History of Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. Involvement with Guantanamo Bay
The Legality of the U.S. Occupation of Guantanamo Bay
Why Do the U.S. Hold Guantanamo Bay?
The Legal Position Regarding the U.S. Being in Guantanamo Bay
Recent Events at Guantanamo Bay: Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta
The Legal Position Regarding Events at U.S. Camps in Guantanamo Bay
The Geneva Convention and Guantanamo Bay
In the last two years the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has regularly been seen in the news due to the imprisonment of hundreds of Muslims held there by the United States without trial (CSC, 2003).
It is well documented that the prisoners are held in terrible conditions and they have included minors (CSC, 2003). Cuba has surprisingly come under fire from some quarters for allowing this behaviour on their land, but it is important to explain that Cuba has no power over this area of their own soil, as for the last 100 years it has been occupied by the United States and is separated from the rest of Cuba by one of the world's most intense minefields (CSC, 2003).
This paper looks at the history of Guantanamo Bay, in terms of how the United States came to have possession of Gunatanamo Bay, and how the United States manages to continue to occupy a portion of another country; a country with which it does not hold diplomatic nor economic relations. The legality of this occupation is looked at in some detail.
The paper then moves on to looking at what the United States has done with this land it occupies, and looks in depth at the U.S. military's development of detention camps on this area of Cuba, in particular, at the development of Camp X-Ray and later, Camp Delta. The things that go on in these camps is discussed in some detail, and the legality of the United States' holding prisoners (who are often children) without charge is looked at in detail, with particular reference to the Geneva Convention.
Chapter 2: History of Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. Involvement with Guantanamo Bay
This Chapter will look at the history of Guantanamo Bay, in particular the involvement of the United States with Guantanamo Bay; the reason for their occupation of Guantanamo Bay, and the reasons for their continued presence in this region of this country, with which the United States does not hold diplomatic nor economic relations.
The area known as Guantanamo Bay covers nearly 118 square kilometres of eastern Cuba, it contains 2 airfields and is home to around 3,000 permanently stationed U.S. military personnel, whilst a further floating population of thousands arrives and departs by air and sea each month (CSC, 2003).
The annual rent for the leasing of this land is 2,000 gold coins, equal to $4,085, so around one cent per square metre of land, however, since 1959 and the triumph of the Revolution, no cheque has ever been cashed (CSC, 2003). Since March of that year Cuba has demanded that the U.S. return the base and has regularly had resolutions passed at the Non-Aligned Movement calling for the base to be returned (CSC, 2003).
The history of Guantanamo Bay is a perfect example of U.S. policy towards Cuba since the end of the 19th century; in 1898, just as the Cuban patriots' independence army was about to achieve victory after 30 years of armed struggle against the Spanish Crown, the United States declared war on Spain after their warship, The Maine, was allegedly torpedoed by the Spanish (CSC, 2003). Later that year, rule of Cuba was transferred from Madrid to Washington at the Treaty of Paris, where no Cubans were present, after U.S. President McKinley had stated "it wouldn't be wise to recognise the independence of the Cuban Republic" (CSC, 2003).
However, the Cuban struggle for independence looked likely to begin again, this time against U.S. rule and in 1901 the U.S. introduced the Platt Amendment (CSC, 2003). This allowed the President to hand over rule of the island to the Cuban people, but only after a government and constitution could be established that set out future relations between the two countries (CSC, 2003). A major part of the constitution forced the future Cuban government to lease part of its territory for the establishment of U.S. naval stations, and the result was the 1903 Permanent Treaty, which decided that a piece of Cuban land was to be leased to the U.S.A., and 100 years ago the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base ceased to be a part of Cuban territory (CSC, 2003).
The text of the Platt Amendment states that, "The President of the U.S. is hereby authorized to 'leave the government and control of the island of Cuba to its people' so soon as 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, nor in any manner authorize or permit any foreigh 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 provision 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 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 of Cuba.
IV. That all acts of the United States in Cuba during its military occupancy thereof are ratified and validated, and all lawful rights acquired thereunder shall be maintained and protected.
V. That the government of Cuba will execute, and, as far as necessary, extend, the plans already devised or other plans to be mutually agreed upon, for the sanitation of the cities of the island, to the end that a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases may be prevented, thereby assuring protection to the people and commerce of Cuba, as well as to the commerce of the southern ports of the United States and the people residing therein.
VI. That the Isle of Pines shall be omitted from the proposed constitutional boundaries of Cuba, the title thereto being left to future adjustment by treaty. VII. That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.
VII. That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.
VIII. That by way of further assurance the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States."
In 1901, after three years of U.S. occupation of Cuba, Congress passed the Platt Amendment which stated in Article III: "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 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 of Cuba" (Mellen, 2004).
In order to end the occupation of Cuba, the Cuban government had to insert the Platt Amendment into its constitution (Mellen, 2004). They however did not want to as they felt, similar to how Adams felt in 1796, that it allowed the U.S. government to govern them, rather than allowing the Cuban people to govern themselves (Mellen, 2004).
Very clearly the U.S. government played a two-faced game with Cuba (Mellen, 2004). The Senate which passed the resolution which recognized Cuba's government and that Cuba "[was], and of a right ought to be, free," and the Senate which passed the Platt Amendment had not changed composition greatly in the three-year interim (Mellen, 2004).