posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 11:35 AM
HISTORY. In the Spanish American War of 1898-1899, at Cuba’s San Juan Hill, “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt became an America icon. In 1900,
President McKinley was seeking a second term. The popular “TR” was offered the vice presidential nomination. Winning handily, both men were
sworn into office on March 4, 1901. Barely six months later, on September 6, 1901, President McKinley was assassinated. TR became the youngest man to
hold the office of president.
By 1903, the American occupation of Cuba was winding down. On February 23, 1903, the U.S. government signed a Treaty with Cuba granting it a perpetual
lease to Guantanamo Bay. Tomas Estrada Palma, an American citizen, the first President of Cuba, signed the treaty on behalf of Cuba. The supporting
rationale was the United States would need that base as part of its Caribbean defense plans for the Panama Canal. Thanks to US chicanery with
Columbia, construction began in 1904 and the first ship traversed the canal in 1914.
In 1934, a second treaty reaffirming the lease but also abrogating the earlier treaty’s restrictions on Cuba’s foreign affairs was entered into.
The later treaty also modified lease payments from the original $2,000 in U.S. gold coins per year, to the 1934 equivalent of $4,085 in U.S. Treasury
notes. Of greater consequence, the 1934 treaty added a requirement that termination of the lease requires the consent of both governments, or the
abandonment of the property by the United States. ISSUE: Did the 1934 document REPLACE the 1903 document, or merely MODIFY it?
U.S. control of this Cuban territory has never been popular with the Cuban government or the Cuban people. The current Cuban government has strongly
denounced the treaty on legal grounds that article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which was signed by both governments.
declares a treaty void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force. Cuba argues the inclusion in 1903, of the Platt Amendment in
the Cuban Constitution was procured by threat of force.
The United States warned the 1903 Cuban Constitutional Convention not to modify the Platt Amendment, and was told U.S. troops would not leave Cuba
until its terms had been adopted as a condition for the U.S. to grant independence. Cuba says that makes the 1903 and 1934 treaties stand in
contravention to the Vienna Conventions. The U.S. believes it is in compliance with the1969 Vienna Convention.
Fidel Castro has cashed only one rent check, refusing to cash any others, because he views the lease as illegitimate. The United States holds that by
cashing the first check received in accordance with said treaty, Castro's government effectively ratified the lease, and cannot unilaterally change
its mind after the fact on account of political tensions or ideological differences. The US argues that all Cuban claims regarding an original
violation of sovereignty by the Platt Amendment, became moot once the new and independent revolutionary government freely reaffirmed the base's
The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, covers 45 sq miles and is sometimes abbreviated as "Gitmo." The first Cuban American Treaty held, among
other things, that the United States has "complete jurisdiction and control" of the Guantanamo Bay, while the Republic of Cuba was recognized to
retain ultimate sovereignty.
Although diplomatic relations do not exist between the two countries, the United States has agreed to return fugitives from Cuban law to Cuban
authorities, and Cuba agreed to return fugitives from U.S. law, for offenses committed in Guantanamo Bay, to U.S. authorities.
Prior to the decision by President George Bush to lead the United States into the War on Terror, the base was used to house Cuban and Haitian
refugees. Most controversially, the base was used during the early 1990s to hold HIV-positive refugees fleeing Haiti after the overthrow of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a military coup d'etat. These refugees were held in a detainment area called Camp Bulkily until US District Court Judge
Sterling Johnson Jr. declared the camp unconstitutional on June 8, 1993. The last Haitian migrants departed from Guantanamo on November 1,1995.
On June 16, 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a unit of defense contractor Halliburton will build a new $30 million detention facility
and security perimeter around the base.
HUMANITARIAN ASIDE: The U.S. scattered 75,000 land mines across a so-called "No man's land," i.e. the land strip between the US and Cuban border.
It was the largest mine field in the western hemisphere and 2nd largest in the world. On May 16, 1996 Bill Clinton issued a Presidential Order
requiring the removal of the mines. They have since been replaced with motion and sound sensors to detect intruders.