AN ANALYSIS OF OWNERSHIPUNITED STATES OR CUBA?
B.A., Saginaw Valley State University, 1981
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Kurt R. Troutman
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Kurt Russell Troutman
has been approved
Troutman, Kurt Russell (M.A., Political Science)
Guantanamo Bay: An Analysis of OwnershipUnited States or Cuba?
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Anna Sampaio
The US currently maintains a naval air station located at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. In 1898, the US declared war against Spain and landed Marines at
Guantanamo Bay to help Cuba secure their independence. Upon defeating Spain,
the Treaty of Paris charged the US with the responsibility of ensuring Cubas
independence. The Platt Amendment outlined the terms of Guantanamo Bay Naval
Base. The subsequent lease agreements and the 1934Treaty of Relations re-
affirmed the US claim to the bay and provide a legal foundation for such claims.
Cuba and the US maintain conflicting opinions regarding ownership of bay.
Cuban objections to US control of Guantanamo Bay focuses upon fours areas:
Cuban sovereignty, the invalidity of various contractual agreements, rebus sic
stantibus and Cuban national security concerns.
The dilemma of Guantanamo Bay is not merely a legal issue, but in a larger
since it is a political contest. The US severed relations with Cuba in 1961, effectively
eliminating any reasonable option of dispute resolution. Neither state has expressed
a desire to resolve their differences through the International Count of Justice. The
Helms-Burton Act of 1996 outlines the current US policy regarding the terms of re-
establishing of diplomatic relations with Cuba and the future status of Guantanamo
Bay NAS. Cuba and the US are engulfed in a political stalemate and the base at
Guantanamo Bay will maintain the status quo until both countries determine a
resolution to be in its national interests.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
This thesis is dedicated to Todd and Marianne Troutman. Thanks for providing
environment to question what is fact and to encourage me to seek what is truth.
My thanks to the entire political department for their support and interest in my
education. Professor Anna Sampaio, I extend my deepest appreciation for your
extensive efforts in guiding my research. Siblings, Todd, Dana, and Wendy-those
who are last shall be first. I have finally closed the link in the family educational
chain! David O'Brien many thanks for providing superb educational resources.
Colonel Nathan Jessup, Commander of Marine Ground Forces, Windward Division,
Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station, thank you for the motivation and the attitude to
examine the issues of Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station.
Research Methods and Sources............................7
2. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GUANTANAMO BAY NAS.....................13
History of Guantanamo Bay..............................16
Current Status of Guantanamo Bay NAS...................30
3. THE US ACQUISITION OF GUANTANAMO BAY NAS....................34
United States Military Government in Cuba..............40
The Platt Amendment....................................42
1934 Treaty Between the United States of America and Cuba.45
Changing Responsibilities of Guantanamo Bay NAS........47
United States Defense Strategy.........................53
4. CUBAS OBJECTIONS TO GUANTANAMO BAY NAS
Rebus Sic Stantibus.................................66
Cuban National Security Concerns....................70
5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS..........................75
Dispute Resolution Options..........................80
Reestablishment of Diplomatic Relations.............82
International Court of Justice......................85
The Cuban Libertad Act of 1996......................88
A. DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST SPAIN.........................92
B. THE PLATT AMENDMENT......................................93
C. AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE US AND CUBA NO. 418................95
D. AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE US AND CUBA NO. 426................97
E. TREATY BETWEEN THE US AND CUBA NO. 866..................100
F. MAP OF GUANTANAMO BAY AREA..............................103
WORKS CITED ......................................................104
The United States currently maintains a naval air station located in the
Republic of Cuba. Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station (NAS) encompasses
approximately 30,000 acres within the province of Guantanamo, Cuba. The
Guantanamo naval facility was established in 1903 and is the United States' oldest
overseas military installation. The base is encircled by barbed wire, extensively
fortified and occupied by troops hostile to the host nation.
Cuba achieved its independence from Spain in 1898. The United States
warship USS Maine was scuttled in Havana Bay in 1898 under suspect
circumstances affording the United States the opportunity to declare war upon Spain
and land Marines on Cuban soil to restore order and protect US property rights. The
Spanish-American War ended several months later with US troops entrenched at the
deep-water harbor of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 1902, the Platt Amendment was
the first legal instrument signed between the United States and Cuba outlining the
terms of the lease agreements pertaining to Guantanamo Bay. Article VII of the Platt
Amendment reads in part, That to enable the United States to maintain the
independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own
defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States land
necessary for a coaling or naval station...(US Government Printing Office, 1971)."
On December 10, 1903 the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was born.
In my thesis I challenge the legitimacy of the United States continued
occupation of Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station. The purpose of a forward area
military base is to protect a state from foreign enemies. My guiding premise is that
Guantanamo Bay NAS has evolved from a military base originally established to
protect a future trans-ocean canal into a refugee-processing center. By examining
historical records, government documents and conducting interviews with military
and diplomatic personnel previously associated with the facility, I demonstrate that
the activities conducted by the United States military at Guantanamo Bay NAS have
become increasingly non-military. In addition I maintain that by shifting the role and
responsibilities of the base, the US has violated the contract agreement and I
contend that the usefulness of the base has become suspect.
At present time, Guantanamo Bay is host to hundreds of international
refugees. Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Cold War animosities have been
exploited through propaganda campaigns aimed at destabilizing the Republic of
Cuba. The United States continued antagonistic actions conducted through
Guantanamo Bay NAS foster a mutual distrust between the two countries resulting in
an increased security risk to the United States and Cuba. My thesis concludes with
an analysis of non-military activities conducted at Guantanamo Bay NAS and
presents recommendations concerning the future of the base.
This thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter One serves as a statement
of the hypothesis explaining the purpose of the thesis. A historical background of
US-Cuban relations pertaining to Guantanamo Bay NAS is presented in Chapter
Two. The historical background introduces the lease and treaty agreements that
contribute to the legal justification for acquiring the base. The Platt Agreement of
1902 and the US-Cuba Treaty of 1934 are the primary legal documents used to
define the establishment of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
In Chapter Three I examine the official US position regarding the inception
and maintenance of Guantanamo Bay NAS as an active military base. The military
objectives and activities of the base are discussed and the role that Guantanamo
Bay serves in the United States pursuit of national security is identified. Chapter
Three also examines the logic of maintaining Guantanamo Bay NAS and identifies
changing use patterns, as disclosed by US government documents and US military
officials stationed in Cuba and the United States.
In Chapter Four, I compare and contrast the official US position of the base
with reports from Cuban scholars, military and diplomatic personnel and international
relief organizations regarding the actual use of the facility. My research supports that
since the Cuban Revolution, Guantanamo Bay NAS has been used to stage a
coup(s) of elected Cuban leaders, conduct political propaganda campaigns aimed at
destabilizing the host country and serve as an international refugee processing
center. The logic of maintaining the base is deconstructed through three avenues: 1)
Guantanamo Bay NAS is a violation of Cuban sovereignty; 2) The legal invalidity of
the lease and treaty agreements through a principle of rebus sic stantibus or
changed conditions; and 3) The US military base at Guantanamo Bay compromises
Cuban national security. By determining that Guantanamo Bay NAS violates Cuban
sovereignty, exposing the invalidity of the lease agreements, and confirming that the
base is a threat to Cuban security, one can logically conclude that the US occupation
of Guantanamo Bay NAS must be terminated.
The final chapter explores recommendations regarding the future of
Guantanamo Bay NAS. The current US position is that the base is a bargaining chip
in prospective diplomatic relations between the two countries. Possible resolutions
of Guantanamo Bay include continued occupation of the facility, relinquishing the
base to a future Cuban democratic regime, and outright abandonment of the base.
All potential resolutions are challenged by the continued adversarial nature of US-
Significant research has been conducted regarding past, current and future
foreign policies influencing the relations between the United States and Cuba.
Some of the leading United States scholars of US-Cuban foreign relations who have
addressed the problems of maintaining a military base include Wayne S. Smith,
Philip Brenner and Michael Ranneberger. I have identified three Cuban scholars,
Esteban Morales Dominguez, Rafael Hernandez Rodriguez and Roger Luis Ricardo,
who have published materials pertaining to Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Dr. Wayne S. Smith and Esteban Morales Dominguez participated in a
diplomatic scholarly exchange conference in 1988 and co-edited Subject to Solution:
Problems in Cuban-US Relations (19881. This book features an entire chapter that
examines several issues from a US and Cuban viewpoint posed by the continued
operation of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Scholars Wayne Smith and Rafael Hernandez
Rodriguez present conflicting critiques of the legal issues surrounding the 1934
treaty pertaining to Guantanamo Bay. The authors conclude that the status of
Guantanamo Bay will not change until change suits the interests of the US. Smith's
and Rodriguez's work is particularly appealing and useful to my study because this
research promotes pragmatic change and reconciliation regarding the future of US-
Cuban relations. My study builds upon results achieved at the 1988 exchange
In From Confrontation to Negotiation: US Relations with Cuba (19881. Philip
Brenner explores the ongoing relationship between the United States and Cuba, by
identifying several issues in contention between the two nations including
Guantanamo Bay NAS. Brenner explains that a continued confrontational
relationship between the two countries results in huge economic and political costs to
Cuba and the United States. Brenners work regarding the economic and political
cost of confrontation is consistent with my preliminary research. Brenner introduces
the framework of a legal challenge known as rebus sic stantibusthe abandonment
of treaty obligations because of changed conditions, which is discussed thoroughly in
Chapter Four of my study.
As the US State Departments coordinator for Cuban Affairs, Michael
Ranneberger has authored several articles and provided numerous speeches
detailing the State Departments position on Cuban activities and policies since 1997.
Ranneberger voices the US Cold War perspective of continuing a hardball approach
toward relations with Cuba, especially while the Republic remains under the
leadership of Fidel Castro.
Ocean Press of Melbourne, Australia has published several Cuban-US policy
books written by Cuban authors including Guantanamo by Roger Ricardo in 1994.
This book is particularly persuasive because Ricardo presents a perspective of
Guantanamo Bay that is consistent with supporters of the Cuban Revolution. That
is, Guantanamo provides a decisively anti-US, yet, well-documented critique of
Guantanamo Bay NAS. Ricardos work articulates a Cuban scholars critical analysis
of the problems confronting a US presence at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
All of the authors cited present scholarly facts and opinions that are
influenced by the events and security considerations of the Cold War. My research
expands upon post Cold War efforts promoting a practical re-evaluation of US-Cuban
relations. Chapter Five presents several potential dispute resolution options to the
issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay. Unfortunately the US suspension of
diplomatic relations in 1961 has effectively stymied any potential avenues of
achieving an equitable solution to the dispute involving Guantanamo Bay.
Research Methods and Sources
The methods used to research Guantanamo Bay are principally text-based
analysis and review of scholarly writings, archival research and government
documents. Documents collected from the US State Department provide a
chronology of policies toward Cuba and a legal analysis of the continued operation of
Guantanamo Bay. The United States Navy and Department of Defense have
provided information pertaining to the mission of the US forces in Cuba. The US
Navy, Department of Public Affairs, Guantanamo Bay NAS, Cuba has provided
limited, unclassified information pertaining to the base.
The United States government restricts all access to the base. The materials
released by the United States government are subject to editing and primarily feature
public relations information that might be lacking objectivity regarding Guantanamo
Bay NAS. Private non-profit educational institutions including the Center for Defense
Information have the resources and expertise to provide information that serves my
study. I have also participated in a series of informal interviews with Mr. Jeff Mason,
an employee with the Center for Defense Information (CDI) and Admiral John Carroll
(Ret.), the Deputy Director of the CDI. In addition, Dr. Wayne S. Smith, a Senior
Fellow with the Center for International Policy and a former foreign service officer
stationed in Havana, Cuba, has engaged in three exchanges of correspondence with
me regarding policies affecting Guantanamo Bay NAS.1
1 The Center for International Policy is a non-profit, educational organization.
Finally, the Institute for Policy Analysis, The Cuban Research Institute and
Cuban American National Foundation are all non-profit think tanks that have
published materials relating to US-Cuban relations. I have cultivated informal
relations with some of their members and several interviews were conducted,
resulting in a variety of opinions regarding activities conducted at Guantanamo Bay.
Significant legislative resources that provide the foundations of US-Cuban
policy were collected and analyzed. The parameters of US-Cuban relations have
been defined through several US Congressional legislative acts including:
1902 United States-Cuban Naval Reserve Lease (Platt Amendment)
1934 United States-Cuban Agreement of Treaty of 1934 (Treaty of
1992 Cuban Democracy Act (CDA)
1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Act (Helms-Burton Act)
Imperialism, paternalism and communism have driven the confrontational
pattern of foreign relations between the United States and Cuba. Current scholarly
literature continues to reflect competitive, antagonistic feelings that have evolved
between the two states. My study builds upon post-Cold War research focusing
upon changing US-Cuban relations. The base no longer poses a serious threat to
Cuban national security, but does serve as a symbol of US intervention.
Guantanamo Bay is one of several bilateral issues, including the economic embargo,
human rights and a commitment to democracy, which awaits resolution between the
Based upon the research I have conducted, a contradiction exists between
the official United States position regarding the use of the base and the actual
activities taking place at Guantanamo Bay NAS. The principal contradiction is the
perceived military value of the base. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the diminished
capacity of the Cuban military and US technological advances in weaponry, the need
for a small installation located so close to the Atlantic Fleet Southern Command
Headquarters (Naval Base Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico) is suspect. Although
plausibly denied by the US government, it appears probable that the true value of
Guantanamo Bay NAS lies in the intelligence gathering capabilities of the facility.
The continued occupation of Guantanamo Bay NAS may pose a greater security risk
than the base mitigates.
The primary value of my thesis is to contribute to the existing research
pertaining to United States-Cuban relations. I have found an acute lack of material
addressing the future status of Guantanamo Bay NAS, indicating a need for my
research. When the time does arrive for a change in US-Cuban relations, I expect
that my thesis will be part of a small field of research focusing upon Guantanamo
US-Cuban relations continue to be skewed by a Cold War mentality of
aggravated confrontation. The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuban
Libertad Act of 1996 clearly demonstrate that the United States government is not
preparing for a policy shift toward normalized relations with Cuba. Correspondence
from Wayne S. Smith indicates that the United States has no intention of
relinquishing Guantanamo NAS until Cuba embraces a US definition of democracy
allowing relations between the United States and Cuba to move toward
normalization. Unfortunately, it appears that under present conditions normal
relations between the two countries might be decades away.
Guantanamo Bay NAS is a classified, controlled-access US military
installation. The return of the base has not been of primary concern to the US or the
Cuban governments. My inquiries have not uncovered a single US publication
devoted to challenging the United States continued occupation of Guantanamo Bay.
In addition to the lack of previous research, problems exist regarding the
objectivity and reliability of existing materials pertaining to the base. Cold War
diplomats preoccupied with saving the world from Communism are the authors of
much of the information presently available. The United States governmental
agencies are a primary source of research material. Unfortunately, objective and
reliable sources are difficult to obtain through government resources regarding US-
Cuba relations. Moreover, Governmental documents from the Republic of Cuba are
not available for this study.
