visit guantanamo cuba

Guantánamo Travel Guide: All You Need To Know

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Guantánamo is a province located in the eastern part of Cuba, known for its natural beauty, historic sites, and vibrant culture. While the name “Guantánamo” is often associated with the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, it’s important to note that the province of Guantánamo is separate from the base. Here is an overview of Guantánamo:

Places of Interest in Guantánamo:

Baracoa: The city of Baracoa is the provincial capital of Guantánamo and is known for its stunning natural scenery, including lush mountains and pristine beaches. It’s also famous for its local cuisine, particularly the “cucurucho” (a coconut and honey sweet treat) and seafood dishes.

El Yunque: El Yunque is a distinctive flat-topped mountain that can be hiked by adventurous visitors. The trail offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

Playa Maguana: Located near Baracoa, Playa Maguana is a picturesque beach with white sand and clear waters. It’s an excellent spot for relaxation and swimming.

Cacao Farms: The region around Baracoa is known for its cacao farms. Visitors can take tours to learn about the cacao-growing process and even sample local chocolate.

Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve: This UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve is home to diverse flora and fauna, making it an excellent destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

La Farola: This winding mountain road offers stunning views of the Cuban countryside as it connects Baracoa to the city of Guantánamo.

Zoológico de Piedra: Located near Baracoa, this unique sculpture park features stone animals carved by a local artist, Angel Iñigo Blanco.

Best Time To Visit Guantánamo The best time to visit Guantánamo, Cuba, depends on your preferences for weather, outdoor activities, and avoiding potential weather-related disruptions. Guantánamo has a tropical climate, so it experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons and the best time to visit:

Dry Season (November to April): The dry season is considered the best time to visit Guantánamo. During these months, the weather is generally dry, sunny, and pleasant, with lower humidity and less rainfall. This period is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, beach trips, and exploring the region’s natural beauty.

Rainy Season (May to October): Guantánamo’s rainy season coincides with the Caribbean hurricane season, which officially runs from June to November. While hurricanes are relatively rare in this region, there is an increased risk of tropical storms and heavy rainfall during these months. Traveling during the rainy season can lead to wetter conditions and occasional disruptions to outdoor plans.

Hurricane Season (June to November): As mentioned, the official hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November. While hurricanes rarely make landfall in Guantánamo, it’s essential to monitor the weather forecast and be prepared for potential disruptions, especially in the later months of the season.

In summary, the best time to visit Guantánamo for pleasant weather and outdoor activities is during the dry season from November to April. This period offers the most favorable conditions for exploring the region’s natural attractions, hiking in the mountains, and enjoying the coastal areas. While the rainy season and hurricane season can be less ideal due to increased rainfall and potential weather disturbances, visiting during these periods is still possible, but travelers should be prepared for wetter conditions.

Always check the weather forecast and travel advisories before planning your trip to Guantánamo, and consider travel insurance that covers potential weather-related disruptions, especially if visiting during the rainy or hurricane season. Enjoy your exploration of this beautiful and less-visited part of Cuba!

Things to Do in Guantánamo Guantánamo, located in the eastern part of Cuba, offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for travelers interested in exploring its natural beauty, history, and culture. Here are some things to do in Guantánamo:

Explore Baracoa: As the provincial capital and one of the oldest cities in Cuba, Baracoa is a must-visit destination in Guantánamo. Explore its charming streets, colonial architecture, and lively waterfront. Don’t miss the historic Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

Hike El Yunque: El Yunque is a distinctive, flat-topped mountain located near Baracoa. You can embark on a guided hike to its summit, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Visit Playa Maguana: This beautiful beach near Baracoa boasts soft white sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s an excellent spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

Taste Local Cuisine: Guantánamo, and Baracoa in particular, is known for its unique cuisine. Try local dishes like cucurucho (a sweet coconut and honey treat), fresh seafood, and traditional Cuban specialties.

Visit Cacao Farms: The region around Baracoa is famous for cacao production. Take a tour of a cacao farm to learn about the cacao-growing process and sample delicious Cuban chocolate.

Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve: This UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve is a haven for nature lovers. Explore the lush rainforests, rivers, and diverse flora and fauna of the area.

La Farola Scenic Drive: Drive along La Farola, a winding mountain road that connects Baracoa to the city of Guantánamo. The road offers breathtaking views of the Cuban countryside.

Zoológico de Piedra: Near Baracoa, you’ll find this unique sculpture park created by local artist Ángel Iñigo Blanco. It features stone animals and sculptures carved from local rocks.

Climb La Cruz: Hike to the top of La Cruz, a hill overlooking Baracoa, and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the bay. The hike is relatively short but rewarding.

Explore Historic Sites: Guantánamo has its share of historical sites, including fortifications and old sugar mills. Visit places like Castillo de Seboruco and La Demajagua to learn about the region’s history.

Attend Cultural Events: Check for local festivals, music performances, and cultural events happening during your visit. These events offer a glimpse into the vibrant culture of Guantánamo.

Birdwatching: The Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve is a prime spot for birdwatching, with numerous bird species to observe. Birdwatchers can spot both resident and migratory birds.

Relax and Enjoy Nature: Guantánamo’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches and mountains. Spend time relaxing in the tranquil surroundings, go birdwatching, or take leisurely walks in the countryside.

When visiting Guantánamo, be prepared for a more laid-back atmosphere and fewer tourist crowds compared to some other Cuban destinations. The province’s natural beauty and unique cultural heritage make it an excellent choice for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience in Cuba.

How to get around in Guantánamo Getting around in Guantánamo, Cuba, can be an adventure in itself, and the province offers various transportation options to explore its diverse landscapes and attractions. Here’s how to get around in Guantánamo:

Walking: In smaller towns and cities like Baracoa, walking is a convenient way to explore the city center and nearby attractions. Many of the main sights, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance.

Bicycles: Renting a bicycle is a popular way to get around in Guantánamo, especially in areas with scenic routes and beautiful landscapes. Some guesthouses (casas particulares) offer bicycle rentals, and you can explore at your own pace.

Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Guantánamo, particularly in larger towns and cities. You can find official taxis with meters, but private taxis are also common. It’s a good idea to negotiate the fare with private taxi drivers before starting your journey.

Coco Taxis: Coco Taxis are a fun and iconic mode of transportation in Cuba. These yellow three-wheeled scooters with a covered passenger cabin are a unique way to explore the city. Negotiate the fare with the driver.

Bicitaxis: Bicitaxis are bicycle rickshaws operated by local drivers. They are a common form of transportation for short trips within towns and cities. Be sure to agree on the fare in advance.

Camellos: Camellos are long, articulated buses that serve as a common form of public transportation in some areas. They follow specific routes within the city and can be an affordable way to get around.

Local Buses: Guantánamo has a local bus system, but it may not be as reliable or comfortable as other transportation options. Buses are generally used more by locals than tourists.

Rental Cars: If you have an international driver’s license and are comfortable driving in Cuba, you can rent a car. Rental agencies may be limited in some areas of Guantánamo, so it’s advisable to book in advance. Keep in mind that road signage and conditions may differ from what you’re used to.

Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking is a common practice in Cuba, and you may see locals doing it. While it’s generally safe, exercise caution and use your judgment when considering this option.

Horse-Drawn Carriages: In some rural areas and smaller towns, horse-drawn carriages may be a charming mode of transportation for short distances.

When using transportation in Guantánamo, it’s essential to have some local currency (Cuban pesos, or CUP) on hand, as it’s the primary currency for transportation fares and small purchases. Additionally, be prepared for a slower pace of life and occasional delays, which is characteristic of Cuban transportation. Enjoy the unique and authentic travel experiences Guantánamo has to offer!

Where to eat in Guantánamo

Guantánamo may not have as many dining options as larger Cuban cities, but you can still find delicious Cuban and local dishes in the province. Here are some places to eat in Guantánamo, particularly in the city of Baracoa:

Café El Parque: Located in the heart of Baracoa near Parque Independencia, Café El Parque offers Cuban and international cuisine. It’s a great spot for a leisurely meal and people-watching.

La Habanera: This restaurant is known for its seafood dishes and oceanfront location, making it a popular choice for seafood lovers. Try the fresh catch of the day or traditional Cuban dishes with a coastal twist.

Casa del Cacao: As the name suggests, Casa del Cacao is a delightful place to sample chocolate and cacao-based treats. Don’t miss the chance to try the local chocolate and cacao products.

