57

During the last decade and a half, the US has housed prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and has been leasing it from the Cuban government for 55 years. Cuba has never cashed the checks

Castro was very anti-imperialism and US. So why has the Cuban government not asked them to leave? It's like China building a prison in the US where the house their most dangerous criminals! What does Cuba gain from leasing it to the US? They obviously aren't interested in monetary gain as they never cashed the checks.

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    Definitely not "the most dangerous criminals". They are held in Guantanamo only because under US law would never allow them to be imprisoned without attorney in the first place. China, on the other hand, has no such problems... – Agent_L Nov 29 '16 at 12:12
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    @Agent_L and if they did they would lease out in North Korea... – Mindwin Nov 29 '16 at 12:54
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    The fact that almost all of the people, once housed there, were released without charges makes the claim of "worst of the worst' a dubious one, at best. An FBI expert, early on in the use of Guantanamo determined that about 90% of them were not there for any kind of terror-related activities. – PoloHoleSet Nov 29 '16 at 21:12
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    The real question is why is it called a "lease" when it is actually plain old occupation of territory. – DepressedDaniel Nov 30 '16 at 2:25
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    @DepressedDaniel it's called a lease because it's a lease. There's a piece of paper specifying the lease terms. – phoog Dec 1 '16 at 2:38
75

So why has the Cuban government not asked them to leave?

The simple answer to that is that they have.

From Wikipedia:

The United States assumed territorial control over the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay under the 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations. The United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over this territory, while recognizing that Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty. The current government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as illegal and insists the Cuban–American Treaty was obtained by threat of force and is in violation of international law. Some legal scholars judge that the lease may be voidable.

And later

After the Cuban Revolution, Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted the status of the base remain unchanged, despite Fidel Castro's objections. Since then, the Cuban government has cashed only one of the rent checks from the U.S. government, and even then only because of "confusion" in the early days of the leftist revolution, according to Castro. The remaining un-cashed checks made out to "Treasurer General of the Republic" (a title that ceased to exist after the revolution) are kept in Castro's office stuffed into a desk drawer.

They've asked (e.g. in 2016). The United States (US) has not left. The basis of not leaving (again from Wikipedia):

In 1934 a new Cuban-American Treaty of Relations reaffirming the lease granted Cuba and its trading partners free access through the bay, modified the lease payment from $2,000 in U.S. gold coins per year to the 1934 equivalent value of $4,085 in U.S. dollars, and made the lease permanent unless both governments agreed to break it or until the U.S. abandoned the base property.

The US has never agreed to ending the treaty, and it requires both parties to agree to end it.

Reading the sources implies that ending the treaty is something that Fidel Castro requested repeatedly, but I can't find a primary source actually stating that.

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    The treaty was signed before the Castro coup. The government that agreed to the treaty no longer exists so doesn't that make it void? It's like the US following British treaties/tariffs after they had their revolution. – Noah Nov 29 '16 at 17:07
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    @Killer066 international agreements are typically made between countries, not governments, and generally survive regime change. The new regime can cease to abide by the treaty, and other parties to the treaty can take action in response or not as they see fit. The real reason the US is still in Guantanamo Bay is that they never chose to leave, and Cuba hasn't tried to force them to. Cuba knows that it would require military action, and that Cuba would not likely succeed. – phoog Nov 29 '16 at 19:20
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    @Killer066 In international politics, if you have a disagreement and one of the parties doesn't want to negotiate and neither party wants to go to war, you can't resolve the disagreement. – Peter Nov 29 '16 at 19:20
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    Cuba has no way to compel the US to leave and the US is not willing to leave. It really is that simple. – David Schwartz Nov 29 '16 at 23:23
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    @Killer066: For comparison, the Qing Dynasty that leased Hong Kong to the United Kingdom ceased to exist in 1912, but the treaty remained in effect until 1997. – dan04 Nov 30 '16 at 6:22
14

Why is Cuba still leasing Guantanamo Bay to the US?

Let's go back to:


1898: Spanish - American War

  • Cuba belonged to Spain and fought for their independence as the Spanish empire diminished.