Lack of scholarly materials and lack of objectivity are the two primary
problems I have encountered. Guantanamo Bay NAS has been researched as a
component of Cuban policy, but seldom have scholars separated the base from the
umbrella of US-Cuban relations. The US government has clung to an unsuccessful
policy of labeling the Cuban revolutionary government as a temporary regime. In this
research, I attempted to separate Guantanamo Bay from the political events dividing
the two countries and examine the continued use of the base upon its own merits.
Guantanamo Bay NAS was established to defend a future, trans-isthmus
canal joining the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Politics demanded that the base
evolved into a vanguard against Communism and currently Guantanamo Bay NAS
serves as a refugee-processing center. Based upon the research conducted in this
thesis, I am unconvinced that the United States is justified in maintaining
Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station as a forward area military installation.
US-Cuban relations have been extensively analyzed but a glaring absence of
research exists focusing upon non-military activities being conducted at Guantanamo
Bay NAS. The Cuban Libertad Act of 1996 is the current legislative instrument
guiding US policy toward Cuba. The Cuban Libertad Act was designed to tighten
economic sanctions on Cuba; however, the act does provide a negotiation
opportunity regarding the status of Guantanamo Bay. Section 201, Paragraph 12 of
the Cuban Libertad Act states: To be prepared to enter into negotiations with a
democratically elected government in Cuba either to return the United States Naval
Base at Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutual
agreeable terms. The United States government has extended an olive branch to a
future Cuban government suggesting that the environment may eventually exist for
the return of Guantanamo Bay.
One hundred years ago imperialistic and security considerations presented
the United States with the opportunity to establish a military base outsides of its
borders. Newly independent Cuba accepted a foreign base as a means of ensuring
its independence. The relationship between the United States and Cuba has
changed during the 20th Century and a critical re-evaluation of existing conditions
must be conducted to justify continued occupation of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Article
VII of the Platt Amendment clearly states that the purpose of the base is to maintain
the independence of Cuba; however, all activities on the base are limited to use as a
coaling and naval station.
As such, my research examines if the activities currently being conducted at
Guantanamo Bay NAS are in violation of the conditions of the 1934 treaty signed
between the United States and Cuba. The official US position regarding
Guantanamo Bay is defined through the leases and treaties used to establish the
base. This thesis challenges the leases and treaties, the military value of the base
and the use patterns at Guantanamo Bay.
Guantanamo Bay NAS is the United States first overseas military installation.
Military force is a foreign policy tool utilized by states to provide security to its citizens
and to promote national interests. Successful foreign policy requires constant
scrutiny and the flexibility to change with the winds of politics. During the 199s,
tension between the United States and Cuba appears to have abated, albeit slightly.
A critical examination of Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station is desirable for both
countries to achieve their national interests and serve their citizens.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GUANTANAMO BAY
The US has maintained a military installation located within the Republic of
Cuba for almost 100 years. Thousands of US citizens have lived and worked at the
Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station located upon the island of Cuba. This chapter
explains the political events that led to the establishment of the base and provides a
historical perspective of the United States occupation of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
The United States of America had evolved into a world naval power by the
close of the 19th Century. US politicians had achieved Manifest Destiny a generation
earlier and were again eager to expand national borders. Spanish control over its
colonies in the Caribbean and South Pacific had deteriorated, providing the US with
an opening to add territory to the Union. Warship technology switched from sail to
steam; however, the coal-fueled ships required distant bases to serve as fuel depots
The potential annexation of the Islands of Hawai'i, Guam Philippines, Virgin Islands
and Cuba presented the US Navy an opportunity to establish coaling stations outside
of its borders.
Historically, US politicians have viewed the Caribbean Sea as an American
Lake. The area has long been of great concern to the United States as indicated in
the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. The doctrine stated that the
Americas were not to be viewed as a field for further European colonization (CCEE,
1994). This doctrine would dominate US foreign policy well into the 20th Century.
Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean basin, is called the Pearl of the Caribbean
and has long been coveted by the United States of America due to its close proximity
(90 nautical miles) and productive sugar cane fields.
The sinking of the USS Maine in April of 1898 triggered a chain of events
culminating in the United States declaring war upon Spain. The Spanish-
American War was a brief affair, ending on August 12, 1898 with US troops
occupying Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Public Affairs Staff, 1998). The 1898 Treaty
of Paris provided limited independence to Cuba under the supervision of the
United States. In 1902 the Platt Amendment was signed between the two
countries, providing the foundation for two lease agreements pertaining to
Guantanamo Bay (US Government Printing Office, 1971).
The United States relies upon legal documents to justify the inception of and
its continued presence at Guantanamo Bay. The 1898 Treaty of Paris ended the
Spanish-American War and placed the US military in an administrative role over the
former Spanish colony. The United States granted independence to Cuba on May
20,1902 in exchange for adding the Platt Amendment to the Cuban Constitution
(Ricardo, 1994: 24).
The Platt Amendment provided the United States with the formal authority to
lease a coaling or naval station at Guantanamo Bay and to intervene in Cuban
internal affairs if necessary to preserve independence. The Platt Amendment led to
the signing of two lease agreements by the US and Cuba in 1903 establishing
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The first agreement defined the geographical limits of
the base and included a declaration of sovereignty maintained by the Republic of
Cuba over the land demarcated as Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. The second
lease agreement denoted an annual monetary sum of $2,000.00 to be paid by the
United States to Cuba, assigned border construction expenses to the US and
identified vessel access restrictions to the bay (Public Affairs Staff, 1998). The Platt
Amendment and lease agreements provided the legal framework for the base from
1903 until 1934.
The Platt Amendment served to establish and expand American hegemony,
or leadership, in Cuba and the entire Caribbean region. Article III granted the US a
right to intervene in Cuban internal affairs to ensure the preservation of Cuban
independence. The Platt Amendment provided the United States authority over all
levels of government in Cuba. In 1934, US diplomat Sumner Wells declared, "No
greater impediment to the free exercise by the Cuban people of their inherent right to
sovereignty could have been devised. It has operated as a means of deterring the
Cubans from exercising the muscles of self-reliance essential for self-government
(Perez, 1986: 338). By 1934, the Platt Amendment, as a means of expressing US
leadership in Cuba, had outlived its usefulness.
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Treaty Between the United
States and Cuba on May 29,1934 which abrogated or superceded the lease
agreements of 1903. The treaty, known as the Treaty of Relations, reaffirmed the
continued lease of Guantanamo Bay as a part of the United States Good Neighbor
Policy of friendly political and economic relations between Latin American countries.
Article III of the Treaty of Relations reads in part:
Until the two contracting parties agree to the modifications or
abrogation of the stipulations of the agreement in regard to the lease
to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval
stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February
19,1903 and the President of the United States of America on the 23rd
day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement
with regard to the naval station of Guantanamo shall continue in
effect..."So long as the United States of America shall not abandon
the said naval station at Guantanamo or the two governments shall
not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall
continue to have territorial area that it now has... (Public Affairs Staff,
The treaty of 1934 remains the sole legal document upholding the continued
US possession of Guantanamo Bay. The US presence at the base rests upon this
internationally recognized agreement signed by the United States of America and the
Republic of Cuba. The original lease documents and the treaty of 1934 contain no
termination date of the contract. The US right to lease Guantanamo Bay Naval Air
Station exists until Cuba and the United States mutually agree to modify or abrogate
History of Guantanamo Bay
The Arawak Indians of La Bahia de Guantanamo were host to Christopher
Columbus in 1494. Frustrated by a lack of gold and fresh water, Columbus soon left
Guantanamo Bay in search of the Asian mainland. British and French colonists
largely ignored the isle of Cuba, allowing Spain to establish and retain its claim of
Cuba relatively unchallenged until the late 19th Century. Refugees fleeing French
rule in nearby Haiti aided and influenced the Spanish colonization efforts of the
A Cuban rebellion against colonial Spain simmered through the second half
of the 19th Century and reached a full-scale war for independence in 1895. Insurgent
leaders Jose Marti and General Maximo Gomez led a bloody, but inconclusive
rebellion aimed at ending Spanish control of the island. The Spanish fleet utilized
Guantanamo Bay as a staging point for military intervention aimed at quelling the
Cuban rebellion. The bay was well fortified with 7,000 regular Spanish troops in
early 1898 (Public Affairs Staff, 1998).
The US has long sought the island of Cuba as a potential territory or state.
Immediately upon achieving independence from England, the US voiced its desire to
obtain Cuba. Personal correspondence written by President John Adams to Robert
R. Livingston in 1783 stated that the Caribbean island was a natural extension of the
American continent, and, therefore, it was impossible to resist the conviction that the
annexation of Cuba to the Federal Republic was indispensable for the continuation of
the union (Perez, 1986: 338).
Several times during the 19th Century the US considered purchasing Cuba
from Spain. Northern states continually blocked purchase attempts of Cuba for fear
of adding another slave state to the union. The future construction of the trans-
ocean canal in Panama and potential economic expansion piqued the United States
interest in Cubas war for independence.
The USS Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor under suspect circumstances in
1898 and served to move the United States toward war with Spain. Realizing a long
sought opportunity to obtain Cuba, the US responded by severing diplomatic
relations and issuing a declaration of war against Spain in April of 1898. The Joint
Resolution of the US Congress Declaring War Against Spain mandated that the
people of the island of Cuba were free and independent. The resolution demanded
that the government of Spain relinquish its authority in Cuba and withdraws its land
and naval forces. The US President was empowered to use military force to enforce
the resolution; however, the United States disclaimed any intent to exercise
jurisdiction over the island of Cuba (Library of Congress, 1998).
Immediately upon entering the war, the US Navy imposed a blockade of
Havana Harbor, limiting the Spanish fleet to Guantanamo Bay. The Cuban rebels
would soon be supported by approximately 17,000 US troops (Brenner, 1988: 8). On
June 6, 1898, Commander B.H. McCalla captained the USS Marblehead into
Guantanamo Bay (Public Affairs Staff, 1998). The Spanish gunboat Sandoval met
the Marblehead in the center of the bay but was no match for the Marbleheads six-
pound guns. The Spanish fort at Cayo del Toro in the mouth of Guantanamo Bay
was cut off from reinforcements and later defeated. At the end of the day,
Commander McCalla and 600 Marines raised the United States flag at a makeshift
base at Guantanamo Bay. The establishment of a base at Guantanamo Bay allowed
the US Marines to contain and intercept all communications in the area, effectively
removing the Spanish army at Guantanamo from participating in the defense of its
Cuban colony. US and Cuban troops then directed military strategy toward the city
of Santiago in an attempt to finish the struggle (Public Affairs Staff: 1998).
On July 1, 1898 US Calvary troops were victorious at the historic battle of
San Juan Hill. By mid-July, American regulars occupied Santiago and called for a
Spanish surrender. The Spanish Army acknowledged that the war could not be won
and reluctantly began third-party negotiations through France to sue for peace. The
Spanish-American War peace protocol was signed on August 17, 1898, ending six
months of hostilities (Public Affairs Staff, 1998). The 1898 Treaty of Paris formalized
an agreement requiring the United States to pay Spain a sum of $20,000,000 for
relinquishing all rights to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines Islands
(Mason, 1984: 134). Cuba was treated as a conquered country and excluded by the
US from participating in the peace proceedings.
In 1903, the Republic of Cuba leased to the United States land located at the
mouth of Guantanamo Bay to be used as a coaling or naval station. Two separate
lease agreements outlined the terms and conditions of the lease. The only
restrictions placed upon the US were that the area surrounding Guantanamo Bay
must be used as a coaling or naval stations and that vessels engaged in Cuban
trade should have passage rights through the bay. Due to an uncertain reaction in
Cuba to the transfer of the base, only one Cuban official was present at the
ceremony aboard the USS Kearsarge on December 12, 1903 (Ricardo, 1994: 17).
Construction began at Guantanamo Bay Coaling Station in early 1904. The
US Navy requested construction appropriations of $1,015,000 for fiscal years 1904-
05 (Coletta, 1987: 138). The proposed facilities included a wharf, piers, supply
buildings and troop barracks. A reliable supply of fresh water was an immediate
concern at the base. The US Army Corp of Engineers responded by implementing a
huge reservoir project to store fresh water.
Logistical challenges and technological changes impeded the development of
Guantanamo Bay into a Caribbean fueling center. Several times the exact locations
of coal dumps were changed until Hospital Cayo, a small island in the center of the
bay, finally was selected. Oil replaced coal in the early 20th Century as an efficient
method of fueling ships, rendering the coaling station obsolete. Three years after the
establishment of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, coaling ceased to be a function of
the facility (Public Affairs Staff: 1998).
In August of 1906, insurrection broke out on the island in response to a
perceived fraudulent re-election of Cuban President Tomas Estrada Palma. The
Cuban government could either negotiate with the rebels or defeat them with military
force. President Palma chose neither and appealed to the United States to mediate
grievances presented by several disgruntled factions. The US was not eager to
intervene until President Palma resigned his presidency on September 28, 1906
(Public Affairs Staff, 1988). President Theodore Roosevelt ordered US troops to
occupy the capital city of Havana and establish a provisional government. This was
the first of several US interventions into Cuban politics authorized by article III of the
The United States was entering an era of Gunboat Diplomacy in the
Caribbean. The US (and European naval powers) effectively utilized Gunboat
Diplomacy at the turn of the 20th Century as a means of controlling distant
possessions and territories. The United States essentially moored several warships
off the Cuban coast in sight of politicians and civilians. Cannons fixed toward the
shoreline provided an effective enticement toward extracting a diplomatic agreement
between the rebels and the Cuban government.
The naval station continued to construct facilities through the second decade
of the 20th Century. A power plant, machine shops and fuel tanks were built by US
and Cuban laborers. Construction was twice interrupted by domestic political
disturbances. A rebellion in 1912 by Cuban slaves gave cause for a detachment of
US Marines to land in Cuba to ensure the protection of life and property. Several
years later, a sugar intervention was caused by contention between competing
Cuban political parties. United States Marines responded by briefly occupying the
port cities of Guantanamo and Camaguey in 1917 to preserve law and order.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was not equipped to respond to the wartime
emergency of World War I. The US Congress appropriated funds to increase fleet
facilities, but construction was not completed until after the war. Naval ships utilized
the base for training maneuvers during the winter months, but Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base contributed very little to the US war effort in Europe.
Post-WW I demobilization of the US military resulted in a quiet period at
Guantanamo Bay. The US Navy shifted a large portion of its resources to the Pacific
Ocean. The remaining Atlantic Fleet expanded the use of Guantanamo Bay Naval
Base for training maneuvers. The Pacific Fleet was scheduled to negotiate the
Panama Canal and participate in joint fleet maneuvers every third year at
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
Marines stationed at Guantanamo Bay between the wars conducted normal
military duties and seldom were placed on a ready alert status. The limited
recreation facilities at Guantanamo Bay were subject to US prohibition-era
restrictions. The Cuban city of Caimanera, located adjacent to the north gate of the
base, provided rum, cigars and illicit entertainment for the US personnel stations at
Guantanamo Bay (Ricardo, 1994: 20).