Paladar La Colonial: This paladar (privately-owned restaurant) offers a variety of Cuban and international dishes in a charming, colonial-style setting. It’s a great place to enjoy local flavors and atmosphere.

La Punta: Located at the Hotel Castillo El Morro, La Punta restaurant offers both Cuban and international cuisine. Enjoy a meal with a view of Santiago Bay and El Morro Castle.

Restaurante La Barca: This seafood restaurant in Baracoa offers a range of dishes featuring fresh seafood. The setting by the bay is particularly pleasant for dining.

Paladar Las Terrazas: Situated near El Yunque, Las Terrazas offers Cuban and Creole cuisine in a tranquil garden setting. It’s an excellent choice for a meal after a hike or outdoor excursion.

Casa de la Trova: For a lively dining experience, visit Casa de la Trova, where you can enjoy traditional Cuban music and dancing along with your meal. It’s a great place to soak up the local culture.

Street Food: Be sure to explore the local street food scene in Baracoa. Look for food stalls or mobile vendors offering Cuban snacks like empanadas, churros, and Cuban sandwiches.

Local Markets: While not traditional restaurants, local markets may have food stalls or small eateries where you can try Cuban dishes and snacks. Explore the markets for an authentic culinary experience.

Keep in mind that service in Cuba can be slower than what you might be accustomed to, so plan for a leisurely dining experience. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have cash on hand, as many places may not accept credit cards. Enjoy your culinary journey in Guantánamo and savor the local flavors.

Famous street stalls in Guantánamo Guantánamo, particularly in the city of Baracoa, offers a unique culinary experience with street stalls and vendors serving delicious Cuban snacks and local specialties. While they may not be internationally famous like some street food stalls in larger cities, these local street food vendors are worth trying for an authentic taste of Guantánamo:

Coco Frio (Cold Coconut): Look for vendors selling fresh coconuts on the streets of Guantánamo and Baracoa. They will often cut open a coconut for you to enjoy its refreshing water and scoop out the coconut meat.

Cuban Sandwich Stalls: You can find street vendors in Baracoa and other towns selling Cuban sandwiches, which typically consist of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard pressed between Cuban bread. These sandwiches are flavorful and satisfying.

Churros Stands: Churros are deep-fried dough pastries, and you can find vendors selling them in various locations, especially in the town centers. They are often sprinkled with sugar and can be a sweet treat.

Tamales: Some street vendors offer tamales, which are made of corn dough filled with ingredients like pork, chicken, or vegetables. They are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

Fresh Fruit Stalls: Look for fruit stalls in markets and on the streets where you can purchase fresh tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and papayas. These make for a healthy and refreshing snack.

Raspados (Shaved Ice): On hot days, you might find vendors selling raspados, which are shaved ice treats flavored with various syrups. They offer a cooling respite from the heat.

Cucurucho Stands: Cucurucho is a local sweet treat made with coconut and honey. You can find it being sold by street vendors in Baracoa. It’s a unique and delicious snack to try.

Street Roasted Corn (Elote): Roasted corn on the cob, known as “elote,” is a popular street food in Cuba. Vendors may offer it with various toppings, such as butter, salt, and hot sauce.

While these street stalls may not have widespread fame, they provide a glimpse into the local flavors and culinary traditions of Guantánamo. Exploring street food in Cuba can be a delightful way to immerse yourself in the local culture and savor authentic Cuban snacks and dishes.

Where to stay in Guantánamo Guantánamo offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses (casas particulares), and hostels. While it may not have as many choices as some of the larger Cuban cities, you can still find comfortable places to stay. Here are some recommendations on where to stay in Guantánamo, particularly in the city of Baracoa:

Hotel El Castillo: This hotel is perched on a hill and offers spectacular views of the city of Baracoa and the bay. It’s a comfortable and charming place to stay with a historic ambiance.

Hotel Porto Santo: Located near Baracoa’s city center, Hotel Porto Santo is a budget-friendly option with basic amenities. It’s conveniently situated for exploring the town’s attractions.

Casa Particular: Staying in a casa particular (private home) is a popular and authentic way to experience Cuban hospitality. Many locals in Guantánamo, especially in Baracoa, offer rooms for rent in their homes. This allows you to immerse yourself in local culture. Look for “casa particular” signs or ask locals for recommendations.

Online Booking Platforms: Consider using online booking platforms like Airbnb,, or TripAdvisor to find a variety of accommodations, read reviews, and make reservations in advance. This allows you to explore various options and choose one that suits your needs.

Hostels: While not as common as in some other Cuban cities, Baracoa does have a few hostels where you can find budget-friendly accommodations and meet fellow travelers. Check websites and booking platforms for hostel options.

Other Hotels: Guantánamo has various hotels, including budget to mid-range options. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can explore choices such as Hotel Guantanamo or Hotel Caimanera.

When choosing where to stay in Guantánamo, consider factors such as location, budget, and the type of experience you want. Staying in the city center of Baracoa allows easy access to historical sites, plazas, and cultural attractions, while accommodations on the outskirts provide a quieter environment.

Keep in mind that accommodations in Cuba, especially during peak tourist seasons, can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to book your stay in advance to secure your preferred choice. Enjoy your stay in Guantánamo and explore the local culture, natural beauty, and attractions the province has to offer.

Travel Tips Guantánamo Traveling to Guantánamo, Cuba, offers a unique opportunity to explore a less-visited part of the country with rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your trip to Guantánamo:

  • Currency: Cuba primarily uses two currencies: the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). Tourists typically use CUC for most transactions. Exchange your currency for CUC at official exchange offices (CADECA) or banks. Small amounts of CUC for tips and small purchases can be handy.
  • Cash: Credit and debit cards issued by U.S. banks may not work in Cuba, so bring enough cash for your entire trip. ATMs that accept foreign cards are available in some cities, but they may have limited availability and may not always work.
  • Travel Insurance: It’s highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, as well as trip cancellation or interruption. Check with your insurance provider to ensure you have the necessary coverage for your trip to Cuba.
  • Visa and Tourist Card: Depending on your nationality, you may need a tourist card or visa to enter Cuba. Check with the Cuban embassy or consulate in your country for specific requirements.
  • Local Language: Spanish is the official language in Cuba. While some people in the tourism industry may speak English, it’s helpful to have some basic Spanish phrases and a translation app on your phone.
  • Internet Access: Internet access in Cuba can be limited and expensive. Wi-Fi hotspots are available in public areas, but you’ll need to purchase internet cards from ETECSA (the state telecom provider) to access Wi-Fi. Don’t expect a fast and reliable connection.
  • Local Transportation: Guantánamo has a variety of transportation options, including taxis, bicitaxis, buses, and bicycle rentals. Walking is a great way to explore the city center.
  • Electricity: Cuba uses the Type A and Type B electrical outlets with a standard voltage of 110V and a frequency of 60Hz. You may need a power adapter if your devices use a different plug type or voltage.
  • Safety: Guantánamo, like most of Cuba, is considered safe for travelers. However, it’s wise to take standard safety precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings and being aware of your surroundings.
  • Local Customs: Cubans are known for their warm hospitality. Respect local customs and be polite when interacting with locals. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people.
  • Local Cuisine: Enjoy traditional Cuban dishes at local restaurants and paladares. Try specialties like ropa vieja (shredded beef), arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and tostones (fried plantains).
  • Weather: Guantánamo has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season (November to April) is the best time to visit for favorable weather.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Learn about Cuban culture and etiquette, including the importance of music, dance, and family in Cuban life. Participate in local traditions and cultural events if possible.

By keeping these travel tips in mind, you can have a more enjoyable and culturally enriching experience while exploring Guantánamo and immersing yourself in Cuban culture and history. Enjoy your journey in this unique part of Cuba!

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Guantánamo Bay

visit guantanamo cuba

  • 1.1 By plane
  • 1.2 By land
  • 2 Get around
  • 6.2 Self-catering

visit guantanamo cuba

Guantánamo Bay is a bay at the southeast end of the island of Cuba . The area surrounding its southern part hosts a United States Naval Base. The northern part of the bay is under Cuban control.

Get in [ edit ]

visit guantanamo cuba

Access to the northern part of the bay can be made from Guantánamo city or one of the smaller towns on the bay itself such as Caimanera and Boqueron , which are to immediate north of the U.S.-held territory. Guantánamo city has trains to Havana .

