forced to burn the Guespe, another privateer, to prevent her capture.[ citation needed ]

During the Spanish–American War of 1898, the U.S. Navy fleet attacking Santiago needed shelter from the summer hurricane season. They chose Guantánamo because of its excellent harbor. U.S. Marines landed with naval support in the invasion of Guantánamo Bay in June 1898. As they moved inland, however, Spanish resistance increased and the Marines required support from Cuban scouts.[ citation needed ]

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base surrounds the southern portion of the bay.

1911 panorama of Marines at Guantanamo.jpg
The U.S. Marines 1st, 2nd & 3rd Regiments at Deer Point Camp, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, April 26, 1911

The naval base, nicknamed "GTMO" or "Gitmo", covers 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi) on the western and eastern banks of the bay. It was established in 1898, when the United States took control of Cuba from Spain following the Spanish–American War. The newly-formed American protectorate incorporated the Platt Amendment in the 1901 Cuban Constitution. Tomás Estrada Palma, the first President of Cuba, offered a perpetual lease for the area around Guantánamo Bay on February 23, 1903. The 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations held, among other things, that the United States, for the purposes of operating coaling and naval stations, has "complete jurisdiction and control" of the Guantánamo Bay, while recognizing that the Republic of Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty. [7] [ page needed ]

In 1934 a new Cuban-American Treaty of Relations, reaffirming the lease, granted Cuba and its trading partners free access through the bay, modified the lease payment from $2,000 in U.S. gold coins per year to the 1934 equivalent value of $4,085 in U.S. dollars,[ citation needed ] and made the lease permanent unless both governments agreed to break it or until the U.S. abandoned the base property. [8]

After the Cuban Revolution of 1953–1959, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted that the status of the base remain unchanged, despite Fidel Castro's objections. Since then, the Cuban government has cashed only one of the rent checks from the U.S. government, and even then only because of "confusion" in the early days of the leftist revolution, according to Castro. The remaining un-cashed checks, made out to "Treasurer General of the Republic" (a title that ceased to exist after the revolution), were kept in Castro's office stuffed into a desk drawer. [9]

The United States used Guantanamo Bay as a processing center for asylum-seekers and as a camp for HIV-positive refugees in the 1990s. [10] Over a period of six months, the USA interned over 30,000 Haitian refugees in Guantanamo, while another 30,000 fled to the Dominican Republic. Eventually, the USA admitted 10,747 of the Haitians to refugee status in the United States. Most of the refugees were housed in a tent city on the re-purposed airstrip that would later be used to house the complex used for the Guantanamo military commissions. The refugees who represented discipline or security problems were held on the site that later became Camp XRay, the initial site of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[ citation needed ] In August 1994, rioting broke out in the detention camps and 20 U.S. military police and 45 Haitians were injured. [11]

Since 2002, the base has included the detainment camp for individuals deemed of risk to United States national security. In 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama gave orders for the detention camp to close by January 22, 2010. As of 2021, the detention camp remains open due to a congressional refusal of funds for its closure. [12]

Alfred-Maurice de Zayas has argued that the 1903 lease agreement was imposed on Cuba under duress and was a treaty between unequals, no longer compatible with modern international law, and voidable ex nunc . He makes six suggestions for a peaceful settlement, including following the procedure outlined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base Military base of the United States Navy

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, officially known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB, is a United States military base on the shore of Guantánamo Bay and is also the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base. The base is located on 45 square miles (116 km2) of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, at the southeastern end of Cuba, which the U.S. leased for use as a coaling station and naval base in 1903. The lease was $2,000 in gold per year until 1934, when the payment was set to match the value in gold in dollars; in 1974, the yearly lease was set to $4,085.

Camp X-Ray Temporary detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp

Camp X-Ray was a temporary detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp of Joint Task Force Guantanamo on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The first twenty detainees arrived at Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. It was named Camp X-Ray because various temporary camps in the station were named sequentially from the beginning and then from the end of the NATO phonetic alphabet. The legal status of detainees at the camp, as well as government processes for trying their cases, has been a significant source of controversy; several landmark cases have been determined by the United States Supreme Court.

Platt Amendment

On March 2, 1901, the Platt Amendment was passed as part of the 1901 Army Appropriations Bill. It stipulated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba at the end of the Spanish–American War, and an eighth condition that Cuba sign a treaty accepting these seven conditions. It defined the terms of Cuban–U.S. relations essentially to be an unequal one of U.S. dominance over Cuba.

Guantánamo City in Cuba

Guantánamo is a municipality and city in southeast Cuba and capital of Guantánamo Province.

Timeline of Guantánamo Bay

Noteworthy events of Guantánamo Bay.

Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) is a U.S. military joint task force based at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba on the southeastern end of the base. JTF-GTMO falls under US Southern Command. Since January 2002 the command has operated the Guantanamo Bay detention camps Camp X-Ray and its successors Camp Delta, Camp V, and Camp Echo, where detained prisoners are held who have been captured in the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere since the September 11, 2001 attacks. From the command's founding in 2002 to early 2017, the detainee population has been reduced from 779 to 41. As of May 2019, the unit is under the command of U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Timothy C. Kuehhas.

Camp Iguana

Camp Iguana is a small compound in the detention camp complex on the US Naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Camp Iguana originally held three child detainees, who camp spokesmen then claimed were the only detainees under age 16. It was closed in the winter of 2004 when the three were sent back to their native countries.

Camp Bulkeley is an encampment within the United States Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Camp Bulkeley was constructed between 1943–45. Originally, the camp was constructed to house Marines that were permanently stationed at the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay. Later, the camp was named for Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley, who was in charge of the base during 1964, when Cuba had accused the United States of stealing water.