During the 1930s Guantanamo Bay Naval Base fully evolved into a modern
military training site. Propulsion technology had long rendered the coaling station
obsolete. The Treaty of Relations was signed between the United States and Cuba
in 1934, relieving the US of any further obligation to govern the island. The treaty
repealed the Platt Amendment, revoking the authority and responsibility of the US to
intervene in Cubas internal affairs (Avalon Project: 1996).
The new treaty did not change the status of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
The Treaty of Relations reaffirmed that the agreement regarding the base could only
be terminated or modified with the consent of both parties. The US recognized the
Republic of Cuba as the ultimate sovereign over Guantanamo Bay, but Cuba
consented that during the time of US occupation, the United States would have
complete jurisdiction and control over the area. The treaty's unorthodox interpretation
of sovereignty remains a point of contention and will be discussed in detail in
Chapter Four of this study.
Franklin D. Roosevelt made the first of two visits to Guantanamo Bay Naval
Station in February of 1939. In response to the war in Europe, President Roosevelt
declared an unlimited emergency and provided the authority for a great expansion of
the facility. On the eve of World War II, the President upgraded Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base to Guantanamo Bay Naval Operating Base.
The entire Caribbean region was a vital component of the United States
defense strategy during WW II. Agreements were made with Great Britain for the US
to establish a chain of military bases throughout the Caribbean including the
Bahamas Islands, British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands. The Guantanamo
Bay facility was the largest link in the Caribbean defense chain. Submarine
maneuvers were introduced at Guantanamo Bay Naval Operating Base and the
facility continued to serve as a training site throughout WW II.
After the war, the naval base was reduced slightly from its wartime peak, but
traffic remained steady in the harbor. The joint US-Britain Caribbean defense pact
was disassembled resulting in troops and hardware from the outlying facilities being
transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The naval station was expanded to include a naval
air station, fleet training, and s naval supply center. President Harry S. Truman
promoted Guantanamo Bay Naval Operating Base to its current status of
Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station on June 12, 1952 (Public Affairs Staff, 1998).
From the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay Coaling Station through the
early 1950s, relations between the United States and Cuba resembled a paternalistic
neo-colonial relationship. The US dominated Cubas economy primarily through a
monopolistic control of the sugar trade. The abrogation of the Platt Amendment
rendered the US no longer officially active in the internal policies of Cuba, but the US
remained the dominant force in Cuban economic affairs until the Cuban Revolution
US and world attention turned toward the Korean peninsula during the 1950s.
Guantanamo Bay NAS responded to the hostilities in Korea by upgrading and
expanding its fleet training capabilities. A dredging of Guantanamo Bay was
authorized in an attempt to accommodate the largest of battleships and aircraft
carriers. The United States was fully preparing for an ensuing Cold War with the
Soviet Union. For the time being, political events in Cuba did not appear to merit
significant concern or monitoring (Public Affairs Staff: 1998).
Cuban Dictator General Fulgencio Batista gained political power by way of a
coup detat in 1933. General Batista held the office of President from 1940-44 and
again seized power in 1952 just prior to scheduled presidential elections. US
support allowed Batista to maintain his position as the central figure in Cuban politics
for over twenty years (Encarta 1997a).
Administrative corruption and internal dissatisfaction with the Batista
government increased through the 1950s. Numerous underground guerilla and
paramilitary factions emerged to challenge the existing political order. The most
prominent anti-Batista group was the July 26th Movement. Headed by Fidel Castro
Ruz, the July 26 Movement adapted its name from a failed attack on the Batista
Armys Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953 (Bender, 1975: 7). Several members of
the group, including brothers Fidel and Raul Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara,
were jailed for their part in the attack. General Batista eventually granted amnesty
for all three leaders and many of their followers. Fidel Castro returned from a brief
exile in Mexico and the July 26 Movement reorganized in 1956 in the Sierra Maestra
Mountains in southeastern Cuba.
The Batista government responded to the July 26 Movement and growing
civil distress with increased violence and repression. By late 1958 the US withdrew
its support of the regime and enacted an embargo on military equipment and
ammunitions to the island. General Batista fled Cuba (to the United States) on
December 31,1958 (Brenner, 1988: 11). The Cuban Army was demoralized and
ceased to function without its long time leader. Fidel Castro and the July 26
Movement occupied the city of Havana on January 8, 1959 (Brenner, 1988: 11).
The success of the Cuban Revolution signaled a change in the status quo for
US political and economic influence on the island. Fidel Castro was a self-styled
egalitarian who was acutely aware of US economic dominance in Cuba. Economic
dependency and political instability had the potential to promote a degrading
psychological inferiority complex in the Cuban culture. The revolutionary
government quickly identified the US as the primary agent for Cubas second-class
economic status. Friendly relations enjoyed between the United States and Cuba
were about to be significantly altered.
Communication and relations between the President Dwight D. Eisenhowers
administration and Cubas revolutionary government were strained from the
beginning. Despite an immediate recognition of the Castro regime and mixed
support of new government, the US was greatly alarmed at the prospects of a
potentially communist dictatorship located 90 miles from US soil. Both the United
States and Cuban governments appeared to be spiraling into a chain of events that
would inevitably lead to conflict.
US diplomatic efforts to establish a constructive engagement with their Cuban
counterparts were impeded by the euphoria of the revolution. US politicians and
citizens were shocked at the treatment (trials and executions) of former Batista
supporters. The United States responded by cutting off scheduled sugar purchases
from Cuba. Cuba escalated tensions by nationalizing millions of dollars worth of US
property and investments on the island. The United States removed key personnel
from US manufacturing plants in Cuba in an attempt to disrupt productivity.
Failing to reverse Cuba's anti-US policies, President Eisenhower enacted
measures to sever diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961 (Bender. 1975: 22). The
White House stressed that the termination of relations did not affect US friendship
with the citizens of Cuba. Following the breaking of relations, the United States
issued a statement regarding Guantanamo Bay NAS: The termination of our
diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba has no effect on the status of our naval
station at Guantanamo. The treaty rights under which we maintain the naval station
may not be abrogated without consent of the United States (US Dept, of State
Bulletin, 1/23/1961: 104).
Hostility between the two countries exploded in the early 1960s. The Bay of
Pigs Invasion,2 Cuban Missile Crisis,3 and an economic embargo4 embodied the
confrontational policies enacted by both countries. A pattern of mutual hostility had
The Bay of Pigs is a bay in Cuba and the site of an unsuccessful invasion launched in April of 1961 by Anti-Castro
exiles secretly supported by the U.S.A.
Construction of a Russian nuclear missile base in Cuba in 1962 provoked a crisis that was eventually settled
peacefully by the U.S. and Soviet Union.
Presidential Proclamation 3447 entitled "Embargo on Trade with Cuba" decreed an economic blockage to begin
on February 7, 1962. URL: http://dms.gov/general orders/19953qt/95842.html.
clearly evolved and continues to define US-Cuban relations today. The continued
presence of the US military at Guantanamo Bay NAS represents an ongoing source
of conflict. Cuban President Fidel Castro stated: "There is a base on our island
territory directed against Cuba and the revolutionary government of Cuba, in the
hands of those who declare themselves enemies of our country, enemies of our
revolution, and enemies of our people (Bender, 1975: 110).
During the 1970s, US policy toward Cuba softened from containment of
communism, to a civil posture toward the Castro regime. In 1975, US Secretary
of State, Henry Kissinger, stated that the US was "prepared to move in a new
direction" in policy toward Cuba. Kissinger later conditioned his statements by
asserting that relations would not change as long as Cuba retained troops in
Angola. President Gerald Ford also denounced Cuban revolutionary activities in
Africa resulting in a diplomatic standoff with the Cuban government (Bender,
The late 1970s witnessed a potential breakthrough of US-Cuban relations.
President Carter did not renew a ban on travel to Cuba and also lifted a
prohibition against the remittance of money to Cuban relatives by US citizens.
The Castro regime furthered reconciliation efforts with a release of political
prisoners. Unfortunately this window of goodwill between the two countries was
closed with the establishment of the Mariel Boatlifts.
In April of 1980, approximately 120,000 Cubans left the country through
the port city of Mariel, most destined for the United States (US Dept, of State,
1999a). This influx of refugees served to harden public opinion in the United
States against any change in relations with Cuba. The US responded with an
expansion of military maneuvers at Guantanamo Bay NAS; however, the base did
not play a significant role in the activities between Cuba and the United States
during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Guantanamo Bay NAS participation in high-alert maneuvers and exercises
increased throughout the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan's covert war in
Central America met resistance from Fidel Castro who was attempting to export
his revolution. In 1984, US war games, code named Ocean Venture 82, featured
a mock evacuation of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Cuba responded to the evacuation
exercise by placing the country on full alert, increasing civil defense drills and
requesting additional military aid from the Soviet Union.
The pattern of hostilities between the two countries continued to simmer at
a dangerous level. In May of 1984 the base received appropriations totaling
$43,000,000 to modernize existing facilities (US Dept, of State, 1999a). In
keeping with an agreement stemming from the missile crises in 1962, the US
increased readiness on the base, but tactfully avoided using Guantanamo Bay
NAS as a staging point for military activities in the region.
Cold War tensions continued to escalate as the United States instituted
propaganda broadcasts through Radio Marti in 1985. The Cuban government
immediately enacted measures to jam the signal and retaliated by suspending an
immigration agreement involving the marielitos that rushed to the United States in
1980. The agreement was later reinstated but the opportunity for reconciliation
between the two countries appeared permanently closed.
The crumbling of the Soviet Union during the late 1980s afforded
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush the latitude to increase the pressure
upon the Cuban government. In 1991 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
announced that all Soviet troops were to be withdrawn from Cuba and the billions
of economic subsidies to Cuba would be terminated. The United States Congress
passed the Cuban Democracy Act in 1992 further restricting foreign investment,
travel and family remittances to Cuba in a continued attempt to undermine
President Fidel Castro (US Department of State, 1999a).
The US military base at Guantanamo Bay had evolved into an
international refugee center during the 1990s. In 1991 the base was used to
temporarily house thousands of Haitian refugees escaping from a military regime
that ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Following Castro's open
migration policy in 1994, thousands of Cubans seeking immigration to the United
States were detained for processing at Guantanamo Bay NAS. Operation Allied
Force in Kosovo in 1999 created a flood of refugees in the Balkans which were
flown to the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Guantanamo Bay NAS continued to change throughout the 20th Century to
meet the changing needs of the United States government. The base was
originally established as a coaling station and guarantor of Cuban independence.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base served the US in both world wars as a training
facility servicing the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The base responded to the
polarization of the Cold War by providing a watchful eye on Communist Cuba.
The advent of peace has allowed the base to presently serve as a processing and
detainment center for international refugees.
Current Status of Guantanamo Bay NAS
Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station encompasses 45.4 square miles (28,780
acres) and is situated within the province of Guantanamo in southeastern Cuba. The
naval base is the United States oldest overseas military installation and is the only
US base positioned within the borders of a country that is regarded as hostile. As of
December 31, 1997, US troop levels at Guantanamo Bay NAS totaled 1,109; of
which, six are Army, 607 Navy, one Air Force and 495 Marines (US Dept, of
Defense, 1999). In addition to US military personnel there are 1,230 US civilian
employees and military dependents (US Dept, of Defense 1999). A 17.4-mile barbed
wire fence and armed guards perched atop observation posts encircle the base.
The Marines originally stationed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base were
charged with the responsibility of ensuring Cuban independence, providing security
for the continuous operation of the Panama Canal and defending the Windward
Passage. The passage serves as an entry point for North American and European
ships into the Caribbean Sea.
Today, the primary purpose of the base is to provide logistical support to the
US Caribbean military operations, to serve as a training facility for the United States
Atlantic Fleet and to provide assistance to selected humanitarian operations. The
US Navy rotates approximately 80-100 vessels and up to 20,000 troops each year
through Guantanamo Bay for support service, maintenance and training missions
(Smith, Dominguez, 1988: 98).
. The Guantanamo Bay is one of the finest deepwater harbors in the world.
Just off the mouth of the bay the sea floor plummets to over 100 fathoms (600 feet)
enabling the largest of ships to set anchor in the bay. Aircraft carriers, battleships,
submarines and Coast Guard cutters occupy the 42 anchorage sites available in the
bay. The vastness of the bay conveniently serves as a driver's training site for pilots
and captains learning to navigate military vessels. Guantanamo Bay NAS is a
restricted access area and the harbor is closed to commercial traffic, with the
exception of a shipping corridor through the center of the bay allowing merchant
ships to reach the Cuban cities of Caimanera and Boqueron.
Two airfields are located at the base: McCalla Field and Leeward Point Field.
Proving grounds for aircraft and artillery, radar communication equipment and
command posts are visible within the perimeter fence. Shooting ranges, infantry
courses, and troop barracks serve a floating population including military, civilian and
support personnel. Minimal air and sea traffic near the base provides isolation
required for submarine maneuvers and sonar training to be conducted at
Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Guantanamo Bay NAS is one of several US military installations in the region.
The Atlantic Fleet Southern Headquarters has recently moved from the US Canal
Zone in Panama to Naval Base Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The purpose of a
forward area base is to protect a country from foreign enemies. Since the Cuban
Revolution of 1959, the US government has exploited Cold War animosities through
propaganda campaigns aimed at destabilizing the Republic of Cuba. The
antagonistic activities conducted through Guantanamo Bay NAS foster a mutual
distrust between the two countries, resulting in an increased security risk to both the
United States and Cuba.
Chapter three of this study examines the US acquisition of Guantanamo Bay
NAS. The US contends that based upon the Platt Amendment and the Treaty of
Relations of 1934, it has a legal right to continue operation of the base in perpetuity,
or until both countries mutually agree to terminate the contract. The US asserts that
both agreements were obtained through legal and binding methods, and that the US
Congress and the Republic of Cuba ratified the Platt Amendment and the treaty of
1934. Both documents provide the U.S the right of continued operation of the base
in perpetuity, or until both countries mutually agree to terminate the contract.
The fourth chapter of this study presents Cubas objections to the base.
Beginning with the forced acceptance of the Platt Amendment by the Cuban
Constitutional Convention of 1900, the legal and political methods used by the United
States to acquire and maintain Guantanamo Bay has been a source of contention
between the two countries. Cubas grievance over Guantanamo Bay NAS has
increased since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Cuba views the base as a violation
of its sovereignty and a symbol of continued US imperialism (Ricardo, 1994: 38).
Stark contrasts do exist between the positions of Cuba and the United States
regarding Guantanamo Bay NAS. Cuba continues to perceive a US invasion of the
island as the primary threat to Cuban security. The United States maintains it has no
interest in invading Cuba as expressed in a 1962 agreement peacefully ending the
Cuban Missile Crises. Potential resolutions to the dispute at Guantanamo Bay have
not been successfully resolved because of the antagonistic relationship maintained
by the US and Cuba. International arbitration and mediation methods have not been
attempted due primarily to suspension of relations between the two countries. The
final chapter of this study examines the affects that suspended relations cast upon
the base at Guantanamo Bay.
THE US ACQUISITION OF GUANTANAMO BAY NAS
Chapters One and Two of this study provide a historical background of
Guantanamo Bay NAS. In this chapter I will present various legal documents and
clarify the rationale of the acquisition and maintenance of Guantanamo Bay NAS
from the US perspective. Guantanamo Bay NAS has allowed the US a means to
promote friendship between the two countries, defend Caribbean shipping routes,
protect the Panama Canal, and to ensure the independence of the Republic of Cuba.