Getting in to the U.S. sector is generally limited to those with business at the naval base. Non-U.S., non-military personnel have been to the base. Some are still there.

By plane [ edit ]

  • 20.085278 -75.158056 1 Mariana Grajales Airport ( GAO  IATA ) Cubana de Aviación flies from Havana to Guantánamo City, which is close to the bay and near the town of Paraguay.

The U.S. sector is not served by Cubana de Aviación. The naval base's remaining airstrip, Leeward Point Field , does not have an international airport code of GTMO.

By land [ edit ]

Hotel Islazul, Guantánamo city may be able to arrange tours to the American military for around $40 though this service is not always available.

Until the 1953-59 revolution, thousands of Cubans commuted daily from outside the base to jobs within. In mid-1958, vehicular traffic was stopped; workers were required to walk through the base's several gates. Public Works Center buses were pressed into service almost overnight to carry the tides of workers to and from the gate. By 2006, only two elderly Cubans still crossed the base's North East Gate daily to work on the base, because the Cuban government prohibits new recruitment.

In the past, Cubans fleeing the revolution found refuge in the US controlled territory. Later, both the U.S. and Cuba surrounded the naval base with mines. The U.S. has since removed their minefield, though the Cuban mines remain.

Get around [ edit ]


The U.S. naval base's main settlements are located near the disused McCalla Airfield on the eastern side of the bay's mouth. Ferries ply the water between there and the larger, functioning Leeward Point Airfield.

See [ edit ]

Do [ edit ], buy [ edit ].

There is a small souvenir stand within the camp itself, selling small items to take home. These include goggly-eyed small fluffy toys, and clothing featuring the phrase "I went to Guantanamo Bay, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt. Allegedly."

Eat [ edit ]

Budget [ edit ].

visit guantanamo cuba

  • 19.9171 -75.1387 1 McDonald's , Ackerman Rd . The only McDonald's on the Cuban island.  
  • KFC .  
  • Bundu Khan .  

Self-catering [ edit ]

  • 19.91638 -75.14005 2 Navy Exchange .  

Drink [ edit ]

  • Iceland Juice , windward side .  

Sleep [ edit ]

  • Navy Lodge ( Building 2128 ), ☏ +1 757-458-3103 , [email protected] . Requires military ID and orders/ authorization to visit base. ( updated Mar 2018 )
  • 19.907752 -75.207853 1 Navy Gateway Inns & Suites , toll-free: +1-877-NAVY-BED (6289-233) . Check-in: 3PM , check-out: 11AM . Free Wifi and laundry. ( updated Mar 2018 )

Go next [ edit ]

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Man with Che tattoo at Maguana Beach near Baracoa.

Guantánamo Province

A fantasy land of crinkled mountains and exuberant foliage, the Cuban Guantánamo remains a galaxy away from modern America in ambience. That doesn't stop most people associating it with the United States Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which continues in operation, though downsized. Off the base, the region’s isolated valleys and wild coastal microclimates (arid in the south, lush in the north) are Cuba at its most mysterious and esoteric. Herein lie primitive musical subgenres, little-known Afro-Cuban religious rites, and echoes of an indigenous Taíno culture supposedly wiped out by the Spanish centuries ago – or so you thought.

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Must-see attractions.

El Yunque

Baracoa's rite of passage is the 8km (up and down) hike to the top of this moody, mysterious mountain. Views from the summit (575m) and the flora and…

Zoológico de Piedras

Zoológico de Piedras

Surreal even by Cuban standards, the Zoológico de Piedras is an animal sculpture park set amid thick foliage in the grounds of a mountain coffee farm,…

Museo Arqueológico 'La Cueva del Paraíso'

Museo Arqueológico 'La Cueva del Paraíso'

Baracoa's most impressive museum, La Cueva del Paraíso is a series of caves that were once Taíno burial chambers. Among nearly 2000 authentic Taíno pieces…

Parque Natural Majayara

Parque Natural Majayara

Southeast of town in the Parque Natural Majayara are a couple of magical hikes and swimming opportunities plus an archaeological trail in the grounds of a…

Fuerte Matachín

Fuerte Matachín

Baracoa is protected by a trio of muscular Spanish forts. This one, built in 1802 at the southern entrance to town, houses the Museo Municipal. The small…

Palacio Salcines

Palacio Salcines

Local architect Leticio Salcines (1888–1973) left a number of impressive works around Guantánamo, including his personal residence built in 1916, a lavish…

Río Toa

Ten kilometers northwest of Baracoa, the Toa is the third-longest river on the north coast of Cuba and the country's most voluminous. It's also an…

Finca Duaba

Finca Duaba

Five kilometers out of Baracoa on the road to Moa and then 1km inland, Finca Duaba offers a fleeting taste of the Baracoan countryside. It's a verdant…

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Things to do in Guantanamo Cuba

visit guantanamo cuba

Considered the easternmost province of the island of Cuba, there are countless things to see and do in Guantanamo . As well as being the Cuban province with the greatest amount of historical heritage, its location makes it a true natural paradise.

From a city that has both high historical and cultural importance, as well as a wide range of beaches and nature, Guantánamo is one of the most visited cities in Cuba. It is also just a few kilometres from Baracoa , another of the country’s urban jewels prized by the locals. Are you going to miss it?

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What are the best things to do in Guantanamo Cuba ?

visit guantanamo cuba

1. Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Ricci

Located inside the José Martí Park, this small church is a great attraction for locals and travellers alike; in fact, it is considered the smallest cathedral in the world.

Consisting of three naves decorated with numerous stained glass windows and a beautiful bell tower, this cathedral tops the list of the top places to see in Guantánamo de Cuba. To complete your visit, you can also visit the interior of this symbolic building, which is well worth a visit!

visit guantanamo cuba

2. José Martí Park in Guantanamo Cuba

After your visit to the Cathedral of Santa Catalina de Ricci , we recommend a stroll through the beautiful José Martí Park. Formerly known as the Plaza de Armas, it is currently one of the most striking spaces in the city.

In this park you will be able to enjoy a pleasant stroll among dense trees, and you will come across different iconic constructions, such as the sculpture of José Martí , or the famous shell and its fountain. One of the most pleasant visits in Guantánamo.

3. Guantanamo Market

The Guantánamo Market is one of the most iconic buildings in the city on an architectural level, and was designed by the famous José Lecticio Salcines, who gave its façade a neoclassical style.

Being one of the main places to see in Guantánamo, you will enjoy the market’s beautiful façade as well as its interior, divided into four areas completely dedicated to commerce. Don’t forget your camera!

Organise your travel itinerary with Passporter , completely free to use, easy and practical. Get inspired by the experiences of other travellers and choose the places that interest you most by adding them to your route map.

4. Punta de Maisí

If you love nature, you cannot miss this corner of Guantánamo de Cuba. Punta de Maisí, one of the most renowned destinations in the area, has several natural wonders.

There you will find the famous Terrazas de Marinas, also known as the Escalones de Gigantes ; these huge rocks emerge from the sea and reach a height of 460 metres. To end your visit, don’t forget to take a dip in the turquoise waters of the impressive Pozo Azul . A true natural paradise.

visit guantanamo cuba

5. Plaza Mariana Grajales

The Plaza Mariana Grajales is a place that is sure to leave you speechless, especially for its magnitude. It is mainly characterised by the group of sculptures made by various renowned local architects and sculptors.

Inside you will also find one of the most important monuments in Guantanamo: the Monument of the Heroes. Depending on the time of year you travel to Guantánamo, you can attend one of the cultural events that usually take place in this famous square. The square is also completely covered with grass, making it an ideal place for a stroll.

6. Salcines Palace in Guantanamo Cuba

The Palacio de Salcines is one of the most iconic buildings in Guantanamo, characterised by its eclectic architectural style typical of the 20th century.

Located in the historic centre of the city, it is a real architectural jewel made up of three floors with a beautiful dome on the top. It is crowned by a sculpture well known by the locals called La Fama . You can enter and enjoy a magnificent Art Gallery exhibiting a wide variety of local works.

7. Cueva del Paraíso Archaeological Museum

This natural archaeological museum, located in Baracoa , is one of the most important natural sites in the province of Guantánamo in Cuba. Located inside a cave, it is divided into three different rooms.

