The base in Guantanamo Bay has been a reminder of American imperialism in the Caribbean ever since. Cuba wants the land returned.
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When I tell people I study Guantanamo, they immediately imagine the military base. Evidence suggests that some U. The sons of three American servicemen even ran off to join the uprising in The Cuban base workers generally escaped punishment, but at least one U.
Approximately 6, people live on the Guantanamo Bay naval base today, including American military personnel, their families and civilian staff. The base offered steady jobs at wages far higher than those on local sugar plantations. President Lyndon Johnson ordered most Cuban workers fired to make the base more self-sufficient. Jamaican and later Filipino guest laborers were brought in to take their place. Today, these guest workers live in trailers and old barracks on the base and do everything from construction and food services to laundry. Many are paid less than the U. He observed that the working conditions of Cubans employed at Guantanamo Bay complied with neither Cuban nor American labor laws.
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In , U. More recently, in the s, the Coast Guard intercepted thousands of Haitians fleeing post-coup political unrest in boats and brought them to Guantanamo Bay. Most were denied asylum and sent home. Though they had been granted asylum, immigration officials would not admit them into the United States because of their health status. The Haitians were admitted to the United States, but the unused facilities remained. Dozens of people are still detained at Guantanamo Bay.
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This set the stage for the Bush administration to transform Guantanamo Bay into a prison for alleged enemy combatants after the Sept. Conditions there have included imprisonment in cages, sensory deprivation and forced feedings — treatment that many believe amounts to torture. Nearly prisoners were released to their home countries or resettled elsewhere.
Separated from the rest of the communist island by miles of razor-wire fence, Cuban minefields and guards in towers armed with machine guns, Gitmo is a throwback to the Cold War -- although tensions have eased over the years. A treaty reinforced the lease agreement and allowed the United States to stay as long as it wished.
Such tensions led U.
In , Castro shut off water to Guantanamo. The United States had to ship drinking water in until it could build a desalinization plant. In , a coup in nearby Haiti sent refugees flooding toward the United States. About 10, refugees picked up before reaching U. After huge boatlifts from Haiti and Cuba in , more than 60, refugees were detained at Guantanamo behind wire fences, where frustrations often ran high. Guantanamo was considered as a destination for about 20, Kosovo refugees in , but the plans were never carried out.
The Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners may be the most dangerous detainee mission yet for the U. The first arrivals will be locked up in small cubicles surrounded by chain-link fence. Security officials described the cubicles as "outdoor cells"; they look more like cages.
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We will treat them humanely in accordance with international law," said Marine Brig. Mike Lehnert who is in charge of the mission.