Admittedly, controversy and disagreements between the US and Cuba regarding
Guantanamo Bay have existed since the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898.
This chapter identifies and examines the US position regarding the inception
and maintenance of Guantanamo Bay as an active military base. The United States
maintains that it is a country governed by rule of law. Guantanamo Bay NAS was
legally created with the consent and encouragement of the Republic of Cuba. From
a US viewpoint, the base has peacefully served both countries for close to one
Guantanamo Bay NAS originated from a series of treaties and agreements
ratified and signed by both countries. Beginning with Cuban independence, the
documents and events leading to the establishment of the base are explained and
rationalized from a United States point of view throughout Chapter three. The role of
rationalized from a United States point of view throughout Chapter three. The role of
the US military government, the Platt Amendment, the provisional government and
the 1934 Treaty of Relations are examined in an attempt to explain US actions taken
to establish Guantanamo Bay NAS. The evolving military objectives and changing
activities of the base are identified. Finally, the role that Guantanamo Bay serves in
the United States' pursuit of national security is discussed.
From the US perspective, the primary impetus for establishing Guantanamo
Bay NAS was to ensure continued Cuban independence. The Republic of Cuba
defeated Spain in a war for independence, but the island could not defend its
sovereignty from future European colonialism attempts. The Treaty of Paris
charged the United States with being the responsible party for guaranteeing Cuban
independence. The US believed that a naval base located within the borders of
Cuba was required to fulfill its security obligation. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
served the global community by enabling the United States to patrol the shipping
lanes leading to the Panama Canal, which was finally completed in 1914.
The United States Marines occupied Cuba during the Spanish-American War
of 1898 and remained on the island as a military government (as mandated by the
Treaty of Paris) until Cuban independence in 1902. At the request of Cuban
President Tomas Estrada Palma, the United States reentered Cuba in 1906 to
restore peace and public confidence in the government of Cuba. A provisional
government was enacted and remained in effect until 1909 (NARA, 1995b).
The Platt Amendment and Cuban governmental invitation provided the United
States the legal authority to intercede in Cuban internal affairs and to formally lease
Guantanamo Bay from the Republic of Cuba. The Platt Amendment remained in
effect for over thirty years. The 1934 Treaty Between the United States of America
and the Republic of Cuba, known as the Treaty of Relations, abolished the US
authority to land troops in Cuba and reaffirmed the status of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
By the eve of the 19th Century, the island of Cuba had served Spain as a
profitable colony for close to three hundred years and was closely linked to the
mother country. The Spanish Armada allowed Spain to retain its colonies in the
Caribbean Sea, South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, despite the loss of European
(Gibraltar) and North American (Floridas) possessions during the 18th Century.
Napoleon's repeated invasions of Spain during the early decades of the 19th Century
weakened the empire and caused Spain to divert attention and resources away from
its New World colonies.
A steady decline of the Spanish Empire throughout the 19th Century
paralleled and fostered Cuba's desire for independence. In the 1880s, the US
gained control of the sugar industry, resulting in Cuba becoming the world's leading
producer of sugar. In 1894, nearly 90 percent of all Cuban exports were sent to the
US; allowing the United States to eclipsed Spain as Cuba's primary trading partner.
Economically and politically the Spanish grip on the island was unraveling
The first Cuban war for independence, known as the Ten Years War (1868-
1878) was launched in 1868 (Perez, 1986: 3). Ten years of insurrection extracted a
promise from Spain of Cuban autonomy. Political uncertainty in Spain prohibited a
timely implementation of an ambiguous autonomy plan resulting in a growing
discontentment in Cuba. The Ten Years War in Cuba served as a precursor to the
1895 Cuban insurrection and the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Jose Marti has been called the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." The
Spanish authorities banished Marti from Cuba at age 15 for political activities
detrimental to the government. Marti was sent to Spain to study and returned to
Cuba by way of the United States at the age of 22. Skilled as a poet and journalist,
Marti's cries for Cuban independence resulted in a second banishment from Cuba to
the United States of America in 1879 (Roig, 1995).
Returning from exile in New York City, Jose Marti led the Cuban
Revolutionary Party's second insurrection against Spain in 1895. The Cuban
Revolutionary Party declared Independencia o muerte (Independence or death).
Jose Julian Marti was killed at the age of 42 in one of the first encounters with
Spanish troops, but his memory propelled him into martyrdom (Roig, 1995).
Initially the Cuban resistance disrupted the tranquility of the island, but lack of
modern weaponry and sustained guerilla tactics could bring only limited success to
the Cuban rebellion. The Cuban insurrection was met by an equally determined
Spanish Army intent upon maintaining the colony. Cuba was to be saved at all
costs. The Madrid government authorized a strategy borrowed from the Cuban
revolutionaries known as a Reconcentration Policy (Perez, 1986: 3). Spanish
General Valeriano Weyler sought to limit the guerrillas' abilities to hide among
civilians. The Reconcentration Policy forced rural citizens into garrisoned cities while
the advancing Spanish armies devastated the Cuban countryside. The Cuban
guerrillas were effectively denied supplies and recruits to sustain its army. The
Reconcentration Policy helped the Spanish to identify and target Cuban insurrectos.
Following the battles for independence and implementation of the
Reconcentration Policy, economic life in Cuba was paralyzed. Burned cane fields
crippled the island's sugar industry, resulting in thousands of unemployed peasants.
Unable to feed themselves, refugees were forced to flee their homes to the security
of the cities. The Spanish Reconcentration Policy proved to be an effective tool to
combat the Cuban rebellion. Sickness and starvation plagued the people of Cuba by
late 1897. The Spanish government appeared to be stalemating the Cuban
revolution, but vivid news reports of war atrocities were slowly turning public opinion
in the United States in favor of Cuban independence. The US Congress authorized
$50,000 to assist US citizens and property (cane fields) destroyed by the
"reconcentrado" efforts of Spain (Ojeda, 1998). The political conditions in Cuba, a
mere 90 nautical miles away, were becoming increasingly important to the US.
The revolutionary cause of the Cubans intrigued a generally sympathetic US
public. Beginning in 1895, the US Congress entertained several resolutions
promoting and supporting Cuban independence and providing a limited measure of
financial assistance. In 1896, a concurrent resolution was passed by the US House
and Senate, declaring "...that, in the opinion of Congress, the United States
government should extend belligerent rights (state of being at war) to the so-called
Republic of Cuba...(Congressional Record)." The executive branch of the US
government chose to ignore this resolution, but a pro-Cuban sentiment in the US
continued to grow.
Colonial Spain was growing increasingly uneasy over a potential US military
intervention in Cuba. Spain granted Cuba limited autonomy in November of 1897 as
an appeasement strategy toward the United States. Unfortunately for Spain, Cuba
rejected the autonomy offer and US intervention became imminent.
Political tensions between the US and Spain escalated in early 1898 with the
sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. Public opinion in the US, bolstered by
war fever, blamed Spain for a mysterious explosion aboard the USS Maine resulting
in the loss of US lives. In April of 1898, Colorado Senator Henry M. Teller proposed
a Declaration of War against Spain. The fourth section of the declaration stated that
the United States: "...hereby disclaims any disposition of intention to exercise
sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island except for pacification thereof, and
asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and
control of the island to its people (Hernandez, 1998).
The Declaration of War, known as the Teller Amendment, expressly
prohibited annexation of Cuba by the United States. President McKinley signed the
Joint Resolution for War against Spain on April 19, 1898 (Public Affairs Office, 1998).
Thus, it can be argued that the United States declared war against Spain to ensure
the freedom and independence of Cuba, and to protect life and property of US
citizens and businesses operating on the island.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a brief military engagement.
Immediately following a formal declaration of war, the United States landed troops at
Guantanamo Bay, Santiago and Havana, Cuba. Within a few months Spain realized
the hopelessness of contesting the US military and sought French assistance in
ending the conflict. On August 11,1898 the United States Secretary of State and the
French Ambassador (representing Spain) convened to negotiate the Protocol of
Peace, and a cease-fire was announced the next day (Encarta, 1997c).
On December 1,1898 the Treaty of Paris was signed by plenipotentiaries
representing the US and Spain. This treaty ended several centuries of Spanish
control over the island of Cuba. On New Years Day, 1899, crowds of Cubans lined
the streets of Havana to witness the defeated Spanish troops prepare for their long
voyage home. Precisely at noon, General Adolfo Jimenez Castellano, the last
Spanish Governor of Cuba formally relinquished control of the colony to General
James Wage, head of the American Evacuation Commission. The noise of jubilant
Cubans filled the street as the Spanish flag was lowered one final time. The treaty
decreed that the United States of America was now responsible for governing the
isle of Cuba (Library of Congress, 1998).
United States Military Government in Cuba
The terms of the Treaty of Paris mandated that the United States administer
a military government in Cuba. Spain was required to relinquish Cuba to the US in
trust for the inhabitants of the island. The United States was not authorized to annex
or incorporate Cuba into the US. Article XVI of the Treaty of Paris reads:
"It is understood that any obligations assumed in the treaty by the
United States with respect to Cuba are limited to occupancy thereof;
but it will upon termination of such occupancy, advise a Government
established in the island to assume the same obligations (Encarta
Spain was liable for all international debt maintained by its former colony. The treaty
marked a dismantling of Spain's colonial empire and the advent of the United States
as a world power.
Major General John R. Brooke officially established the US military
government of Cuba on December 28, 1898 in accordance with Presidential General
Order 184 (NARA, 1995a). The stated functions of the military government were to
administer a civilian government and to maintain order until the recognition of a
sovereign Republic of Cuba. The military government was abolished on May 20,
1902 by transfer of sovereignty to the Republic of Cuba (NARA, 1995a).
Prevailing political thought and policy on the eve of the 20th Century could
have inspired the United States to claim Cuba from Spain as spoils of war. Senator
William E. Chandler of New Hampshire actually suggested that the United States
demand $100,000,000 in interest- bearing bonds as a reimbursement for the costs of
the Spanish-American War (Healy, 1963: 156). Senator Chandler later retracted his
demand in response to protest within the Senate chambers.
The US did not seek annexation of Cuba due to the Teller Amendment
passed prior to the war. The Teller Amendment avowed intentions of annexation
and pledged the United States toward the creation of an independent Cuba. In
accordance with the Teller Amendment, US troops occupied the island after the
Spanish troops left in 1898 and only until a new Cuban constitution was in effect in
1902. The Teller Amendment limited US intervention in Cuba to acts of
"pacification. The Teller Amendment was not written to provide an unconditional
abandonment of Cuba after the Spanish-American War, but to ensure independence
for the republic.
The Platt Amendment
The Cuban Constitutional Convention began discussions on a new
constitution in Havana on November 5, 1900 (Healy, 1963: 150). The convention
produced a new Cuban Constitution and incorporated the US-sponsored Platt
Amendment outlining the terms of future US-Cuban relations, including the
establishment of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The US military government
continued to administrate the civil government of Cuba and was authorized to vacate
the island only upon ratification of a Cuban constitution. The Cuban Constitutional
Convention was motivated to draft a constitution to hasten the departure of the US
military. A primary concern of the United States was whether or not the new
Republic of Cuba could maintain its independence from foreign powers.
The Monroe Doctrine has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy since
1823; however, the doctrine is not recognized in international law. President John
Quincy Adams declared in the Monroe Doctrine that the Americas were no longer
open for European colonization. The United States realized that by insisting that the
Platt Amendment be included in the new Cuban Constitution, precedent could be
achieved for the principles of the Monroe Doctrine. Establishing a precedent of
intervention in Cuba could provide the authority to intervene in future situations
involving similar circumstances. The Platt Amendment would provide the United
States internationally recognized authority to bolster, advise and defend the newly
recognized Republic of Cuba.
The US was determined to ensure the fragile republic's independence from
all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to prevent Cuba from reverting back into
disorder and revolution. The United States felt it was necessary to maintain a
military presence in Cuba to ensure continued stability. US lawmakers embarked
upon the task of drafting and attaching the Platt Amendment to the Cuban
Constitution. The Platt Amendment is the primary legal instrument validating the
establishment of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The preamble of the amendment
"... the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the
Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the
island of Cuba, withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and
Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use
the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these
resolutions into effect...(US Government Printing Office 1971).
The preamble recognized that in order to enforce the evacuation of Spain, the US
required a military base on the island of Cuba.
In exchange for independence and security, Cuba agreed to several
concessions to the United States, which were defined in the Platt Amendment.
Article I forbade Cuba from entering into a treaty with any foreign power which could
impair the independence of Cuba. This article was written to provide Cuba a legal
means to reject any future advances of colonial powers. Article I was inspired by the
Teller Amendment prohibiting US annexation of Cuba.
Cuba consented in Article III of the Platt Amendment to the right of the US to
intervene in Cuban political affairs. The primary impetus of this article was to ensure
the preservation of Cuban independence, maintenance of a stable government, and
protection of life, property and liberty. The US military government and the
provisional government were established under the authority of Article III.
Originally the United States considered creating several naval bases in Cuba.
Article VI of the Platt Amendment stated that the Isle of Pines shall be omitted from
the boundaries of Cuba and negotiated in a future treaty. The Isle of Pines is a small
island in the Cuban archipelago located on the northwest side of the main island.
The US viewed the Isle of Pines as a potential naval base to augment the services
performed at Guantanamo Bay. Cuban resistance and lack of military need for an
additional base compelled the United States to relinquish any claim of title to the Isle
of Pines in a 1904 treaty. This treaty was ratified in 1925 officially removing the Isle
of Pines from United States military consideration (US Dept, of State, 1961).
Article VII of the Platt Amendment explicitly enabled the United States to
lease the lands of Guantanamo Bay for a coaling or naval station. The article states
that in order to maintain independence, the government of Cuba will sell or lease
land to the US for a coaling or naval station. The United States believed that the
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was essential to provide a guarantee of Cuban
independence. Subsequent treaties demarcated the exact location of the desired
lands surrounding Guantanamo Bay. Included in the treaties was an annual rent
payment of $2,000 in gold coin by the US to Cuba (Public Affairs Staff, 1998).
1934 Treaty Between the United States of America and Cuba
(Treaty of Relations^
According to official US policy, the US leadership in the Caribbean region
provided stability to developing countries emerging from colonialism. Cuba, Haiti
and the Dominican Republic all achieved independence in the 19th and early 20th
Centuries. A continued US military presence in the region was deemed essential for
each country to establish a stable government and maintain its independence. The
events of World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s and a growing
dissatisfaction with US gunboat diplomacy in the region caused the United States
government to reevaluate its military commitments in the Caribbean (Cable, 1994).
President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted a "Good Neighbor Policy" in Latin
America aimed at recognizing that all states should be treated as equals. Latin
American countries welcomed the reversal of military-driven intervention policies. In
1934, President Roosevelt directed Secretary of State Cordell Hull to begin
negotiations with Cuba aimed at modifying the existing Platt Amendment, and it was
in this context that the Treaty of Relations emerged.