In each of them, you can discover different types of objects, utensils and even ways of life of the first civilisations of the area. You will feel like a real explorer as you stroll through a journey full of historical value, an adventure not to be missed!

things to do guantanamo cuba

Travel Tip: To organize your trip we recommend using Passporter totally free. You can be inspired by the experiences of other travelers, choose the places that interest you most, create the travel route with a geolocated map, upload all important documents such as reservations and invite your friends so that everyone can participate in the organization of the trip.


Things to do around Guantanamo Cuba

1. visit maguana beach.

If you are looking forward to spending the day at the beach, in the province of Guantánamo you have the ideal place to do so: Maguana Beach.

Although the accessibility is not ideal, as it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive, it is definitely worth a day trip. Being an authentic white sandy beach with crystal clear waters, it is very popular with the locals. You can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere in a truly paradisiacal setting.

visit guantanamo cuba

2. Climb to the summit of El Yunque

Famously known as El Yunque, this imposing 575 metre-tall mountain is one of the most visited natural spots in the province of Guantánamo in Cuba.

It is a protected natural park located 10 kilometres from Baracoa, and its most characteristic feature is the impressive mountain with its flattened summit. It was named after Christopher Columbus, who compared the shape of this natural element to that of a working anvil. You can book your excursion and immerse yourself in a route full of incredible flora and fauna – quite a spectacle!

visit guantanamo cuba

3. Bay of Guantanamo Cuba

Located on the southern coast of the province is the imposing US naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Considered the third largest bay in the world, you can enjoy unbeatable views of this place if you head to the town of Caimanera . A real gem to behold on your trip to Guantanamo.

Baracoa, also known as the Primate City, is considered the oldest colonial city in Cuba. This place is one of the greatest treasures in Guantánamo de Cuba, mainly due to its historical and natural importance.

Nestled amidst lush vegetation and towering mountain massifs, this small town not only offers a myriad of small streets full of history, but also has great nature. Between its crystal clear beaches and beautiful national parks, Baracoa has become a must-see on your trip to Guantánamo.

5. Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

This national park is not only one of the most important natural sites in all of Cuba, but also its flora and fauna is highly protected due to the great value of its biodiversity.

Having been declared a World Heritage Site , this enormous territory covers more than 70,000 hectares. The park, as well as offering an infinite number of places where you can go on long free or guided routes, also offers camping areas and accommodation. Get to know the secrets of the forest in depth while you enjoy a nature that will leave you speechless.

visit guantanamo cuba

Things to do with children in Guantanamo Cuba

Guantánamo is an ideal destination for travelling with children, especially because of its wide range of natural attractions. They will have a great time discovering the city, but even more so exploring the different corners of nature that this beautiful province has to offer.

1. Discover the Zoológico de Piedras

A great way to start your trip to Guantánamo is to spend the day at the Zoológico de Piedras. Located just 24 kilometres from the city, this is the ideal place to spend some quality time with the family.

Unlike classic zoos, here you won’t find real animals, but stone ones! This site houses more than 426 pieces created by the famous sculptor Ángel Iñigo Blanco, distributed in an exotic and conditioned landscape that somehow manages to immerse you completely in the environment. A real adventure that both adults and children will enjoy.

2. Enjoy Blanca Beach

Despite being almost 4 hours away from the city, Playa Blanca is still one of the top recommendations for your trip to Guantánamo.

It is not surprising that this beach is one of the most popular in Guantánamo province, considering the incredible crystal clear waters it offers and the huge variety of plants and wildlife that surrounds it. You can always spend the night in Baracoa if you prefer to make the journey there even more cost-effective.

3. Visit the Boca de Yumurí

Children love outdoor adventures and, luckily, Guantanamo offers a huge amount of places you can enjoy all together.

Among them is the Boca de Yumurí, located in the municipality of Baracoa. This incredible natural spot is mainly formed by the Yumurí River, which flows between impressive stone canyons. We recommend an excursion to the Isla de las Almendras, located at the mouth of the river, which will delight the little ones!

If you want to know what else to see in Cuba read our post: Things to do and see in Cuba

Itinerary for your trip to Guantanamo Cuba

Here is our map with the places we recommend to visit in Guantánamo so that you can organise your trip easily and quickly. You can also add important documents such as tickets, hotel reservations and even invite your friends to be part of the itinerary organisation. 

Using Passporter is free of charge and will help you travel in a more organised way . You can organise your trip by registering on the website or downloading the app so you can carry everything in your pocket 🙂

Things to do in Guantanamo in 2 days

  • Visit St. Catherine’s Cathedral
  • Visit the Guantanamo Market
  • Enter the Cueva del Paraíso Archaeological Museum
  • Admire the summit of El Yunque
  • Stroll through Jose Marti Park

Things to do in Guantanamo in 3 days

  • Take a dip in the waters of Punta de Maisí
  • Visit the Plaza Mariana Grajales
  • Photograph the Salcines Palace
  • Spend the day at Maguana Beach
  • Stroll around Baracoa
  • Visit the Zoológico de Piedras
  • Sail around the Boca de Yumurí

How to plan your itinerary of places to see in Guantanamo Cuba?

Sign up to Passporter and plan your trip in the most organised way and according to the days and places you want to see in Guantanamo.

With the app you can:

  • Get inspiration from the experiences of other travellers.
  • Save important information about the destinations you want to visit that you have found on the internet. Just install the Chrome extension and save everything useful for your trip.
  • Save your tickets and reservations.
  • Organise your route on Google maps with your accommodation as the starting point or any other that you indicate.
  • Find out the best travel option for each place.
  • Save and publish your own photos and experiences as you go along, so that when someone asks you “How was your trip to Guantanamo?” you can reply “Visit my traveller profile on Passporter!”
If you want to learn more about how to get the most out of the Passporter app, you can read our post:  How to create your travel itinerary with Passporter .

Frequently asked questions about a trip to Guantanamo Cuba

– You can rent a car and drive about 2 hours from Guantanamo de Cuba. – You can hire a taxi for about 35€ and drive for about 2 hours from Guantánamo de Cuba.

To get to Playa Blanca, you can rent a car. Once there, park and walk across a small wooden bridge that will take you directly to the beach.

A ticket to the Zoológico costs 1 CUC (aproximately 0,80€)

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Guantánamo, Cuba

Visit guantanamo, a beautiful province of cuba that hides valuable natural, historical and cultural jewels.

Guantánamo, Cuba

The province of Guantánamo , the easternmost province of Cuba , for around 400 years was an isolated area of the island, which could only be reached by sea. Inside you will find three world heritage sites , which makes it the province with the largest quantity on the island.

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Its location has made this province a true natural paradise, as it has exotic virgin beaches such as Playa Duaba , Playa Mapurisí or Playa Maguana ; fascinating perfectly preserved natural reserves such as the Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt ( Alejandro de Humboldt National Park ), Boca de Yumurí or El Yunque ; beautiful cities founded since the 16th century by the Spanish, such as the famous colonial town Baracoa   and Guantánamo .

In turn, Guantanamo is known for the establishment of the controversial US Naval Base in the town of Caimanera in 1902. Apart from the existence of the famous facilities, Caimanera has beautiful and impressive places to enjoy unforgettable vacations.

Baracoa, Guantánamo

On your tour of this province, be sure to visit the old colonial city of Baracoa , the Ciudad Primada . Its splendor makes it one of the most visited, highlighting the sculptural fortifications that protect it ( Matachín Fort , La Punta Fort or the Seboruco Castle ).

Currently, the communication infrastructures are good in this province, since it has two airports and the Viaducto de La Farola ( La Farola Viaduct ), an authentic work of Cuban engineering that provides easy access to Guantánamo. 

Visit one of the most important and unknown areas of Cuba, discover its interesting history and the beauty of its nature that gives life to this wonderful place.

What to see in Guantánamo?

What are the best trips to take in guantánamo, where to stay in guantánamo, how to get to guantánamo, cuba, when to visit guantánamo.

Guantánamo, the “land between rivers” offers a wide variety of plans and places to visit. Much of its destinations are characterized by the unique natural beauty that surrounds them, without neglecting the important history that composes them.

Its capital, the City of Guantánamo , is a large city full of color and life. Its colonial style is a representation of the Spanish and French influence of the time and the importance it had at that time due to its commercial activities in sugar cane, coffee and cotton.

Among the places to visit, the following stand out: the Tumba and los Cafetales Franceses ( the French Coffee Plantations ), both World Heritage Sites and clear representatives of the Afro-descendant culture in Cuba. Another is the Catedral Santa Catalina de Ricci ( Santa Catalina de Ricci Cathedral ), which presents a heritage architecture from the 19th century that adorns the historic center of the city.

