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Established as America's first foreign naval base following the Spanish-American War, Guantánamo is now more often thought of as our Devil's Island, the gulag of our times. This book takes readers beyond the orange-jumpsuited detainees of today's headlines to provide the first comprehensive history of Guantánamo from its origins to the present.
Occupying 45 square miles of land and sea, Guantánamo has for more than a century symbolized the imperial impulse within U.S. foreign policy, and its occupation is decried by Cuba as a violation of inter-national law—even though a treaty legally grants the U.S. a lease in perpetuity. Stephen Schwab now describes the base's role in American, Caribbean, and global history, explaining how it came to be, why it's still there, and how it continues to serve a variety of purposes.
Schwab views the base's creation as part of a broad U.S. strategy of annexations, protectorates, and limited interventions devised to create a strong sphere of influence in the western Atlantic. He charts its history from this early belief that it would prevent European powers from staking imperial claims in the Caribbean and examines the crucial defensive role that Guantánamo played as a convoy hub for strategic goods during World War II. He then looks at clashes over Guantánamo during the Cold War, culminating in LBJ's decision to make the base independent by firing Cuban workers and building a desalinization plant. Schwab also fleshes out Guantánamo's ongoing roles as the U.S. Navy's lone forward base in the Caribbean, providing refueling for U.S. and allied ships, as a Coast Guard station engaged in search-and-rescuemissions and counternarcotics operations, and as a U.S. facility for processing undocumented aliens.
Even though the Castro government persistently protests America's presence—and refuses even to bank the rent that the U.S. dutifully pays—Guantánamo remains the only place where diplomatic exchanges between the two countries occur, and Schwab documents how the facility has served mutual interests as both a point of nationalistic frictions and a center for diplomatic compromise. By presenting Guantánamo's story within its broader historical framework, his book gives readers a greater appreciation of America's true stake in this controversial Caribbean outpost.
Introduction The Significance of Guantanamo 1
1 The Rise of the U.S. Navy and Theodore Roosevelt 15
2 The Battle for Guantanamo in 1898 39
3 Cubans Resist U.S. Base Acquisition 61
4 The First Overseas U.S. Base 95
5 Peace and War: Franklin D. Roosevelt 130
6 The Cold War, Part 1: Dwight D. Eisenhower 175
7 The Cold War, Part 2: John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson 196
8 Guantanamo Endures 223
App. A Imperial Germany and the Caribbean, 1890s-1917 239
App. B Transcriptions of Letters from Elihu Root, 1901 242
App. C Theodore Roosevelt's Message to Congress for Representation in Cuba, 1902 252
App. D Leasing Agreement between the United States and Cuba, 1903 255
App. E Treaty Agreement between the United States and Cuba, 1934 260
App. F Statement by the Government of Cuba, 2002 263
An illustration section follows page 162