Djamel Ameziane

Djamel Saiid Ali Ameziane is an Algerian citizen, and former resident of Canada, who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay detention camp US military prison in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

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Omar Abdulayev

Omar Hamzayevich Abdulayev, also known as Muhammadi Davlatov, is a citizen of Tajikistan, held in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. The Department of Defense reports that Abdulayev was born on October 11, 1978, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. He arrived at Guantanamo on February 9, 2002.

Cuban–American Treaty of Relations (1903)

The 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations was a treaty between the Republic of Cuba and the United States signed on May 22, 1903. The treaty contemplated leases of Guantánamo Bay; one such lease had been executed earlier in the year in February 1903, and a second lease was executed later in the year in July 1903.

The nature of international human rights law has been seemingly altered by Americans since the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is one example of recent developments that seem to disregard long standing human rights. The United States of America (USA) has pursued a 'seemingly deliberate strategy' to put suspected terrorists outside the reach of habeas corpus protections. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay serves as the location for a United States military prison in Cuba designed for the detention of non-citizens suspected of terrorist activity. At the time of its creation President Bush stated that its purpose was to respond to serious war crimes, primarily 'a new way to deal with terrorists'. The first camp was set up 3 months after the attacks on the twin towers and since then a human rights debate has begun over the legality of denying detainees the right to petition habeas corpus.

The United States Department of Defense acknowledges holding Tunisian detainees in Guantanamo. A total of 779 detainees have been held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba since the camps opened on January 11, 2002 The camp population peaked in 2004 at approximately 660. Only nineteen new detainees, all "high value detainees" have been transferred there since the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Rasul v. Bush. 40 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay. By July 2012 the camp held 168 captives.

The Cuban–American Treaty of Relations took effect on June 9, 1934. It abrogated the Treaty of Relations of 1903.

Operation Sea Signal

Operation Sea Signal was a United States Department of Defense operation in the Caribbean in response to an influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants attempting to gain asylum in the United States. As a result, the migrants became refugees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The operation took place from August 1994 to February 1996 under Joint Task Force 160. The task force processed over 50,000 refugees as part of the operation. The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy rescued refugees from the sea and other migrants attempted to cross the landmine field that then separated the U.S. and Cuban military areas. Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines provided refugee camp security at Guantanamo Bay, and ship security on board the Coast Guard cutters. This mass exodus led to the U.S. immigration implementation of the Wet Feet Dry Feet Policy. The mass Cuban exodus of 1994 was similar to the Mariel boat lift in 1980.

Executive Order 13492

Executive Order 13492, titled Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities, is an Executive Order that was signed by United States President Barack Obama on 22 January 2009, ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. This was signed at the same time as Executive Order 13493, in which Obama ordered the identification of alternative venues for the detainees.

Haitian refugee crisis

The Haitian refugee crisis that began in 1991, saw the US Coast Guard collect Haitian refugees and take them to a refugee camp at Guantanamo Bay. They were fleeing by boat after Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically elected president of Haiti, was overthrown and the military government was persecuting his followers. The first camp reached a maximum of 12,500 people. It was then reduced to 270 refugees who either had HIV or were related to someone who did. The reduction was made possible by the US reemploying a policy of strict repatriation for both those found at sea and many living in Guantanamo. The HIV+ refugees were quarantined in a section of the military base known as Camp Bulkeley and faced human rights violations. They were brought to the United States after US District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. ruled the camp was an "HIV prison camp."

1994 Cuban rafter crisis

The 1994 Cuban rafter crisis which is also known as the 1994 Cuban raft exodus or the Balsero crisis was the emigration of more than 35,000 Cubans to the United States via makeshift rafts. The exodus occurred over five weeks following rioting in Cuba; Fidel Castro announced in response that anyone who wished to leave the country could. Fearing a major exodus, the Clinton administration would mandate that all rafters captured at sea be detained at Guantanamo Bay.

References

  1. "Avalon Project – Agreement Between the United States and Cuba for the Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval stations; February 23, 1903". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  2. De Zayas, Alfred. (2003.) The Status of Guantánamo Bay and the Status of the Detainees. Archived March 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. Boadle, Anthony (August 17, 2007). "Castro: Cuba not cashing US Guantanamo rent checks". Reuters.com. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  4. "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Weatherbase.
  5. Nofi, A.A., 1995, The Spanish–American War, 1898, Pennsylvania: Combined Books, ISBN   0938289578
  6. 1 2 Gott, Richard Cuba: A new history, Yale University Press: 2004
  7. Olga Miranda Bravo, Vecinos Indeseables: La Base Yanqui en Guantánamo (La Habana: Editorial Ciencias Sociales, 1998)
  8. Destination Guantanamo Bay Avalon Law Yale, Retrieved on July 16, 2015
  9. Boadle, Anthony (August 17, 2007). "Castro: Cuba not cashing U.S. Guantanamo rent cheques". Reuters. Retrieved December 7, 2007.
  10. "Guantanamo Bay [GTMO] "GITMO"". Global Security. May 7, 2011. Archived from the original on November 13, 2001.
  11. "Gis, Haitians Hurt In Guantanamo Riot". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  12. "Guantanamo Docket". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  13. Compare a Word document titled "The Status of Guantánamo Bay and the Status of the Detainees" A presentation to the University of British Columbia – Law. Retrieved July 2014

Coordinates: 19°59′51″N75°08′31″W / 19.997520°N 75.142021°W / 19.997520; -75.142021