Baracoa, Cuba

In the east of the province is Baracoa , with an important role in history, as it was the first Spanish settlement on the island. Founded in 1511, it was declared a National Monument for its perfectly preserved natural and historical wealth.

Territory found by Columbus himself, it houses the Cruz de la Parra , an authentic cross brought by the admiral and still preserved in the Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción ( Our Lady of the Assumption Parish ). In addition, the city presents archaic buildings such as three forts ( Matachín Fort, La Punta and the Seboruco Castle ) that once protected the important city.

Parque Nacional Alejandro Humboldt, Guantánamo

Its natural wealth is unmatched throughout the island, as it has two world heritage sites: Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt ( Alejandro de Humboldt National Park ) and the Reserva de la Biosfera Cuchillas del Toa ( Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve ) that constitute a treasure of endemic fauna and flora for Cuba. In turn, its fabulous landscapes are complemented by El Yunque  and the paradisiacal beaches with crystalline waters that adorn a large part of the Baracoa coast.

The easternmost point of the island is known as Punta de Maisí , a spectacular place if what you are looking for is to learn a little more about the island's aboriginal traditions and culture . You will be able to explore coffee plantations , see fascinating marine terraces , navigate through a beautiful well with crystal clear turquoise waters : Pozo Azul ( Blue Well ) and of course, a majestic lighthouse , the origin of the Spanish settlement, built in the 19th century .

To the south of the province you find Caimanera , the closest point to one of the most disparate areas in all of Cuba, with an abundant natural and archaeological wealth. The situation so close to the naval base that the United States has had there since 1903 can undoubtedly arouse the curiosity of many people, although it must be understood at all times that it is not a tourist destination that can be visited. However, this town offers much more landscape, and you will find amazing semi-desert territories ( Tinajones ) or a wonderful ecological reserve ( Hatibonico ).

In Guantánamo you will find enough excursions to dazzle you with the nature that it is filled with.

Río Toa, Guantánamo

It is advisable to spend several days in Baracoa   since, in addition to visiting the beautiful city, you will find excursions to the Reserva de la Biosfera Cuchillas del Río Toa ( Cuchillas del Río Toa Biosphere Reserve ), a fascinating ecological paradise declared a Natural Heritage of Humanity . Located in the Sagua-Baracoa massif, it represents one of the most important centers of endemic fauna and flora on the island .

Within this reserve and with the same title as Natural Heritage of Humanity , you will find the well-known Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt ( Alejandro de Humboldt National Park ), a unique natural treasure throughout the island with several routes to enjoy the important biodiversity that composes it. The fauna and flora found in this park represents one of the greatest places of endemism in the world , without a doubt a privilege that the island possesses.

Río Miel, Baracoa

The reserve also includes the illustrious Parque el Yunque ( El Yunque  Park ), which is home to an anvil-shaped rock formation, which has become a symbol of the city of Baracoa . In this splendid park you can explore both dense forests and fascinating cocoa and coconut fruit crops , and you will have the possibility to enjoy a refreshing swim in a waterfall of turquoise waters or an adventurous Jeep tour .

You will find other parks such as Majayara and  Yumurí , in which in addition to the fantastic views and beautiful nature, you will find an important cultural value. In Majayara you can enjoy speleology and appreciate important aboriginal petroglyph carvings . In Yumurí , in addition to splendid viewpoints , you will find the Nengón and the Kiribá festivals, traditional Afro-descendant dances from the area.

In Punta de  Maisí , the easternmost tip of Cuba, you can enjoy natural excursions to delight yourself with the impressive marine terraces and the splendid Pozo Azul ( Blue Well ). It has considerable archaeological wealth , since it was an important place of development of the Taino culture . A day trip can be organized, although if you prefer you can spend a couple of nights there and enjoy nature and the sea.

Visiting Caimanera has become a more crowded destination, but not just for trying to spot the US Naval Base . Within this town you will find protected natural areas such as the Reserva de la Biosfera de Baconao ( Baconao Biosphere Reserve ). In this is the Reserva Ecológica de Hatibonico ( Hatibonico Ecological Reserve ), which has a semi-desert landscape with rock formations commonly known as Monitongos . You can choose a one-day excursion from Guantánamo to Caimanera, but if you prefer, you can also make plans to spend a few days there and enjoy what this fabulous town has to offer.

Although Guantánamo is more attractive due to its nature, it is also an ideal place to visit its paradisiacal beaches and enjoy a well-deserved rest . You will have the pleasure of being able to choose between nearby beaches such as Playa Miel and Manglito ; more private and relaxing ones like Mapurisí, Nava, Cajuajo or La Fundadora beaches ; one with interesting black sands and historical importance : Duaba beach; and some with fine white sands and crystal clear waters such as Playa Blanca   and  Maguana .

In Guantánamo, as in the rest of Cuba, staying in a private house is without a doubt an experience like no other. This option will take you into the culture and you will enjoy living the Cuban lifestyle first hand . In addition to the warm welcome that the locals will give you, you will enjoy having tips and recommendations of places to see, eat or activities to do from people who know the region perfectly. 

But, if you prefer, there are also a series of hotels and ecological hostels where you can enjoy Guantánamo .

In the capital you will find the Hotel Guantánamo , a comfortable hotel with a Caribbean colonial style with a refreshing pool; the Hotel Martí , a pleasant hotel in the historic center of the city; the Hotel Brasil , an old renovated building in the center of the city with a Brazilian style; Villa La Lupe , a fantastic hotel with pools and comfortable cabins on the outskirts of the city.

City of Baracoa

In Baracoa you will find the Hotel Plaza , a cozy restored hotel in the historic center of the city; the Hotel Baracoa , a beautiful hostel recently renovated with a spectacular view of the sea. The famous Hotel El Castillo , former Seboruco Castle, is a magnificent hotel with a swimming pool and an excellent view of the bay; and the Hotel Porto Santo , a heavenly hotel on a hill facing the sea, is ideal for a perfect rest.

If you are looking for a slightly cheaper option and more in the city center, you can find Hostal Río Miel , a comfortable hostel with a beautiful view of the sea; Hostal 1511 , a unique hostel in a cozy colonial house; the Hostal La Rusa , a pleasant hostel with beautiful views of the sea; and the Hostal La Habanera , a beautiful inn with a perfect location, next to the historic center and a few meters from the sea.

If you are looking for accommodation surrounded by fascinating nature, you can select the option of ecological hostels such as Campismo El Yunque ( Camping El Yunque ), a comfortable campsite in the El Yunque Natural Park located right next to the Río Duaba ( Duaba River ); Finca La Esperanza , an authentic place to connect with nature, where you can enjoy the surroundings in a traditional way; Campismo Duaba ( Camping Duaba ), a colorful campsite also very close to the Duaba River and the Cascada de Baracoa ( Baracoa Waterfall ).

In Maisí you can find the Hotel Faro de Maisí , a colorful hotel remodeled for a pleasant stay in the town; and the Villa Punta de Maisí , a wonderful hostel with a refreshing pool and a beautiful view of the lighthouse and the sea. 

In Caimanera you’ll find the Hotel Caimanera , a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool adorned with slender Caribbean palms.

To get to Guantánamo you have different options that fit your travel style and budget. The first of them, rare, is on a yacht , by which you can visit the region arriving from Porto Santo in the Bahia de Baracoa (Bay of Baracoa).

Another alternative, a bit more common among travelers, is by plane . Guantánamo has two national airports ( Mariana Grajales Airport in the city of Guantánamo and Baracoa Airport in Baracoa ). Despite being one of the most expensive options, it is without a doubt one of the best, since the distance from Havana is significant, making it an ideal option to make the most of your time on the island.

You can rent a car or hire a taxi ( private transfer ), and the central highway gives you the possibility to go from Havana to Guantánamo in no less than 12 hours , although it must be taken into account that the journey to cross the island is from its west to its easternmost end. If you enjoy the freedom of driving and want a tour of the different provinces of Cuba , renting is a good option, although it is generally expensive. If you prefer to save those hours of driving to better enjoy the landscape and even save yourself a little time, it is advisable to use the private transfer, which in turn can serve to receive valuable information in situ .

One of the cheapest options is the Viazul , a bus that runs through the different provinces with specific stops. It is one of the options that takes the longest since there is no direct bus route to Guantánamo. The tour will be around 20 hours from Havana .

