Guantánamo , city,
capital of Guantánamo prov., SE
Cuba, on the Guaso River. It is the processing center for
a rich sugar- and coffee-producing region and has road and
rail connections with Santiago de Cuba. Founded in the early
19th cent. by Frenchmen fleeing the slave rebellion in Haiti,
Guantánamo retains many vestiges of French architecture.
The city is c.20 mi (30 km) inland from its port, Caimanera,
on landlocked Guantánamo Bay,. where the United States
maintains an important naval station. Often called the Pearl
Harbor of the Atlantic, the base has naval installations covering
c.45 sq mi (116 sq km).
Its site was leased to the United States in 1903 by a treaty
that was renewed in 1934; consent of both governments is needed
to revoke the agreement. Since 1960 the Cuban government has
refused to accept the token annual rent ($5,000) from the
United States and has pressured for the surrender of the base.
In the mid-1990s thousands of refugees fleeing Cuba and Haiti
were temporarily housed at the base.
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