Talk US-Cuba relations and Guantanamo Bay doesn’t immediately come to mind. But it should. The Americans have been using this leased bit of real estate since 1903 and after the 1959 Communist revolution, Havana hasn’t even cashed the annual cheques.
Okay, so each cheque is worth a measley $4,085 a year (or thereabouts), as Matt Novak writes in his fascinating factoid (click here to read it) but it all adds up. The reason we can’t be sure about the exact rent is that it was set at 2,000 gold coins a year and the price of gold obviously varies.
“Gitmo”, as the base is known among American servicemen, was established under a treaty signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The lease on the bay, one of Cuba’s best natural harbours, was renewed in 1934.
Despite Cuban objections after the glorious revolution, the Americans held on to it, putting it to use in many situations, not least to house Cuban and Haitian refugees in the 1990s.
But it’s safe to say Guantanamo has never been so famous (or infamous) as in the years since 9/11.