You can enjoy visiting this region throughout the year, although if you like culture and want to enter it in a more intimate way, you cannot miss the following events: 

Enjoy the Fiesta a la Guantanamera ( Guantanamera Festivities ) from December 1 to 4 , a cultural celebration in which the different provinces and even some invited countries participate. Activities are carried out to promote and preserve Cuban cultural values.

Visit the region during the Festival Nacional del Changüí Elio Revé Matos ( National Festival of Changüí Elio Revé Matos ), a festival that takes place every 2 years from May 30 to June 4 . It is a lively party that brings together important personalities of Cuban music and culture, where the indigenous rhythm of the Changüí is mainly celebrated.

Enjoy the Guantanamo and Baracoa Carnivals, the most anticipated parties of the year by locals. Between typical music, costumes and floats, there is a unique atmosphere. The Carnaval de Guantánamo ( Guantánamo Carnival ) is celebrated in the hot month of August and the Carnaval de Baracoa ( Baracoa Carnival ) is celebrated at the beginning of April .

The Semana de la Cultura Guantanamera y Baracoense ( Guantanamera and Baracoense Culture Week ) is one of the most important cultural celebrations for the people of Guantanamo. Some of the traditions of the region are enjoyed with joyful dances, beautiful artistic manifestations and craft fairs. Guantánamo is held in the last week of February and Baracoa is held the last week of March .

You can also visit Baracoa   during the Fiesta de las Aguas , a festival between August 10 and 15 , where the anniversary of the city is celebrated. Among the cultural activities the traditions of the old town are celebrated.

Interactive map:

What to see :

  • City of Guantánamo
  • Plaza del Mercado Market Square
  • Policarpo Pineda Rustán Library
  • Plaza Mariana Grajales Square
  • Punta de Maisí
  • Boca de Yumurí
  • Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
  • Seboruco de Santa Bárbara Castle
  • Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
  • La Farola Viaduct
  • Zoológico de Piedras
  • Playa Blanca
  • Maguana Beach
  • Baracoa Municipal Museum
  • Cueva del Paraíso Archeological Museum

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Guantánamo, Cuba

Discover guantánamo and enjoy one of the most pure and interesting regions of eastern cuba..

Guantánamo, Cuba

Guántanamo , in Cuba , is the most eastern province of the island, and probably the most attractive one thanks to the mixture of green areas , mountainous systems and paradisiacal beaches. If we add to these awesome views interesting monuments and historic places you will have an unforgettable holiday . Choose a place that combines beauty , culture and history . It is always a good decision.


The history of the Guantánamo province dates back to the Taino culture , an indigenous and autonomous tribe that occupied the mountainous area. In the Museo Arqueológico La Cueva del Paraíso   (Cueva del Paraíso Archeological Museum) you will be able to discover everything that has to do with the Taino culture . The museum is located in the municipality of Baracoa , the most important city of this province with Guantánamo .

Baracoa, Guantánamo

The province and the city share the same name: Guantánamo . Initially, the city was inhabited by Franco-Haitian immigrants in the presence of the Haitian Revolution . Guantánamo is known for La Guantanamera composed by Joseíto Fernández in the 30s. It was popularised by the great Celia Cruz . Also, Guantánamo is globally known for the American military base , which can be seen from the Altura de Malones (Malones’ Heights) . It offers you a great panoramic view if you have time to stop and contemplate this impressive installation .

The most famous municipality from a holiday point of view is Baracoa . We could say that its history began when the disembarkation of Spanish Armed Forces occurred. The army was commanded by Diego Velázquez . They established the city of Baracoa and after that a legend started to spread. If you visit the Cathedral you will find out whether it is true or not.

By way of a recommendation, we must say that the best months to visit Guantánamo are April, August and December . Although music and happiness are always present, the festival ambience during these months is incomparable with other months. Something so simple like the disembarkation of Antonio Maceo, the foundation of Baroca or the traditions of its neighbours motivate the guantanameros to sing and dance.

Interactive map:

What to see :

  • Baracoa Cathedral
  • Seboruco Castle
  • Municipal Museum of Baracoa
  • Archaeological Museum of Baracoa
  • Viaducto La Farola (La Farola Viaduct)
  • Boca de Yumurí
  • Maguana Beach
  • Duaba Beach
  • Parque nacional Alejandro de Humboldt (Alejandro de Humboldt National Park)
  • Majayara National Park
  • Chocolate Factory of Baracoa
  • Cone Factory of Baracoa
  • Cueva del Agua
  • Veteran Centre of Baracoa
  • Salcines Palace
  • Provincial Museum of Guantánamo
  • José Martí Park
  • José Policarpo Pineda Rustán Provincial Library
  • Plaza Mariana Grajales Square
  • Zoológico de Piedras (Stone Zoo of Guantánamo)

Other nearby destinations:

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  • ✓ Disseminate Cuba , its culture and its heritage .
  • ✓ Promote sustainable tourism .
  • ✓ Support the local economy, prioritizing direct contact with Cuban agencies.
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Guantanamo Bay explained in maps and charts

The world’s most infamous detention centre, ‘Gitmo’, has become a symbol of human rights abuses.

Infographic: Guantanamo Bay explained in maps and charts

On January 11, 2002, exactly four months after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the United States set up a high-security prison in its Guantanamo Bay base.

Since then, “Gitmo” has held up to 780 detainees, prisoners of the so-called “war on terror”. Today 39 remain.

Detainees in orange jumpsuits at Guantanamo Bay

Established during the presidency of George W Bush, the offshore jail was meant to hold suspected al-Qaeda members, captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

To date, of the 780 detainees, 732 have been released without charge, many after being detained for more than a decade without legal means to challenge their detentions.

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Located on the eastern tip of Cuba, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is 116sq km (45 sq miles) and has been under US control since the end of the 19th century.

The base is a hotly debated issue between the US and Cuba. For decades, Cuba insists that the US hand back the territory it took by force in 1898 and subsequently permanently leased from the government of Tomas Estrada Palma, Cuba’s first president, in 1903.

Map showing where Guantanamo Bay is

Initially set up as a temporary detention facility dubbed “Camp X-Ray” in 2002, the prison complex now comprises seven detention camps labelled according to the order they were built. According to the US military, all remaining detainees are in camps five and six.

Detainees by nationality

Since January 11, 2002, at least 780 detainees from 48 countries have been held in Guantanamo Bay. Only 16 were ever charged with criminal offences, according to Human Rights Watch .

Infographic showing the Guantanamo Bay detainees by country.

The countries with the highest number of detainees include: Afghanistan (219), Saudi Arabia (134), Yemen (115), Pakistan (72) and Algeria (23) according to the New York Times’ Guantanamo Docket tracker.

The youngest detainee was 15-year-old Omar Khadr , a Canadian citizen who was released in 2015 after 13 years locked away.

In 2017, the Canadian government paid Khadr a 10.5 million Canadian dollar settlement ($8.1m) and formally apologised for any role the government played in the abuses he suffered as an inmate at Guantanamo Bay.

The oldest prisoner still being held is 73-year-old Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani national who has spent the last 17 years in detention without charge.

In May, the US approved Paracha’s release concluding only that he was “not a continuing threat” to the US. Paracha could be returned home in the next several months according to his lawyer.

What happened to the 780 detainees?

Since 2002, 732 Guantanamo detainees have been sent home or to other countries through prisoner transfer agreements. There are 39 still held. Nine died in custody.

Infographic showing what happened to the 780 detainees held in Guantanamo Bay

The countries that have taken the highest number of detainees include: Afghanistan (203), Saudi Arabia (140), Pakistan (63), Oman (30) and the UAE (24) according to the Guantanamo Docket .

Of the 39 detainees remaining, 17 are being held indefinitely with no recommendation for transfer, 10 are eligible for transfer if security conditions are met, 10 have been charged by the US military, and two have been convicted.

Closing the prison

Spanning four presidencies and nearly 20 years, the world’s most infamous detention centre has become a symbol of human rights abuses.

Several international human rights groups, including HRW, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross have repeatedly condemned the alleged human rights violations, including harsh interrogation methods that critics say amounted to torture.

Infographic of the past four US presidents's position on closing Guantanamo Bay

In 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the US should close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible, backing a key conclusion of a UN-appointed independent panel.

During his presidency, George W Bush said he would like to see Guantanamo Bay closed but that it would not be easy.