Both countries agreed upon the Treaty of Relations, which finally abrogated
the Platt Amendment. Article II of the treaty declared that all acts conducted by the
United States during its military occupation of the island had been ratified and held
as valid, and that all rights legally acquired by virtue of those acts should be
maintained and protected. It was necessary to legitimize US conduct in Cuba to
ensure that a legal transition of sovereignty did occur between Spain, the United
States and the Republic of Cuba.
Article III stated that the stipulations regarding the naval stations at
Guantanamo Bay were to remain in effect. The original lease agreements did not
include a termination date of the contract. Specifically, Article III states: "...So long
as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station at
Guantanamo or the two governments shall not agree to a modification of its present
limits, the station shall continue to have the territorial area that it now has...(Avalon
Project 1996-1999). In short, there is no 99-year lease of Guantanamo Bay. The
contract remains in effect unless the US abandons the base or the two countries
mutually agree to modify the treaty.
By 1934, the Republic of Cuba had existed for over thirty years and no longer
required US assistance in maintaining its independence. The first world war and a
global economic recession had effectively restrained European colonialism. Several
factions of Cuban citizens were eager to assume full responsibility for government of
the island and the United States government appeared equally anxious to relinquish
the economic and political responsibility for overseeing the Republic of Cuba. The
Treaty of Relations was signed in an attempt to foster the mutual friendship firmly
established between the two countries (Avalon Project 1996-1999).
Today, the Treaty of Relations remains in effect between the US and Cuba.
The US has neither abandoned Guantanamo Bay nor have the two countries
mutually agreed to modify the treaty, thus the status or Guantanamo Bay remains
unchanged since 1934.
International law and US law acknowledges the premise of pacta sunt
servanda within contract law. Pacta sunt servanda is the binding character of an
agreement (UNIDROIT, 1994: Article 1.3). Once an agreement has been
concluded, this principle mandates that the agreement must be honored. One
exception to pacta sun servanda is that a contract may be modified or terminated
whenever all parties mutually agree to do so, as stated in Article III of the Treaty of
Relations. Article 62, sections 1 -3 of the Vienna Convention of the Laws of Treaties
declares that, "a fundamental change of circumstances may not be invoked as
grounds for terminating or withdrawing from a treaty (Vienna Convention, 1969)."
The Republic of Cuba and the US have both ratified and signed the Law of Treaties.
The United States has consistently maintained that the status of political and
diplomatic relations between the two countries has no effect upon the of
Guantanamo Bay NAS. Article 63 of the Vienna Convention of the Laws of Treaties
supports the US position by stating that severing of diplomatic relations between
parties involved in a treaty does not affect the legal relations established by the
treaty. In short, the Treaty of Relations cannot be terminated without the consent of
the United States. Thus, the US maintains that it has a legal right to occupy
Guantanamo Bay NAS based upon the 1934 Treaty of Relations.
Changing Responsibilities of Guantanamo Bay NAS
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was originally created to serve as a fuel depot
and to provide the United States Navy a means of ensuring Cuban independence. In
1914, the US completed a multinational effort to construct a trans-isthmus canal
across Panama. Technological advances soon rendered the coaling station obsolete;
however, the US Marines at Guantanamo, Cuba readily assumed responsibility for
defense of the Panama Canal (Public Affairs Staff, 1998).
During the early years of the Cuban Republic, threats to the stability of the
government came from within the country. The United States military responded
upon several occasions with military and administrative assistance. The United
States established a Provisional Government in Cuba in 1906 at the request of
President Palma (NARA, 1995b). The stated functions of the Provisional
Government were to restore order and conduct a census of the citizens. The
purpose of the census was to prepare Cuba for free elections and the restoration of a
civilian government. The Provisional Government was abolished on January 28,
1909 with the inauguration of Cuban President Alfredo Zeyes (NARA, 1995b). The
reinstatement of civilian authority on the island allowed the US to withdraw all military
troops back to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
The Treaty of Paris and the Platt Amendment assigned the United States
government the responsibility of maintaining Cuban independence. The US
Department of Defense faced several logistical, technological and cultural obstacles
while attempting to comply with the Treaty of Paris. A resourceful US government,
determined to comply with its treaty obligations and expand the defense capabilities
of the United States of America, met each challenge.
Beginning in the 1920s, the US Navy rotated personnel from both the Atlantic
and Pacific Fleets through Guantanamo Bay in short training assignments. Post-
World War I demobilization and technological innovations created a generation of
soldiers who were cross-trained in military hardware capable of defending the United
States (and Cuba) from the land, air and sea. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
provided facilities for artillery, aircraft and submarine training exercises (Public Affairs
World War II required a complete mobilization of Guantanamo Bay NAS. The
base served as the centerpiece of the Caribbean region defense strategy. The
United States and Cuba cooperated as allies during the war. The US established
three additional military bases in Cuba during WW II. San Julian Air Field, Santa Fe
Air Base and La Fe Naval Air Station, Cuba were all used by the US and British
military from 1942-1945 (Coletta, 1987: 187). The Cuban Air Force was a
beneficiary of the United States' WW II lend lease program. The US implemented a
lend-lease program to supply weapons and equipment to countries fighting the
Germany-ltaly-Japan Axis. Cuban airfields were used as a means to repay US lend
lease donations. After the war, the bases were decommissioned and the aircraft
became the foundation of a modern Cuban Air Force (Lanz, 1999).
Relations between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the
United States of America deteriorated immediately after the war and degenerated
further with the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53). Cold War hostilities required
Guantanamo Bay NAS to expand its facilities to include aircraft carriers and nuclear
weapon submarines. The US military continued to emphasize the defensive posture
of the base by focusing upon fleet training exercises, improvement of transportation
infrastructure, and expansion of family quarters (Public Affairs Staff, 1998).
Cuba and the US further enhanced friendly relations by signing a bilateral
military agreement in Havana on January 10, 1956 (Public Affairs Staff, 1998). The
agreement covered the supply of military hardware to naval units of both countries
without advance payment. The United States supported and assisted Cuba with the
development of the new Caimanera Naval Post located in Caimanera, Cuba, just
across Guantanamo Bay.
On the eve of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Guantanamo Bay had been in
existence for almost sixty years. The base had evolved from a coaling station, to a
training and supplies base, and was currently being modeled by the government of
Cuba for the establishment of the Caimanera Naval Post. From a US perspective,
Guantanamo Bay NAS was a defensive facility representing international
cooperation between the US and Cuba.
Guantanamo Bay NAS became the center of Cold War political attention in
the late 1950s. The tranquility of the base was shattered by guerrilla activities that
eventually led to the overthrow of the Cuban government of President Batista. In
1959, the July 26 Movement under the leadership of Fidel Castro seized control of
Cuba. Guantanamo Bay NAS responded with increased security measures at the
base. Cuban territory was declared off limits to US servicemen and fence line
security at the base was upgraded. Armed guard posts and trained watchdogs were
the precursors to land mines and an equally armed Cuban security force posted just
outside the base boundaries.
The United States of America officially recognized the Revolutionary
Government of Cuban on January 6, 1959; however, US policymakers promoted a
"wait and see" attitude toward the Revolution (Bender, 1975:15). Vice-President
Richard M. Nixon's meeting with Fidel Castro in 1959 served to confirm suspicions
that Cuba was on the path to communism (Bender, 1975: 16). President Dwight D.
Eisenhower suspended relations between the two countries and Guantanamo Bay
NAS was asked to assume the responsibility as a vanguard against the spread of
communism in the Caribbean. Guantanamo could no longer operate as a strictly
defensive base. US national security was perceived as being threatened if
international communism were allowed to infiltrate the Cuban political system.
The confrontational activities of the 1960s involving the United States and
Cuba have been sufficiently documented and are beyond the scope of this study.
The suspension of diplomatic relations, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuba Missile
Crisis, and the exportation of the revolution were all part of a chain of mutually hostile
events that threatened the national security of Cuba and the United States.
The role of Guantanamo Bay NAS during this period is not entirely clear.
Certainly Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) counterrevolutionary efforts have been
staged from Guantanamo Bay NAS; however, the Bay of Pigs invasion did not
originate from Guantanamo Bay NAS. The US government has repeatedly refused
to comment upon the exact scope or magnitude of CIA activities previously or
currently conducted through Guantanamo Bay NAS.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Cuban officials documented
hundreds of violations of Cuban airspace (Ricardo, 1994: 50). The US government
has never refuted such incidents, but has maintained that U-2 high-altitude,
reconnaissance flights over Cuba were not aggressive in nature, but a necessary
tactic of waging peace. The planes carried photographic equipment and could not
be interpreted as a threat to the Republic of Cuba. Despite the unwanted intrusion,
the information and photos garnered by the U-2 program did serve to reduce
tensions between the two countries and maintain a fragile peace. Cuban records of
the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Border Patrol Museum of History, concede that
since the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, airspace violations
by the US have reduced dramatically (Ricardo, 1994: 50).
. During the 1970s and 1980s, US and Cuban relations ebbed and flowed,
but substantial progress toward normalized relations was not achieved. President
Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength" politics of the 1980s demanded that
Guantanamo Bay NAS be flaunted as a symbol of democracy on the island. Troop
levels at the base fluctuated, especially during the 1980s, but the defensive posture
of the base was compromised as the US and Cuba engaged in an ideological
struggle in Central America. The United States government projected a belief that
Guantanamo Bay NAS was necessary to maintain a containment of communism.
The dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1989 and suspension of military aid to
Cuba in the early 1990s allowed Guantanamo Bay NAS to "stand down" and return
to its defensive posture. During the height of agitation between the US and Cuba,
approximately 50,000 antipersonnel land mines were placed in the buffer zone along
the fence line boundaries of Guantanamo Bay NAS (US Dept, of Defense, 1997).
President Bill Clinton has since ordered the mines to be removed and replaced by
motion and sound sensors.
The role of the base shifted again in the 1990s from defiance of communism
to promoting humanitarian relief. Protection of human rights is one of several
bilateral issues affecting the relations of Cuba and the United States. Guantanamo
Bay NAS has been called upon to house and process hundreds of thousands of
international refugees during the 1990s. The facilities at Guantanamo Bay are
currently being utilized to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees from Kosovo.
Guantanamo Bay NAS was established nearly one hundred years ago by
treaties and agreements signed by the United States and Cuba. The right of the
base to exist was recognized by the Platt Amendment and reaffirmed in the 1934
Treaty of Relations, which remains in effect. Upon taking power in 1959, Fidel
Castro stated that the revolutionary government would respect all existing
international treaties (Smith, Dominguez, 1988: 98). If and when the US relinquishes
its right to Guantanamo Bay, I believe it will ultimately require a political, not a
military solution to resolve the differences between the two countries regarding
ownership of Guantanamo Bay.
United States Defense Strategy
The primary defense-related objectives of the United States government are
to provide for the protection of lives and property of US citizens both at home and
abroad. To achieve its goals, the US engages in global leadership designed to
maintain an environment of security. The United States is committed to maintaining
a strong defense capability, while promoting peace through strength. The US is
eager to engage in security agreements with countries committed to non-aggressive
peace. International collaboration is a means of attaining security. While the United
States asserts that it does not seek to be the world police, the US is ready and willing
to protect its interests with force if necessary (US Dept, of Defense, 1996).
Post-Cold War security challenges are being met throughout the world with
increased partnership and security relationships. The US has expressed varying
levels of commitment to supporting United Nations peacekeeping efforts.
Guantanamo Bay NAS is one of approximately 800 US overseas military installations
ranging from radio sites to major air bases (Foreign Policy in Focus, 1998).
According to official military policy, the United States forces must be capable
of neutralizing the military power of regional states with interests opposed to the US.
Since the Revolution of 1959, Cuba has consistently opposed US-led efforts to
promote democracy and stability in the Caribbean and Central American region.
Guantanamo Bay NAS continues to provide a symbol of US strength in hopes of
helping to deter aggression against US allies and interests.
The United States' defense strategy relies upon superior military capabilities,
and a determination to influence events beyond its borders. By providing leadership
the United States is successful in promoting peace. Guantanamo Bay is one of
numerous overseas military installations that provide the United States the ability to
defend and advance its interests and to remain the preeminent promoter of global
CUBA'S OBJECTIONS TO GUANTANAMO BAY NAS
The United States and Cuba maintain conflicting opinions regarding the
continued US presence at Guantanamo Bay NAS. Though no longer required to
maintain Cuban independence, the US promotes the base at Guantanamo as an
example of international cooperation and a vital component of national security. The
first two chapters of this study provide a historical background of Guantanamo Bay
NAS. Chapter Three of this study presents the means and justifications behind the
US acquisition and deployment of military personnel at Guantanamo Bay NAS. The
purpose of this chapter is to present and examine Cuban objections to the US
occupation of Guantanamo Bay.
A military installation entrenched upon the soil of a foreign country is subject
to the terms and conditions of the host nation. The governments of the United
States and Cuba originally established Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as a means to
ensure Cuban independence. The Platt Amendment and the first lease agreement
contain language requiring the US military base at Guantanamo Bay to ensure the
independence of the Republic of Cuba. Throughout the 20th Century, relations
between the two countries have changed from a guarded friendship to open hostility.
Cuba maintains that the activities conducted at Guantanamo Bay have exceeded the
During negotiations conducted at the time of Cuban independence, the
United States and the Republic of Cuba mutually agreed to various restrictions of the
activities of the US troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay. The coaling station at
Guantanamo Bay was limited by treaty to activities consistent with a fuel depot and a
forward area naval base. Guantanamo Bay was never authorized to serve as a US
intelligence gathering installation; however, the United States has continually
conducted unauthorized surveillance overflights of Cuban territory. Between 1959
and 1985, Cuba documented and reported 7,278 violations of Cuban airspace to the
US government (Smith, Dominguez, 1988: 109). The majority of the violations
consisted of aerial photograph reconnaissance missions conducted by US spy
Guantanamo Bay NAS is occupied by means of conditional leases, not a
purchase agreement. Contract law decrees that when the terms of an agreement
are violated the agreement may be subject to termination. Article 601 of the Vienna
Convention provides: A material breach of a bilateral treaty by one of the parties
entitles the other to invoke the breach as a ground for terminating the treaty or
suspending its operation in whole or part.
The continued US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is perhaps the most
unusual aspect of contemporary United States-Cuba relations. The base is a symbol
of a colonial relationship finally severed in 1959. Cuban President Fidel Castro
describes the base: "There is a base on our island territory directed against Cuba
and the revolutionary government of Cuba, in the hands of those who declare
themselves enemies of our country, enemies of our revolution, enemies of our
people (Bender, 1975: 110). Cuba no longer desires a US base within its borders,
(it is questionable if it ever did) but is forced to tolerate the facility due to an inability
to militarily or diplomatically expel the US from Guantanamo Bay.
Since the founding of the base, the United States government has engaged
in paternalistic policies of intervention resulting in US neo-colonialism in Cuba. Neo-
colonialism is essentially economic domination by a colonial power over a developing
state. US military intervention on the island in 1898 superceded Cuban efforts to end
a colonial system of government imposed by Spain. The US military government of
1899-1902 served to strengthen existing colonial institutions on the island. In 1902
the Cuban Republic was inaugurated before colonialism was extirpated from the
island. The Platt Amendment transferred the responsibility of Cuban survival from
Spain to the US (US Government Printing Office, 1971).