  • US assisted Cuba by joining the Spanish - American War.

  • Spain lost and gave the US control over some territories, including Cuba.

1899 - 1903: After Spanish - American War: Platt Amendment

  • Hostilities halted in August, formal peace treaty, the Treaty of Paris, was signed in December and rectified by Congress in February 1899.

  • Cuba became a US protectorate and has a strong US presence.

  • Cuba signed the Platt Amendment. Excerpt of which relating to Guantánamo Bay:

    • VII. 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 lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.

  • Came into effect after Treaty of Relations was signed between the US and Cuba in May 1903.

1934: Treaty of Relations of 1934

  • Superseded the 1903 Treaty (mentioned above)

  • Abrogated the 1903 Treaty, except that Cuba agreed to continue to recognise all US military actions as lawful affirmed the US lease of land for a naval base unless abrogated by mutual consent.

  • With regards to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba made the lease permanent.


Essentially, treaty-wise, Guantánamo Bay remains legally leased to the US as Cuba recognised it until:

2015: High-levels talks between the US and Cuba

  • Raul Castro was quoted as saying that it was "illegally occupied":

    • "The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don't give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base."

2016: Obama visit to Cuba

  • Raul Castro was quoted as saying during the press conferences:

    • “In order to move forward towards normalization, it will also be necessary to return the territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo Naval Base,” Mr. Castro said, calling it one of the “main obstacles” to normalizing relations.


Recently, Cuba does indeed wants the US to return the land and called it "illegally occupied".

For a even more detailed timeline, check out this article by The Atlantic.

2

The simplest answer for why the US holds Guantanamo Bay is because they can. Cuba military is not even close to be capable of fending off a US invasion. Now, of course, the situation is more complicated than that; if the only issue were military might, the US would have taken over the whole country, not just the Bay. The reason they haven't done so is because the US government feels bound by certain ethics. There's both a moral element, and a practical element that a sizable portion of the US population would object to an unprovoked invasion, and an even larger portion of the international community would. The treaty gives the US moral standing to occupy the Bay. Cuba says it's invalid, but that holds little water in the international community and even less among the US population.

0

There is no language in the treaty giving aircraft access to Guantanamo. The Cubans could legally install barriers that would inhibit the USA from landing aircraft

  • Welcome to Politics! We require that answers provide a (complete) answer to the posted question; your post looks more like a reply to another answer (though I'm not sure which one). – Glorfindel Apr 29 at 17:54
-7

Why is Cuba still leasing Guantanamo Bay to the US?

First of all Cuba is not leasing anything to the US. The US is under that impression as they feel they are the "Saviors" of the world. But the reality is the world does not revolve around the US. Once you have that idea out of your head: that there is no "leasing" or "treaties" going on (for a lease to take effect, both parties have to be in agreement with the lease, in this case Cuba's current government (1959 to current) is not in "agreement" with this so called "US" Lease or "U.S. 1934 Treaty"). So then you might ask yourself, why is the US still there? Simple answer: Because they want to. Same question can be asked about any other powerful nation such as China(Spratly Islands) and Russia (Crimea).

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    You seem to be conflating "lease" with some willing frame-of-mind. – Nick T Nov 30 '16 at 16:12
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    This is not an answer, but a rant and a declaration of a personal opinion. Even if you were right, it still would not make it an answer to the question. – vsz Nov 30 '16 at 19:22
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    It is an answer - it says that Cuba isn't in fact leasing it to the US but can't end their presence in Guantanamo because the US is rather powerful. It's more or less what every other current answer says. – innisfree Nov 30 '16 at 22:50
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    This "answer" tries to put the lease in terms of contract law. This cannot succeed: there's no international contract law, let alone one that the USA and Cuba agree upon. International law is treaty law, and the correct answers therefore refer to "Treaty of Relations of 1934". – MSalters Dec 1 '16 at 12:45
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    @arod2028 treaties are made with countries, not governments. It's why all of the treaties that the US signed with the USSR are still in force with Russia. – RonJohn Sep 21 '17 at 0:21

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