His successor, Barack Obama, promised to close Guantanamo’s detention centre and on his second day in office signed an executive order to shut it down within a year. That never happened.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump vowed to keep the prison open and signed his own executive order reversing Obama’s order.

President Joe Biden has renewed the Obama administration’s effort to close the prison. In July 2021, Moroccan prisoner Abdul Latif Nasser became the first detainee transferred under the Biden administration. He had been held by the US since 2002 without being charged.

About 540 detainees were released during the Bush presidency (2001-2009), approximately 200 during the Obama administration (2009-2017), one during Trump’s presidency (2017-2021) and one during Biden’s current presidency.

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
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  • Philippines
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  • Sao Tome & Principe
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  • Mt. Kilimanjaro Journal
  • Western Sahara
  • South Africa
  • Burkina Faso
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • SIerra Leone
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Puerto Rico
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • St. Martin/St. Maarten
  • US Virgin Islands
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  • Marshall Islands
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  • New Caledonia
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  • Solomon Islands
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Falkland Islands

Lee Abbamonte

Traveled to every country in the world

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Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: What It’s Really Like

I went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) with no expectations, no preconceived notions and an open mind. Of course, I had heard all the criticisms, opinions, and negative media coverage but as always, I wanted to see it for myself and form my own opinion. So after five days on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the place and an opinion that may surprise many people.

First, I want to state a few facts to dispel a few common misconceptions and misinformation that people have about Guantanamo Bay. The Naval Station has been around since the turn of the 20th century and was not formed as a result of Fidel Castro, The Cuban Missile Crisis or the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Also, the Bay of Pigs was not at Guantanamo Bay-it was in another part of Cuba.

When President Obama signed an order to close down Guantanamo Bay on his first day in office in 2009; he was attempting to shut down the detention center, not the Naval Station. Guantanamo Bay Naval Station will still be around regardless of whether the detention center is ever shut down or not.

Guantanamo Bay is divided into two parts; Naval Station and JTF or Joint Task Force; meaning all branches of the military working together. In order to get onto the JTF side of the island you need a special badge and clearance. I was able to tour the JTF side of the island and see the camps and detention centers from the outside-not inside-I saw no detainees.

Finally, and probably most important, is that according to multiple people I spoke with, nowadays the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are treated better than most soldiers on island. They receive excellent healthcare, food and are generally treated incredibly well: especially as some detainees are some of the world’s worst people. If they were to be held in federal prison, they would never receive the same treatment. Some detainees that have been transferred have begged to go back to GTMO.

Additionally, the detainees abuse the guards. Almost always unreported, detainees are known to go to the bathroom in their hands and throw it at the guards. They are also known to throw their own waste in other manners and spit at guards. They verbally abuse the guards and the guards are expected to basically take it.

Much of this special treatment is a result of the highly publicized and horrific prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and GTMO in the past so they are now, seemingly, overcompensating to avoid bad public relations. However, the public doesn’t realize that it goes both ways and again, some of these detainees are accused of and committed the worst crimes ever against America including 9/11 and the USS Cole bombing.

Finally, before I start talking about my actual experience in Guantanamo Bay, I will also state that I worked in One World Trade Center and lost many friends and former colleagues in 9/11. I had hoped to be able to attend some of the 9/11 hearings but the dates didn’t work out.

Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Welcome sign, Lee Abbamonte

I felt very free to basically do what I wanted around GTMO. I really had no idea what to expect. I have been on military bases before but again, there is something about Guantanamo Bay. Of course I wasn’t allowed to photograph certain things and there are a few areas that are totally off limits but nothing too crazy.

Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay view, Ridgeline Trail

I feel like I can really relate to kids and talk their language in a way that makes it interesting to them. It is seriously the most rewarding thing that I do. WT Sampson High School is a unique school, obviously with where it is located in GTMO. The kids are very worldly already in many cases. However, I tried to stress to them how they can do whatever they want and to learn as much as they can and basically showed them that I was no different than them 15 years ago.

Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, lecture

For me, these will be the lasting memories of Guantanamo Bay: talking to the kids and dispelling a lot of myths and misinformation about GTMO in my own mind and hopefully informing others who read this to form their own informed opinion. People will always have their own opinions about what side of the fence they stand on regarding GTMO. But you must realize this-Guantanamo Bay houses some of the worst people on the planet and does so with the best care possible.

If they were to close the detention center, where else will the detainees go? Nobody wants to take them: nations, states or even their native countries in many cases. Look what happened when President Obama tried to close the detention center back in 2009-no countries would take the detainees. Many detainees don’t even want to leave GTMO for fear of what happens to them after they leave.

So while the idea of GTMO may be controversial or appalling to some people, who are often misinformed-it seems to me to be necessary albeit very expensive for taxpayers. That is part of the dichotomy of Guantanamo Bay.

Disclaimer and Acknowledgements: I have no affiliation with the US military or any US governmental organization. I was invited to Guantanamo Bay and entered legally after a background check. I was not paid and I paid all my own expenses including flights, housing, rental car and food. All statements in this article are my words and I was not coerced in any way by anyone. These are my views based on what I saw, experienced and was told from multiple independent sources I came into contact with in Guantanamo Bay.

This trip to Guantanamo Bay was not an easy thing to arrange and there are many people to thank for making it happen. First and foremost, I want to thank my sponsor. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate what you did getting me to GTMO, introducing me to everyone, arranging the lecture and everything else. GTMO will miss you and best of luck on your next endeavor!

I also want to thank the Commanding Officer of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Captain JR Nettleton for having me at your house, for great conversation and for helping me out with a few contacts. I truly appreciate your kindness and help and I am happy to come back anytime.

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very interesting….is a diferent point of view.. im glad you had a great time..

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Thanks Emma!

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Hi Lee. I might be spending some time at Guantanamo. I really appreciate your article. Can you give any more insight into the culture outside of the base? Such as safety, indigenous neighboring villages… cool things to see and do? I’m trying to gauge whether there is enough ‘life style’ for 6 months. I enjoy small and cultural– but are there also some touristy spots to enjoy water sports, good restaurants, local live music… etc?? Thanks for anything else you can share. Lisa

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You can’t leave the base.

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Lee .. I have a question. If my buddy wants to visit me .. Will it be a problem ? I just heard that only spouses may visit their significant others.

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Lee, I was there right after after 9/11 happened. Was deployed there for what was suppose to be 6 months but ended up being 1 year. My mission was to feed the detainees. What a horrible experience one that I will never ever forget. I stayed in windward loop.

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Believe it because it did happen. They threw feces, spat on us and even got call a black bitch in Arabic but there was one there that was a professor out of Indiana that they later found out should not have been there and they released him, he’s the one that told me what the other one called me and yes there was nothing we could do. We fed them a hot breakfast, MRE for lunch that later turned into a hot lunch,dinner then a had to go back out to the camp site to give them a snack. Really? We even introduced them to kool aide yes it was like Burger King, they had it their way. But what I’m really pissed about is that the Soldiers that were stationed there for a year after 9/12 get no recognition like Iraq and Afghanistan. We left our families too.

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Every misconception you mention in this post, I had. Thanks for a really informative story. It must have been so eye opening for you.

It was David, thanks!

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I miss it. Lived there for 5 years. Just left March of this year.

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We lived at GTMO beginning yr ’73 to fall of ’75 and loved every minute of it. Our children are grown and have their own families now, but still talk about how much they loved GTMO too. Great school, pre-school, beaches. My husband and I both became certified in scuba diving and that added to the adventure too. No McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Ice Cream place, Subways. We loved it the way it was. We did go on an R&R to Haiti and Montego Bay, Jamaica while there and we had a floral shop for a short period of time. There was also a Cuban native who was a jeweler. We had Jamaicans that worked in the commissary and other areas on the base. We still miss it until this day.

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Damion, We were Blessed to be there for eleven years. It was an amazing place for our children to grow up. Many of things that Lee mentioned are the reasons we loved it. It was like Mayberry with much better weather. The safety and freedom our children experienced were like our parents or we enjoyed. I would go back in a heartbeat. Many Americans (and the world) really don’t realized this side of GTMO, and what a small part JTF has played in its history.

Wow, this is not what I was expecting to read. I had no idea the prisoners were treated so well. I can’t believe they throw their own feces at guards, that is disgusting.