Intentions to establish hegemony, or leadership exercised by the United
States, throughout the hemisphere were declared by the US in the Monroe Doctrine
of 1823. Hegemony in Cuba was successfully implemented through the Platt
Amendment. Beginning with the armed intervention of 1898 and the military
occupation of 1899-1902, and followed by the intervention and occupation of 1906-
1909, the United States attempted to re-create Cuba in its own image. In pursuit of
hegemony, the United States opened Cuba to capitalism and ensured continued
dependency upon the US military for defense of the island. The imposition of
hemispheric hegemony fostered nationalistic tensions and set the Republic of Cuba
on a collision course with the United States (Perez, 1986: xvii).
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 ended US neo-colonialism efforts in Cuba,
resulting in open confrontation between the two countries. Since the Cuban
Revolution, the US has engaged in the practice of attempting to violently overthrow
Fidel Castro. In 1994, the United States' Central Intelligence Agency declassified a
Secret 1967 CIA Inspector General's Report on plots to assassinate Fidel Castro
(Escalante, 1996: 3). In the report, the CIA Inspector General acknowledges eight
attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro from 1959 through 1975 (Escalante, 1996: 3).
Guantanamo Bay NAS was established through legal instruments including
the Platt Amendment and the 1934 Treaty of Relations. The US designated the
acceptance of the Platt Amendment which established the base at Guantanamo Bay
as a condition for withdraw of US troops (Krasner, 1999: 39). International
agreements are subject to the principles of consent and rebus sic stantibus or "at this
point in affairs", meaning that the treaty is understood to be valid within the context of
present conditions. Changed conditions between states can be cause for
termination of an agreement. The treaties and agreements providing for the creation
of Guantanamo Bay NAS can be challenged on a legal perspective that the original
agreements are obsolete because of changed conditions and relations between the
United States and Cuba.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was designated in the Platt Amendment for
use as a coaling or naval station by the US Navy. The base has displayed
continually changing use patterns and is currently serving as an international refugee
center. This could be interpreted by the Cuban government as a direct violation of
the Platt Amendment and the first leasing agreement and could be considered cause
for revoking or terminating the agreement.
Finally, Cuban security considerations are threatened by unbridled US
military operations conducted at Guantanamo Bay NAS. Cuba is a small country
with absolutely no history of ever violating the territory of the US; however, the
US have subjected Cuba to numerous documented acts of aggression. Land
invasions, violations of Cuban airspace and radio interference have served to create
an unstable environment of non-cooperation between Cuba and the US.
The Republic of Cuba views the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay NAS as
a violation of its sovereignty (Smith and Dominguez, 1988: 109). A precise definition
of sovereignty is not universally recognized. The term sovereignty is multi-
dimensional and can been used in four different ways-international legal sovereignty,
Westphalian sovereignty, domestic sovereignty, and interdependence sovereignty
(Krasner, 1999). International sovereignty refers to the practices associated with
recognition of states, usually between territories that have formal judicial
independence (as do the US and Cuba). Westphalian sovereignty involves a
political entity demanding the exclusion of external authority within its borders. The
general rule for Westphalian sovereignty is to exclude external actors from the
territory of the state (Krasner, 1999: 4). Cuba, a sovereign state, demands that the
US acknowledge its international and Westphalian sovereignty. The status of
Guantanamo Bay remains unresolved, due in part to a difference of opinion between
the US and Cuba over sovereignty rights.
The Cuban government has consistently maintained that the US presence at
Guantanamo Bay is in conflict with Cuba's right to exercise ultimate sovereignty over
the leased areas of Cuban soil. Lease of territory, regardless of the length of
contract, does not bestow title or create changes in sovereignty (Von Glahn, 1996:
16). Lease treaties effect only a transfer of jurisdictional rights, not the relinquishing
of territory. Sovereignty rights are exercised by the leasing state, but title to the
territory is retained by the state granting the lease. This remains true even when the
lease entails a constructive relinquishment of territory, such as Guantanamo Bay in
Cuba (Lazar, 1969: Vol. 63, p.116).
The US supported Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain throughout
the second half of the 19th Century. At the time of the Spanish-American War, the
United States announced their intention to recognize and promote Cuban
independence and sovereignty. Prior to the establishment of Guantanamo Bay NAS,
the United States issued a Joint Resolution of US Congress Declaring War against
Spain. Section IV of the Resolution disclaimed "...any disposition or intention to
exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island...(Public Affairs Staff,
1998). Upon successfully defeating Spain in 1898, the Cuban Revolutionary Party
fully expected the US to recognize, without condition, the Republic of Cuba as a
sovereign state; however, Cuban representatives were excluded from the peace
negotiations conducted in Paris, France.
The United States' four-month involvement in Cuba's war with Spain served
to shift the perception and world opinion of the independence movement. Cuba's
independence from Spanish colonialism was upstaged by the US war against Spain.
At the conclusion of the war, the United States prohibited Cuban representatives
from participating in the peace protocol negotiations. The 1898 Treaty of Paris
allowed US imperialism to reap spoils of war by unseating Spain as the colonial ruler
of the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba (Encarta, 1997c).
During the Spanish-American war of 1898, the United States discovered the
strategic value of Guantanamo Bay. US determination to maintain permanent
control over the harbor after the war is reflected in the muddled sovereignty language
of the ensuing lease agreements. Article III of the 1903 Agreement Between the
United States and Cuba No. 418 states that:
"While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance
of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above
ascribed area of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of
Cuba consents that during the period of occupation by the United
States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United
States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control..."
In other words, the original lease agreement introduced a confusing and
ambiguous sovereignty language, which fostered independent interpretations by
both governments. The discrepancy over sovereignty has adversely affected US-
Cuban relations since the establishment of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Treaty agreements between states often result in a compromise of territorial
sovereignty. The United States government has interpreted the duality of
sovereignty expressed in Article III as a means of asserting unilateral rights to
Guantanamo Bay. The Cuban government has been forced to avoid confrontation
regarding the sovereignty of Guantanamo in fear that any aggressive act toward the
base could serve as a pretext for a US invasion of Cuba.
A leasing agreement by its very nature is a temporary contract between
consenting parties. The Platt Amendment and the second lease agreement
establish the principle of a "lease in perpetuity." Creating a lease agreement without
a fixed termination or renewal date is contrary to the limited intentions of a lease.
The permanent conditions of the Guantanamo Bay lease agreements contradict
Cuba's inalienable right to exercise sovereignty over all of Cuban territory.
Cuban constitutional law and international law links sovereignty to the
country, not an individual ruler. The Republic of Cuba expressly prohibits any
governmental official from signing any agreement that limits or impairs national
sovereignty or compromises Cuban territorial integrity (Ricardo, 1994: 20-21). The
Cuban government has never possessed the authority to cede or lease any part of
Cuba in perpetuity. Chapter 1, Paragraph 10 of the 1976 Cuban Constitution
considers illegal, null and void all treaties, pacts or concessions that stipulate or
acknowledge any conditions that relinquish or diminish Cuban sovereignty over any
portion of its national territory (Ricardo, 1994: 20-21).
The Platt Amendment and subsequent lease agreements ignore Cuban
sovereignty and sanction the pre-existing US occupation of Guantanamo Bay at the
end of the Spanish-American War of 1898. By negotiating the Treaty of Paris
exclusively with Spain, the United States essentially acquired Cuba through means
of conquest. The US Military Government imposed the 1903 lease agreements upon
Cuba while occupying the island. Cuban sovereignty continues to be ignored each
day the Stars and Stripes fly over Guantanamo Bay.
The Platt Amendment, 1903 lease agreements and the 1934 Treaty of
Relations constitute a series of contracts between the United States of America and
the Republic of Cuba. Contract agreements generally consist of four components:
parties capable of contracting, a lawful object, sufficient cause, and consent (Vienna
The Platt Amendment meets the first two components of a contract.
Sovereign countries do retain the ability to freely contract; therefore, parties capable
of contracting conducted the agreement. The motives behind the leasing of
Guantanamo Bay might have been self-serving, but the US pursuit of the base does
constitute a lawful object.
The third component of a contract, sufficient cause, provides an avenue for
contract termination. A contract can be abated for "cause" if a substantial failure by
either party to comply with the terms of the agreement occurs. The lease in
perpetuity clause of the Guantanamo Bay agreements could be interpreted as
ambiguous. Definitions of "cause" in termination of contracts generally require a
wrongful action by one of the parties. Lacking explicit knowledge of the exact intent
(regarding the lease in perpetuity) of the original framers of the Platt Amendment and
1934 Treaty of Relations, the contracts involving Guantanamo Bay cannot be
challenged for lack of cause.
International law mandates the principle of consent as a foundation of any
contractual agreement. If a contract is to remain valid, the agreement must be made
with the full, unrestrained consent of all interested parties. In order for the Platt
Amendment to comply with the principles of a contract, the Cuban government must
have accepted the agreement without condition. The origins of the Platt Amendment
indicate that Cuban consent was obtained through coercive methods.
Specifically, in 1900 under the direction of the United States Military
Government, Cuban officials assembled a Constitutional Convention. A completed
draft of a proposed constitution received conditional US approval. The US Military
Government reserved the right to insert clauses in the Cuban Constitution defining
relations between the United States and a not-yet independent Republic of Cuba
In 1901, US Secretary of War, Elihu Root and Senator Orville Platt drafted
and added what would be known as The Platt Amendment to the Cuban
Constitution. The Platt Amendment limited Cuba's ability to engage in international
contracts or treaties. Cuba was forced to recognize the legitimacy of the US Military
Government, provide the US the authority to intervene in Cuban internal politics, and
to permit the United States to lease land surrounding and including Guantanamo Bay
(Falk, 1992: 152).
Originally, Cuba sought to modify the proposed terms and wording of the
Platt Amendment, but the United States rejected any discussion of modifications and
linked ratification of the Platt Amendment in its exact form with the withdrawal of US
troops from the island. General Leonard Wood, US military governor of Cuba,
warned that if the amendment was not accepted, there would be no Republic of
Cuba (Ricardo, 1994: 19). The Platt Amendment was reluctantly accepted by the
Cuban Constitutional Convention, not with unrestrained consent, but under duress
from US troops. The Platt Amendment placed permanent restrictions upon Cuban
On June 12, 1901, Cuba ratified the amendment as the only alternative to
permanent military occupation by the United States (Sierra, 1999). In short,
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was established through fraud and coercion imposed
upon Cuba by the US government. The base was extracted from Cuba as spoils of
war and conquest. Military might, fraud and coercion violate the requirement of
consent required of a valid contract. The Platt Amendment should be rendered
invalid because the Republic of Cuba did not willingly consent to the contract. Thus,
anything emanating from the agreement, particularly the lease agreements and 1934
Treaty of Relations reaffirming the status of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, should
not be legally binding.
In 1934, the United States formally abrogated the Platt Amendment and
subsequent lease agreements, but reaffirmed the rights to Guantanamo Bay through
the Treaty of Relations. Immediately following the signing of the 1934 Treaty of
Relations, Cuban President Carlos Mendieta invited the US-based Foreign Policy
Association to create a non-governmental organization devoted to the research of all
aspects of Cuban political life (Foreign Policy Association, 1935: v). The
Commission on Cuban Affairs consisted of eleven US scholars. The Commission
members researched and published a final report addressing a variety of Cuban
concerns including the status of Guantanamo Bay.
In a report published in 1935, the Commission on Cuban Affairs stated that
the United States should surrender its lease of Guantanamo Bay. The commission
noted that the US base at Guantanamo is inconsistent with an independent Republic
of Cuba. In the opinion of the commission, "the United States should seriously
consider whether the retention of Guantanamo Bay will not cost more in political
misunderstanding than it is worth in military strategy (Foreign Policy Association,
1935: 499). Sixty-five years have passed since the warnings of the Commission on
Cuban Affairs were published. The US occupation of Guantanamo Bay NAS
continues to enact political, economic and military costs upon the citizens of the US
and the Republic of Cuba.
Rebus Sic Stantibus
Generally there are three internationally accepted conditions to void a treaty
contract. Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that a
treaty can be voided if it trespasses upon any one of the following conditions:
violations of provisions, impossibility of performance or rebus sic stantibus.
Arguments can be made that the treaties and agreements pertaining to Guantanamo
Bay NAS are in violation of all three conditions.
The changing use patterns of the base appear to violate a stated provision
contained in the Platt Amendment that the installation is to be used as a coaling
station or naval station. US intentions to lease Guantanamo Bay in perpetuity
constitute a breech of the condition of impossibility of performance. A lease is a
temporary agreement providing the owner an avenue to recover its property at a
given time. By leasing Guantanamo Bay to the US for an unspecified period of time,
both the governments of Cuba and the US appear to have violated Section 1 of the
Platt Amendment. Section 1 of the Platt Amendment reads in part "That the
government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty of other compact with any
foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of
Cuba...(US Government Printing Office, 1971). Granting a lease of Guantanamo
Bay to the United States is contrary to the language of the Platt Amendment.
After the 1959 Revolution, the basic circumstances of the base being a
vanguard of Cuban independence were drastically changed by the open hostility
between the two countries. Since the installment of Cuban President Fidel Castro,
the base has evolved into a tool of aggression against the Cuban government.
Guantanamo Bay NAS has relinquished all pretense or responsibility of maintaining
Cuban independence. A violation of any single condition is sufficient cause to
abrogate a treaty.
The most evident reason to terminate the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay
is in recognition of rebus sic stantibus. Specifically, Rebus sic stantibus is a doctrine
of international and domestic law that recognizes an agreement as binding only as
long as the fundamental conditions and expectations that existed at the time of the
original agreement remain unchanged. This principle is in contrast to the principle of
pacta sunt servanda or that an agreement must be honored (United Nations, 1969).
Numerous events have occurred since 1959 that could be interpreted as an
irrevocable change in US-Cuban relations. In January of 1961, the United States
broke all diplomatic relations with Cuba; however, the US government emphatically
stated that the status of Guantanamo Bay NAS would not change. The United
States arrogantly assumed responsibility for all decisions regarding the future
disposition of the base. The United States' severing of relations is effectively an act
of abandonment and could be viewed as grounds for termination of the agreement.
The failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in April of 1961 increased friction between the
US and Cuba. In an attempt to dislodge Fidel Castro, the US sponsored a military
assault on the island. A United States sponsored invasion of Cuba clearly violates
the spirit of friendship between nations as promoted in the 1934 Treaty of Relations.
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro grew increasingly concerned with
the possibility of a potential full-scale US invasion of Cuban Island.
Fourteen days in October of 1962 witnessed the world on the brink of nuclear
war. The Cuban Missile Crisis involved a showdown between US President John F.
Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev over Soviet nuclear missiles
installed in Cuba. Hostilities were averted as the Soviets disarmed the missiles in
exchange for a US pledge not to invade the island. Poor communications between
the United States and the Soviet Union were partly to blame for the crises. Wisely, a
"hotline" was established after the crisis between the Kremlin and the White House in
hopes of avoiding future nuclear confrontations. The termination of diplomatic
relations, Bay of Pigs Invasion and Cuban Missile Crisis are the foundation of a
distinct change in the conditions and expectations of both countries since the
inception of the treaties pertaining to Guantanamo Bay.
