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CUBA 23 Feb 2013 United States at 110th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay lease

A perpetual lease, agreed on 23 Feb 1903 and dated 2 Jul 1903 in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, affirms Cuba’s

February 23, 2013 - NULL

CUBA 23 Feb 2013 United States at 110th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay lease

A perpetual lease, agreed on 23 Feb 1903 and dated 2 Jul 1903 in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, affirms Cuba's sovereignty over Guantánamo Bay while allowing the United States complete jurisdiction and control over the 45-square-mile site. The document explains the enduring US presence there, and if President Barak Obama eventually succeeds in emptying Camp Delta of its present 100-plus "enemy combatants," the US Guantánamo Bay Naval Baseit is unlikely to close. The perpetual lease can be broken only by mutual

CUBA 23 Feb 2013 United States at 110th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay lease

A perpetual lease, agreed on 23 Feb 1903 and dated 2 Jul 1903 in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, affirms Cuba's sovereignty over Guantánamo Bay while allowing the United States complete jurisdiction and control over the 45-square-mile site. The document explains the enduring US presence there, and if President Barak Obama eventually succeeds in emptying Camp Delta of its present 100-plus "enemy combatants," the US Guantánamo Bay Naval Baseit is unlikely to close. The perpetual lease can be broken only by mutual agreement between the United States and Cuba, and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

For the United States, the camp remains a useful offshore parking place for detainees and refugees who are politically unwelcome on the mainland. Over the years, the refugees held at the detention center included thousands of fleeing Haitans in 1991 who were denied political asylum on the mainland. Camp X-Ray was built in 1994 for refugees, and in 1999 President Bill Clinton opened the camp to some 20,000 Kosovars fleeing the Balkan conflict. He argued that it offered safe haven without offering asylum. Just a year later, the camp experienced another influx when a flotilla of over 30,000 Cubans on rafts who set to sea for Florida. The political threat the numbers posed on the mainland saw them intercepted and parked at Guantánamo Bay.

Camp X-Ray was repurposed for the first "enemy combatants" after the terror attacks on the United States on 11 Sep 2001, and after the US invasion of Afghanistan, prisoners suspected of being al Qaeda members or supporters were transported to the camp. In 2002, President George W. Bush made it the central prison for suspects considered unlawful enemy combatants in the so-called war on terror.

Eventually housing some 779 suspects, Camp Delta replaced the original facility. In the meantime, harsh interrogation tactics used at the camp drew global condemnation. Since then , some 600 detainees have been transferred to other countries, according to the New York Times, and eight have died in custody. The United States is working to whittle down the remainder, and military tribunals are under way. Eventually, and despite new restrictions covering the transfer of detainees out of the facility, the camp could be emptied of terrorism suspects.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported in December that the base is readying itself for its next opening. Facilities to house 25,000 potential refugees were recently completed. The development suggests that the United States is taking perpetuity seriously, leaving the question of what happens if relations with Cuba are restored and the Cubans are free to apply diplomatic pressure toward the return of the bay. (WRITTEN JAN 2013)

KEYWORDS:
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, lease, Camp Delta, Camp X-Ray, enemy combatants, February 1903, July 1903, Spanish-American War, Cuban sovereignty, US Guantánamo Bay Naval Base , refugees, Haitains, United States, Kosovars, detainees, US invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda, suspects, military tribunals

RELATED READING:

Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba) (NYT updated 12 Oct 2012)
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/guantanamobaynavalbasecuba/index.html

Guantánamo Bay's other anniversary: 110 years of a legal black hole
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/28/guantanamo-bay-usa

Guantánamo Bay museum
http://www.guantanamobaymuseum.org/

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Date written/update: 2013-02-23