Throughout the years that followed, the camp became home to thousands of native Cubans, too, who had also attempted to flee to the U. The decision to house al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo was reached shortly after 9/11 — and, nearly as immediately, the world began to wonder just what their status would be.
A former Pentagon official told TIME’s Mark Thompson last month that some would like the Guantanamo Bay facility to be closed entirely, although that’s very unlikely to happen.
In 1991, in the wake of a coup d’état in Haiti, thousands of Haitians fled by sea for the United States.
In December of that year, Guantanamo Bay became the site of a refugee camp built to house those who sought asylum while the Bush administration figured out what to do with them. In the summer of 1994 alone, TIME wrote the following May, “more than 20,000 Haitians and 30,000 Cubans were intercepted at sea and delivered to hastily erected camps in Guantanamo.” In 1999, during conflict in the Balkans (and after the Haitian and Cuban refugees had been sent home or on to the States), the U. agreed to put up 20,000 new refugees at Guantanamo, but that plan ended up scrapped for being too far from their European homelands.
Until 1898, Cuba had belonged to Spain; as the Spanish empire diminished, Cubans fought for their independence. Here’s how TIME later summarized (with numbers accurate for 1960) what happened next: The U. enclave in Oriente province near the island’s southeast end. But its greatest worth is as an isolated, warm-water training base for the fleet.
MORE When Fidel Castro Canceled Santa Claus Guantanamo returned to the news in the 1990s when it got a new set of residents.
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More than 100 prisoners remain there, even though that number is declining and officials have said that Obama would still like to achieve the closure before he leaves office. MORE New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Planning Trade Mission to Cuba The story of Guantanamo goes back more than a century, to the time of the Spanish-American War. Navy gets its best natural harbor south of Charleston, S. In terms of global strategy, Guantanamo has only marginal value.