Cuba's objections to the Platt Amendment and subsequent 1934 Treaty of
Relations are based upon the premise that conditions and relations between the two
countries have changed since the signing of the agreement. The initial purpose of
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was to provide the US a means of ensuring Cuban
independence and to defend the Panama Canal. Mutual friendship and security
considerations between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba have
clearly changed since 1903. After the Revolution of 1959, the Cuban government
altered its perspective of Guantanamo Bay NAS from an expression of friendship to
a tool of aggression and a symbol of US imperialism.
Are contracts between states eternally binding? Given the fluctuating
characteristic of international relations, it appears irresponsible for any state to be a
party to a contract without a stipulated termination or renewal date. The Republic of
Cuba considers the Treaty of 1934 as being obsolete on a legal basis and the US
should be compelled to relinquish Guantanamo Bay (Ricardo, 1994: 20-21).
Historically, international treaties have been held to include rebus sic
stantibus, which allows interested parties to abrogate an agreement when the
conditions of the contract have changed. The obvious change of conditions and
relations between Cuba and the United States allows Cuba to assert a legitimate
claim for the abrogation of the 1934 Treaty of Relations. The land occupied by the
US naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba must be returned to the Republic of Cuba.
Cuban National Security Concerns
Guantanamo Bay is a significant component of Cuba's national security
concerns. The US, the largest military power the world has ever known, is located a
mere 90 miles to the north of the island. Cuba is surrounded by numerous US
military installations including the US Atlantic Fleet headquarters at Roosevelt
Roads, Puerto Rico, McDill and Homestead AFB bases located in Florida, and the
Atlantic Undersea Test Evaluations Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas. US Marine
and Naval personnel regularly conduct maneuvers employing conventional and
nuclear weapons in the waters near Guantanamo Bay NAS.
The US has a long documented history of aggression toward the Republic of
Cuba. Since the evacuation of the US military government in 1903, US troops have
re-entered the Republic of Cuba on four separate occasions: 1906-09 to restore
order and establish a stable government, 1912 to protect US interests in the
Province of Oriente and Havana, 1917-22 to protect US interests during an
insurrection, 1933 in support of President Gerardo Machada (Collier, 1993). The
1959 triumph of the Cuban revolution over the US-backed Dictator Fulgencio Batista
government was a humiliating defeat for the US.
In response to Fidel Castro's liberation, the US devised and implemented a
policy of covert actions designed to topple the Revolutionary government.
Specifically US President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized a "Program of Covert
Actions Against the Castro Regime" on March 17, 1960 (Diaz et al 1999). The
program included logistical support of Cuban paramilitary, the encouragement of
defections and migration, and numerous acts of aggression emanating from
Guantanamo Bay NAS. From 1962-1992, the Cuban government documented
13,255 acts of provocation originating from Guantanamo Bay NAS including the
discharging of weapons across the fence line, aiming cannons and tanks toward
non-occupied Cuban territory, and the occasional destruction of Cuban flags
(Ricardo, 1994: 29). The Cuban government has presented evidence of these
aggressive acts to the international community for over thirty years and the United
States has never denied any of the violations reported by the Cuban government.
The most significant evidence of aggression conducted by the United States
against Cuba was the 1961 unsuccessful Bay of Pigs Invasion. Organized by
President Eisenhower and authorized by President John F. Kennedy, the failed
invasion resulted in 176 fatalities and over 300 casualties of Cuban citizens (Diaz et
al, 1999). Although forbidden by treaty, the United States government is certainly
capable of utilizing the facilities at Guantanamo Bay NAS in any future attempt to
blockade or invade the island.
Cuba's security concerns regarding Guantanamo Bay NAS are heightened by
the current hostile attitude of the United States government. Since a removal of
Soviet troops from Cuba in 1991, the United States has increased its policy of
hostility toward Cuba through the passing of the Cuban Democracy Act and the
Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act.
The Cuban Democracy Act increased efforts to isolate the island by
tightening the US economic sanctions on Cuba. Foreign countries (Canada, France,
Great Britain) were subject to penalties by the US for investing in Cuba.
Congressman Robert Torricelli, the original sponsor of the Cuban Democracy Act
boasted that his bill would "bring Castro to his knees (Smith, 1994). The Cuban
Democracy Act provides continued support for a trade and investment embargo
against Cuba. The US Department of Treasury administers the restrictions against
doing business with Cuba. Compliance is enforced under the Trading With the
Enemy Act. Potential penalties can include up to $250,000 and ten years
imprisonment for individuals (including agents, officers and directors of corporate
offenders) and up to $1,000,000 for companies engaged in willful violations of the
embargo of Cuba (Clark, 1999). The United States has faced strong international
opposition for the continued imposition of bilateral economic sanctions levied against
the Republic of Cuba.
In 1996 the US Congress continued its legislative assault upon the Republic
of Cuba with the passage of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad)
Act. The purpose of the Libertad Act is to seek international sanctions against the
Castro government and offer enticements for a transitional government promoting a
democratically elected government. The Libertad Act codified previous presidential
executive orders supporting and enforcing the embargo of Cuba. The Libertad Act
ensures that the United States will continue a policy of attempting to destroy Cuba's
economy and starve the nation. US policies of economic assault upon Cuba have
grown increasingly unpopular in the global community. In November of 1997, the
United Nations General Assembly voted 143 in favor and two countries opposed
(Israel and Uzbekistan) to a resolution denouncing the United States' continued
economic embargo of Cuba (Tardji, 1998).
Both pieces of legislation serve to further isolate Cuba by tightening the
international restrictions enacted through the original 1962 economic embargo of
Cuba. The recent contentious immigration incident involving Elian Gonzalez, a 6-
year-old boy rescued at sea off the coast of Florida in November of 1999
demonstrates that current US-Cuban relations are exasperated to the point of
hostility. Antagonistic behavior from both countries continues to foster an unstable
environment for constructive dialogue regarding the future of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
The Guantanamo Bay NAS border with Cuba puts a tremendous financial
burden on the Republic of Cuba. During the 1980s, President Fidel Castro
implemented a military strategy known as the "War of all Peoples." Approximately
one million reserves and one and one half million militiamen were trained and
equipped to serve in the defense of Cuba (Smith, Dominguez, 1988: 105). The
increased cost of defense is inevitably reflected in a decrease in the quality of life on
the island. Continued engagement with the United States creates a permanent
negative impact on the economy and social development of Cuba.
The dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1990 resulted in an abrupt end to
military subsidies received from Moscow. Since the end of the Cold War, Cuba has
experienced a steady economic decline. The Gross National Product (GNP) of Cuba
has declined from $35.5 billion in 1989 to $22.5 billion in 1995 (SIRPI, 1997).
Military expenditures have been reduced from $1.4 billion in 1990, to $350,000,000
in 1995 (SIRPI, 1997). The Republic of Cuba is growing increasingly unable to
contend with the economic and psychological burden imposed by the US military
base at Guantanamo Bay. The citizens of Cuba will continue to suffer economic
hardship as long as they are required to shoulder the mounting financial burden
imposed by Guantanamo Bay NAS.
The US government continues to demonstrate an arbitrary and abusive will to
maintain a military base against the expressed wishes and interests of the host
country. The US government has dismantled dozens of military installations
worldwide since the end of the Cold War, yet Guantanamo Bay NAS remains intact.
The decommissioning of Guantanamo Bay would reduce a financial burden for both
militaries and increase international peace efforts between the US and Cuba.
Thus, the logic of maintaining Guantanamo Bay NAS is deconstructed in
Chapter Four through several areas. Given the history of the base and its current
usage, I believe that Guantanamo Bay NAS is an infringement of Cubas
sovereignty. Furthermore, Cuba, like the United States, should not be required to
compromise its sovereignty through a treaty agreement with any county. The
American presence at Guantanamo Bay NAS prohibits a full expression of Cuban
sovereignty over all areas of Cuban territory.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Guantanamo Bay NAS remains a classified, controlled access, active United
States military installation. The 17.4 mile militarized perimeter fence line separates
the US soldiers stationed at Guantanamo from the citizens of the Republic of Cuba.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was originally established to defend the Panama
Canal and ensure the stability of a newly independent Cuban Republic. At the dawn
of the 20th Century, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base provided the US a venue to install
a forward area military base and fuel depot.
The US government defeated Spain in1898 and took possession of the
Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Overseas military bases became
necessary at the end of the 19th Century to sustain and promote US naval forces
throughout the world. Guantanamo Bay is the site of the first US overseas military
The US military presence on the island enabled the fragile Republic of Cuba
a peaceful transition from Spanish colonialism to independence. Although Cuba
never fully embraced the US base at Guantanamo, US military might did provide the
Cuban government a means to repel any future colonial overtures from European
opportunists. Guantanamo Bay NAS afforded both governments a means to secure
their national interests.
Chapter One of this study serves as an introduction to the US naval facility
located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The purpose of this study is to challenge the
legitimacy of the United States' continued occupation of Guantanamo Bay. My
prevailing hypothesis throughout this study is that Guantanamo Bay NAS has
evolved from a military base originally established to protect a future trans-ocean
canal into a refugee-processing center, and that the base is no longer a critical
component of the US defense strategy.
Throughout the study I have questioned if the US government is justified in
maintaining Guantanamo Bay NAS, and have presented Cuban objections to the
base. Examination of historical records and government documents coupled with
interviews of former military and diplomatic personnel previously associated with the
base have allowed me to demonstrate that the activities conducted by the US military
at Guantanamo Bay NAS have become increasing non-military and are no longer in
the best interests of the host country.
During the 20th Century, Guantanamo Bay NAS has evolved from a military
support facility authorized by a friendly host government, into a staging facility used
to harbor international refugees. Guantanamo Bay NAS was originally established
within the borders of a friendly host government, but the base is now situated with
the territory of a country hostile to the US, hence bringing one to question its
Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the United States government has been in
open confrontation with the Cuban government. Undermining the Cuban Revolution
has been a mission that has stymied every US president since Dwight Eisenhower.
Guantanamo Bay has served as a focal point for political propaganda campaigns
initiated by both the United States and the Republic of Cuba. Successful foreign
policy requires continual scrutiny and reassessment of tactics and goals. Cuba and
the United States must continually re-evaluate their positions pertaining to the base
in an effort to secure their national interests and serve their citizens.
The second chapter of this study presents a historical background of the
evolution of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Direct US involvement on the island began with
US Marines landing at Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War of 1898.
US military intervention forced a swift conclusion to the war, and the 1898 Treaty of
Paris provided a limited independence to the Republic of Cuba under US
supervision. Negotiations conducted through the Platt Amendment allowed the US
to permanently station troops at Guantanamo Bay as a means of ensuring the
independence of the Republic of Cuba.
The history of Guantanamo Bay traces the development of base
infrastructure, accommodation of US military needs during WW I and WW II, and the
role of the base since the Revolution of 1959. Guantanamo Bay NAS has continually
responded to meet the changing needs of the United States government. Currently,
the primary purpose of the base is to provide logistical support to the US Caribbean
military operations, serve as a training facility, and to provide limited assistance to
selected US humanitarian operations.
The methods and rationale employed by the United States government to
acquire Guantanamo Bay NAS are examined in Chapter Three of this study. The US
military fought a war against Spain 1898. As a result of defeating Spain, the US
helped Cuba achieve its independence, and upon the conclusion of the war, the
Republic of Cuba signed the Platt Amendment formally authorizing the US to lease
the lands surrounding Guantanamo Bay. The 1934 Treaty Between the United
States and Cuba reaffirmed the status of Guantanamo Bay NAS. The United States
and Cuba had maintained friendly relations throughout much of the first half of the
20th Century; however, after the Revolution of 1959 US-Cuban relations quickly
deteriorated and in 1961 relations between the two countries were suspended. The
claims of the US government to Guantanamo Bay originate from legal documents
including the Platt Amendment, two subsequent lease agreements and the 1934
Treaty of Relations which are closely examined in Chapter three of this study.
A critical investigation of the US claims to Guantanamo Bay as well as
Cuba's objections to the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay are discussed in
Chapter Four. Specifically, the Republic of Cuba asserts that the contracts, lease
agreements, and treaties pertaining to Guantanamo Bay are no longer valid. The
Cuban government maintains that US control of Guantanamo Bay should be
relinquished due to a variety of issues including Cuban sovereignty, legal contractual
interpretations of the lease and treaty agreements invoking rebus sic stantibus and
Cuban national security concerns.
The positions of Cuba and the United States regarding Guantanamo Bay
NAS contrast greatly. The Cold War politics of the second half of the 20th Century
have polarized the two governments and created an atmosphere of political
intolerance. The purpose of this final chapter is to determine whether a compromise
or solution to the situation at Guantanamo Bay is available that could satisfy the
needs and interests of both countries.
The arguments posed by both countries regarding ownership of Guantanamo
Bay are extremely compelling. The Platt Amendment was attached to the Cuban
Constitution of 1901, and designated that the United States was entitled to lease the
lands and waters of Guantanamo Bay. Was the Platt Amendment forced upon the
Republic of Cuba as spoils of war? Leonard Wood, the US military governor of Cuba
in 1898, suggests that US troops would leave only upon acceptance of the Platt
Amendment (Ricardo, 1994: 19). Whatever substance this argument might have
held became moot in 1934. Upon the abrogation of the Platt Amendment in 1934,
the Republic of Cuba and the United States signed a treaty reaffirming the lease of
Guantanamo Bay (Encarta, 1997c).
The Treaty of 1934 remains the sole legal document responsible for the
continued lease of Guantanamo Bay. Cuba might have reasonable political
arguments for disputing the US occupation of the base, but the legal foundation for
the US military base at Guantanamo Bay is re-affirmed by the 1934 Treaty of
Relations. When Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959, his government gave
assurances that all existing international treaties would be honored, including the
Treaty of Relations authorizing the US occupancy of Guantanamo Bay (Smith,
Dominguez, 1988: 99).
A fundamental responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety of its
citizens. At the time of the establishment of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was an infant
republic unable to defend itself from potential European expansionist empires.
However, evidence suggests that the United States extracted the base from Cuba
through coercive means. As outlined in Chapter Four, the Cuban government has a
reasonable argument that the Platt Amendment fails to meet the obligations of a
contract and anything emanating from the agreement such as the Treaty of Relations
is also invalid.
The dilemma of Guantanamo Bay should not be debated solely within the
context of international law. It is my assertion that solutions to Guantanamo Bay will
be discovered through diplomatic dialogue between the United States and Cuba.
The uncertain future of the base is directly related to the confrontational attitude
continually expressed by both governments. Guantanamo Bay is one of several
unresolved bilateral issues between the two countries. An outright return of the base
to Cuba is not a viewed as a viable option by the US government. The United States
would view the relinquishing of the base as a major concession. Such a concession
would require reciprocation from the Cuban government. Prior to exploring
negotiation ground rules for the return of the base, the US and Cuba needs to re-
evaluate their current methods of conflict resolution.
Dispute Resolution Options
Several avenues of dispute resolution, short of military conflict, are available
to governments engaged in discord. The most direct method for the US and Cuba to
obtain a settlement regarding Guantanamo Bay is through diplomatic dialogue.
Requesting recourse through a foreign court such as the International Court of
Justice is a second method available to reconcile international disputes. Each
potential dispute resolution procedure will be discussed in order to determine if either
method could be employed to resolve the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay.
Direct diplomatic dialogue is currently not available to the governments of the
US and Cuba. The US severed diplomatic relations in 1961 and official
communications between the two countries have never been restored. Section 201,
Article 13 of the Cuban Libertad Act of 1996 states that the US would consider
restoration of diplomatic recognition when the President determines that a
democratically elected government exists in Cuba. In order to fully understand the
complexities involved in re-establishing diplomatic relations, a brief discussion of
current US recognition policy is required.
The United States currently exercises a policy of non-recognition of foreign
governments. That is, the US no longer seeks to recognize individual governments,
but maintains a policy of recognizing states. (Weiner, 1991). Governments change
often, but states seldom do. The US considers official recognition of foreign
government as unnecessary to conduct foreign affairs. This policy has evolved
gradually over the past twenty years. The purpose of the shift in policy was to
continue to maintain all avenues of communication between states. Diplomatic
relations can continue without addressing the problems associated with recognition
of a new government.
This policy is a departure and contradiction of the individual recognition
granted to the Cuban Government in 1959. Under its current recognition policy, the
US no longer grants or withholds official recognition of any regime. Thus, to remain
consistent with its current recognition policy, the US is obligated to reinstate
diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba. When a change in government
occurs as it did in Cuba in 1959, current US policy designates a recalling of its
diplomatic corps, not a complete suspension of relations (Weiner, 1991). When the
US severed relations in 1961, recognition of Cubas government was not affected.
Recognition of states, not individual governments, requires the US to maintain
diplomatic relations with sovereign states without questioning the right of foreign
countries to change their governments.
Non-recognition of governments is an effective means of maintaining lines of
communication between potentially hostile countries. It is my opinion that this policy
needs to be applied to the Republic of Cuba. Re-establishing official and unofficial
diplomatic interaction is a critical step toward achieving any solutions at Guantanamo
Bay. The US is firm in asserting that any discussions of re-establishing relations
must conform to the conditions set forth by the Cuban Libertad Act of 1996 requiring
a democratically elected Cuban government.
Re-establishment of Diplomatic Relations
Constructive problem solving between nations can be conducted either
through military engagement or diplomatic dialogue. Neither the United States nor
Cuba has expressed the desire to pursue a military solution at Guantanamo Bay.
The US troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay NAS are not sufficient to defend the
base from a Cuban military attack. Wisely the Cuban government stipulates to the
political cost and military absurdity of attempting to invade Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Total Cuban military appropriations, including their limited engagement at
Guantanamo are approximately $325 million each year; which is roughly equivalent
to the same amount the US Pentagon spends each day (Carroll, 1997).
Diplomatic measures will be required to negotiate a settlement of
Guantanamo Bay. Official United States diplomatic engagement with the Republic of
Cuba is conducted through the US Interests Section within the Embassy of
Switzerland located in Havana, Cuba. Despite the termination of relations, the US
and Cuba continue to engage in extremely limited relations conducted through the
Switzerland Embassy. Each year the US government submits a payment for the
rental of Guantanamo Bay to the Cuban government through the Embassy of
The Republic of Cuba maintains an interest section at the Swiss Embassy in
Washington D.C. through which limited encounters with the US are also conducted.
Despite non-recognition, the US and Cuba do exchange periodic correspondence
regarding mutual concerns, primarily addressing immigration issues.
Several actors complicate any discussion of a re-establishment of diplomatic
relations between the US and Cuba. The Miami-based, Cuban-American community
has consistently rejected any overtures by the US that might be interpreted as
support for Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro. Local, state and national politicians
recognize and openly court the voting strength of approximately 800,000 Cuban-
Americans residing in South Florida. In a 1996 report complied by the Cuban
American National Foundation, the foundation strongly endorsed the US Congress
conditions requiring the establishment of a transitional government demonstrating a
commitment to democracy prior to entertaining dialogue promoting a re-
establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba (CANF, 1996). By continuing to
maintain Guantanamo Bay NAS, the US appeases the Cuba-American community,
and responds to the concerns of conservative Americans.
Throughout the past century in which Guantanamo Bay NAS has been
occupied, the United States has rarely suspended diplomatic relations with any state,
and usually only in response to war or military conflict. Communist China was
awarded diplomatic relations in 1979 and former Cold War adversary, Russia, has
always maintained diplomatic relations with the US. Furthermore, during the Clinton
administration, the US has re-established full diplomatic relations with the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam.
The US Department of State presently recognizes 190 independent states
and has awarded diplomatic relations to all except for Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea
and Cuba (US Dept of State, 1999b). The United States did not consult the Republic
of Cuba in 1961 prior to severing relations and has never seriously considered
overtures from the Castro regime to resume normal relations. Full diplomatic
relations between the two neighbors is critical to achieving a peaceful solution to the
issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Current US policy as outlined in the Helms-Burton Act mandates that a
Cuban transitional government demonstrating a commitment to democracy is a
precondition to re-establishment of normal diplomatic relations. The Republic of
Cuba asserts that Guantanamo Bay must be returned prior to commencing with
negotiations to re-establish relations (Bender, 1975: 110-111).
The US government has consistently demonstrated that it is unwilling to
negotiate with the Castro regime. Despite over forty years in office, Fidel Castros
revolutionary government is viewed as temporary regime by the United States.
Though 73 years of age, Fidel Castro shows no sign of relinquishing control of Cuba.
Perhaps a political stalemate serves the current needs and interests of both
countries; however, until both governments agree to return to speaking terms,
Guantanamo Bay cannot be settled through diplomatic channels.
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice was established in 1945 under the Charter
of the United Nations. The International Court of Justice is empowered to act as a
world court, serving two purposes: to settle legal disputes presented by states in
accordance with international law and to issue advisory opinions. Only states may
appear before the court. Rulings are provided to legal disputes submitted to the
court in accordance with international law submitted by both states. The mission of
the court is "to promote means and methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes
between States...(ICJ, 2000). A primary goal of the court is to provide a non-
violent, permanent institution for the settlement of disputes between states.
Article 33 of the United Nations Charter identifies three levels of consideration
available to states seeking a remedy through the International Court of Justice:
mediation, arbitration and judicial settlement (ICJ, 2000). Mediation places the
contesting governments in a position to resolve their differences under the guidance
of a third party. A mediator is assigned by the International Court of Justice to
facilitate a settlement through negotiators representing adverse governments.
Mediation does not appear to be a viable option for the US and Cuba to address
Guantanamo Bay. The two countries do not have a favorable history of working
together to solve their differences. Given the bipolar politics of the US and Cuba, it
would be difficult for both countries to agree and acknowledge the authority of a third
party mediator acting as a facilitator to resolve the issues of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Arbitration conducted through the International Court of Justice begins with
mediation and advances toward arbitration. Under this system, the Court assigns an
empowered third party to decide upon a solution or award of compensation in order
to achieve a binding settlement. Arbitration builds upon trust and understandings
reached through mediation. An arbitrated settlement of Guantanamo Bay would be
difficult to implement unless the United States and Cuba could first agree to
participate in mediation. Upon participating in mediation, both states would then
have to agree to binding arbitration and abide by any decision reached by an
Judicial settlement is the final conclusion to a disagreement that could not be
settled through mediation or arbitration. A judicial settlement concluded through the
International Court of Justice is issued through a tribunal of Court Judges
representing member states. Decisions rendered by the Court are final and not
subject to appeal. If a state fails to comply with the ruling, the other party can seek
recourse through the United Nations Security Council. All Court rulings are final and
not eligible for appeal; therefore, neither the United States nor the Republic of Cuba
is eager to pursue this avenue to resolve the status of Guantanamo Bay (ICJ, 2000).
In general, states are reluctant to submit claims for adjudication before the
Court because all parties involved in a dispute have to balance the potential gains
and losses of a Court decision. In regards to Guantanamo Bay, both countries have
a laudable case for ownership of the bay, but an adverse decision by the Court could
permanently terminate any claim to Guantanamo Bay maintained by one of the
While an adverse decision does permanently terminate all rights to a claim,
favorable rulings by the Court also pose potential problems for participating states.
In the case of Guantanamo Bay, a favorable ruling for the United States would clarify
the status of the base, but would also require the US to the recognize the authority of
the Court, and of Cuba.
In addition to mediation, arbitration, and judicial settlement, advisory opinions
are also issued to legal questions submitted to the Court. An advisory opinion is
essentially a consultation of the Court. Written and oral arguments pertaining to the
matter in dispute are entertained and an opinion is rendered. Advisory opinions are
not binding, but can be cited in future Court proceedings. Neither the United States
or Cuba have ever submitted a request to the International Court of Justice
requesting an advisory opinion of the status of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Despite
various obstacles posed by submitting a claim to the Court, options are available if
both countries mutually agree to open serious discussions of Guantanamo Bay NAS.
Ownership of Guantanamo Bay is one of several bilateral issues that
continue to divide the two countries. A primary stumbling block to resolving the
status of Guantanamo Bay is the pre-conditions for negotiations declared by both
countries. The Cuban Revolutionary Government has consistently demanded that
the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Bay NAS must be returned to the Republic
of Cuba before any agenda can be set for a normalization of relations (Bender, 1975:
111). However, the United States firmly refuses to negotiate the return of
Guantanamo Bay as condition for the re-establishment of relations with Cuba.
The Cuban Libertad Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton Actl
The Cuban Libertad Act of 1996, commonly known as the Helm-Burton Act,
mandates that a Cuban commitment to democracy is a necessary condition to
commence with dialogue addressing the status of Guantanamo Bay. President
Clinton signed the Cuban Libertad Act in response to the Cuban governments
shooting down of a US civilian aircraft operated by an anti-Castro group known as
"Brothers to the Rescue." The Cuban Libertad Act sought to increase international
sanctions levied upon Cuba and to provide a plan for a peaceful transition to
democracy. The Cuban Libertad Act outlines a framework of financial assistance to
be provided by the US to a future democratic transitional government in Cuba. The
purpose of the act is in essence to coerce the Cuban government into capitulating to
US economic reforms.
The Cuban Libertad Act clearly defines current and future US policy toward
the Republic of Cuba. The United States is committed to support a future capitalist
friendly government on the island. The Helms-Burton Act identifies the conditions for
the return of the base as: "To be prepared to enter into negotiations with a
democratically elected government in Cuba to return the United States Naval Base at
Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutually
agreeable terms (Cuban Libertad Act, 1996). The Cuban Libertad Act is the first
time the United States has ever publicly declared conditions for discussions
regarding the return of Guantanamo Bay NAS. Further reflecting US policy, a 1997
White House Report to Congress declares:
"Once Cuba has a transition governmentthat is a government
committed to the establishment of a fully democratic, pluralistic
societythe United States will be prepared to begin normalizing
relations fully with a democratic government in Cuba, the United
States is also prepared to enter into negotiations to either return the
Naval Base at Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present
agreement under mutually agreeable terms (Cuba Project, 1997).
The United States has presented the Republic of Cuba firm conditions for the
return of Guantanamo Bay. Cuba has thus far rejected all overtures of US economic
assistance or demand for democratic reforms. The bay at Guantanamo is a political
creature that requires a political solution.
At this point in time, neither the US government nor the Republic of Cuba has
agreed to take measures to resolve their differences. Simply stated, the military
facility will maintain the status quo until both countries determine a resolution to be in
its national interests. Ideally, politicians in both countries will respond to the interests
and concerns of their constituents. Only when the citizens of Cuba and of the United
States demand a resolution to the issues that divide the two states will diplomats
from both countries work toward solving the dilemma at Guantanamo Bay.
I believe that this study will add to a very limited quantity of existing scholarly
inquires, research, and dialogue pertaining to current disposition and future status of
Guantanamo Bay NAS. One of the goals and purposes of this study is to shed an
academic light on an under-researched area of US-Cuban policy. The current
pandemonium displayed by both the US and Cuban governments (and citizens)
regarding 6-year old Elian Gonzalez demonstrates that non-emotional and unbiased
research of US-Cuban relations is required to formulate policy decisions.
My research methods focused upon text-based historical records and
government documents. Unfortunately the politics of the day do not allow for an
examination of Cuban government records or an on-site visit to Guantanamo Bay.
Thus, acknowledging that my research failed to obtain documents, publications, and
interviews originating from the Cuban government is an indication of the limitations of
the study. In the broadest sense, political science is a study of governments. It is
my sincere hope that when the political conditions between the US and Cuba does
change, inspired researchers will expand upon the research conducted in this study.
Has the militarized fence line at Guantanamo Bay NAS outlived its
usefulness? In 1997, the US Marines dismantled the minefields at the naval base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Miami Herald, 1999). The US military originally planted
mines at Guantanamo Bay NAS in 1962 to protect the base from the Cuban army.
Once numbering 55,000, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines have been symbolically
removed after refusing to sign a global treaty prohibiting the use of anti-personnel
mines (Miami Herald, 1999).
The fence line at Guantanamo no longer appears to be a necessary security
measure, but perhaps the base continues to serve the US government as an
intelligence gathering facility. Guantanamo Bay NAS is one of several bilateral
issues that await resolution in the 21st Century. It is time to remove the barriers that
separate the people of the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba.
JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE U.S. CONGRESS
DECLARING WAR AGAINST SPAIN, APRIL 1898
First. That the people of the Island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and
Second. That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the government of
the United States does hereby demand, that the government of Spain at once
relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba and withdraw its land
and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters.
Third. That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, directed and
empowered to use the entire land and naval forces of the United States, and to call
into the actual service of the United States militia of several states, to such an extent
as many be necessary to carry out these resolutions into effect.
Fourth. That the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to
exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said Island except for the
pacification of thereof, and assets its determination, when that is accomplished, to
leave the government and control of the Island to its people.
THE PLATT AMENDMENT, 1901
Whereas the Congress of the United States of America, by an Act approved March
2, 1901, provided as follows:
Provided further, That in fulfillment of the declaration contained in the joint resolution
approved April twentieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, entitled For the
recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the
Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba,
and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuban and Cuban waters, and directing
the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United
States to carry these resolutions into effect, the President is hereby authorized to
leave the government and control of the island to its people so soon a government
shall have been established in said island under a constitution which, either as a part
thereof or in an ordinance appended thereto, shall define the future relations of the
United States with Cuba, substantially as follows:
I. That the government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact
with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the
independence of Cuba, not in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or
powers to obtain by colonization or for military or naval purposes or otherwise,
lodgment in or control over any portion of said island.
II. That said government shall not assume or contract any public debt, to pay the
interest upon which, and to make reasonable sinking fund provisions for the ultimate
discharge of which, the ordinary revenues of the island, after defraying the current
expenses of government shall be inadequate.
III. That the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the
right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a
government adequate for the protection of life, property, and the individual liberty,
and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the treaty of
Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the government