It certainly is but it is very common in Federal prison but you just don’t really hear about it

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Inmates in ALL correctional facilities will throw urine and feces at the Officers, it’s called “gassing” and if you ever work in a female facility, they add their monthly blood to the mix. We were told to always keep a spare uniform in our car in case we needed to change after such an assault. Fortunately for us in the U.S., inmates face additional charges for throwing body fluids on us.

Now this is a blog post! Informative and opinionated based on real life experience that most people will never have and a little bit of controversy based on actual events, not biased opinion. Good for you and thanks for sharing. This is the best blog post I have read in a long time and I follow a lot of blogs.

Thank you very much! I really appreciate that Brian!

This is must read! Great stuff, Lee.

Thanks Nick!

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Did you speak with any of the detainees?

I did not Sophie…I have no business talking to them nor would I want to

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Thanks for the interesting post, I was looking for a first-hand account of what the larger base is like, and got just that. As for your reflections on the detention center, that is fairly irrelevant since you had no access, your opinions seem to be based on base staff, and as you’ve mentioned in the comments had no interest in, either.

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That says something doesn’t it? Al it does is show how many people can be fooled. But what about the immorality of incarcerating foreigners without trial? Then torturing them. These nice friendly guards don’t like to tell you their feelings, I know one and she won’t talk. The guards are lowered to the alleged level of the prisoners. Shame on the place and those who serve there.

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As someone who lives here, keep your shaming to yourself–we don’t want, need, or truly deserve it. Most people do not choose to come here, the military sends them. And as far as the Naval Station side goes, the service members stationed here have nothing to do with the camps. Like he said, this base has been here for a lot longer than the camps have been here and is part of the Southern Naval Command. The JTF side is completely different, but they didn’t choose to come here either. We didn’t put them in the camps, we didn’t detain them with no trial, and we sure as hell have nothing to do with the foreign policy of countries not wanting them which means that even if we wanted to, we couldn’t shut the camp down. You want us to let them go back to countries that are convinced the detainee’s have betrayed them while here and will kill them, and possibly their families, as soon as they set foot in their home country? Now who’s suggesting inhumane treatment?

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Planing a trip to Cuba– my native country -with my older son-in a couple of months- Can we get a tour of the base? anywhere inside–or we will have to just walk on the outside? are we allowed to take pictures of the outside area? Any airlines that will fly from Havana, to Guantanamo? Will appreciate any info you could give me. Thank you,

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This is in response to Brian Stephens who posted on July 11th, 2014. I am shocked by the ignorance of his comment. He clearly knows nothing about the complexity of the situation regarding those being held at gtmo. Many of them have killed Americans and of those released…many of them have returned to the fight and are killing Americans again. And do not judge the guards that walk those blocks. I have walked those blocks for 36 months and I am insulted by your comment….It was not my choice!…nor do I have any regrets…what you read in this article regarding their treatment is accurate.

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I agree with you…Lee and his kind seem to be naive to think nothing bad happens there…did he stay with the detainees? Does he know the perversion/torture of the guards…maybe he needs to look at documentaries of the acquitted without any charges after years of starvation, sleep deprivation… I wonder if Lee would like to be prisoner there (without charges of anything except for some allegations by a poor person who turned you in for $5000 …for example the electrician who served 4 years and the journalists who served 6+ and had to starve himself for 495 days before his case was looked at) years)considering they treat them so well. Lee should be ashamed of writing such junk.

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“Lee and his kind?” What about Saba and his kind? The kind that thinks that we’re naïve enough to believe that these people are pure as the driven snow? I’m sorry, but a hunger strike is not “starvation” or “torture.” Nice try at making a travel blog a platform for taqquia.

Sorry, if you ran in jihadi circles, you run the risk of capture.

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Hey! I really enjoyed this unusual destination post! Very informative.

Thanks Cacinda!

Lee, this is phenomenal. Thanks for sharing from a place that I never really gave much though to. You must envied by the other big travelers.

Thanks Mark…haha ya they came out of the woodwork asking me to help them get to GTMO…I have no connections to give though

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Hello lee,WoW thanks for sharing to your expirence about Guantanamo Bay Naval.And i will read also there’s Filipinos in Guantanamo Bay ….?me too,I am Filipino but I’m in hong kong right now!!!take care and god bless you.:)

Thanks Nancy and enjoy HK!

Hello Lee,WoW thanks for sharing to your expirence about Guantanamo Bay Naval.And I will read also there’s Filipilipo in Guantanamo Bay…I am a Filipino also….But am in hong Kong right now!!!take care and god bless you.:)

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Best written blog this year, no doubt, I never thought anything bad about GTMO except they are keeping the terrorists to gentle there and trial them too slow, I had a friend who almost got killed in 9/11 attack so I have no compassion at all to anyone involved in it and I’d like them to get death penalty asap. Unfortunately misinforming is one of the main reasons why people throughout the world have bad opinions about this and that and basically no matter what some half educated journalist write, there are always 35-50% readers who will instantly take it for granted, like they read it as sheer fact in Britannica ….anyway, I am glad You had a quality time there with the young ones as well….very nice indeed….hopefully I will have some good news by end of this year regarding Diego…

Thanks T…I appreciate that yes I am working the Diego angle but it’s very tough as you know!

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Definitely gives you a reminder that GTMO is not all about prisoners and International terrorists (i.e. the kids who live there because their parents are serving in the American Navy.) Very cool story!

By chance, will this visit and some of the contacts you made there help you further along in your quest to get permission to visit Wake Island within the foreseeable future?

Thanks Ray! I am working that angle for Wake as well…Wake is the dept of the interior which complicates it a little bit…I am working on putting a group to go there together in 2014.

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Really interesting post and I enjoyed reading it. It’s fascinating to see a side of Guantanamo that you don’t hear much about – which is what life is like for people based there. Having said that, I still think the detention centre there represents one of the most cruel and unethical aspects of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. I certainly think people who play a role in terrorism deserve to be punished and I am very sorry to hear you knew people who were killed in 2001. But if true justice is to be served, why does the US need to use a detention centre that is outside the boundaries of US law and not subject to the Geneva conventions? Hundreds of detainees were released without charge after years of awful treatment and many have still have not had a trial. If the US wants to show it is serious about justice, it should be applying the same procedures it uses in criminal cases against its own citizens – accused criminals in the US would not wait years for trials under these conditions. As of June this year, there are apparently 46 prisoners who are going to be detained indefinitely because they are deemed dangerous but there’s not enough evidence to try them. That’s not how a court should work. If we used this logic for every justice system there would be no presumption of innocence and no need for trials at all. No country’s military should be judge, jury and executioner. As I say, I appreciate you’re presenting your opinions and experiences from your time there and it is interesting. But there is more wrong with the Guantanamo Bay system than just the treatment of detainees that you’ve mentioned.

Thanks Turtle, I appreciate the detailed comment. I tried to present what I experienced as best I could so others can form their own opinion based on what I saw and was told.

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Turtle i guess your right, no country’s military should be judge, jury and executioner. We should just be like the terrorists and torture people, chop heads off, and kill with no remorse all in the name off allah….

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Andrew, I’ll assume you’re being flippant to make a point. This is a tricky issue, I’ll admit that. But by not giving detainees a fair trial and by holding them indefinitely without charge, the US is ignoring the very human rights it is trying to protect and spread around the world. The US justice system can’t let people like OJ Simpson or George Zimmermann go free (even though the majority think they were guilty) because of lack of evidence – and then apply different rules to these detainees. It’s hypocrisy and it devalues all the good work and ethics that happen elsewhere in the system.

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The detainees remaining at gtmo haven’t actually even been charged with a crime. They were picked up on the battlefield and designated “enemy combatants” because calling them “prisoners of war” would subject them to the Geneva Convention. Of course they are in fact prisoners of war, and the duration and conditions of their detention is clearly illegal. But there is no court with the authority, enforcement power, and political will to challenge the US on this issue. Those detainees with credible charges against them have been tried and transferred. Those who remain are stuck in legal limbo specifically because there’s nothing they’re accused of doing that is a prosecutable offense.

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Turtle, You are correct; the detainees deserve JUSTICE . . . maybe a 9 mm to the forehead. If you have not walked a mile in our boots; on patrol over there; DON\’T JUDGE. Unfortunately, we have to.

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I still think it should be closed down

Thanks Damon…so does the President!

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I have to admit, I have some mixed feelings reading this. Sure, they tell you the detainees are treated quite well, but how do you really know that? How do you know they weren’t just saying what they want you to report back? Sorry, can’t help but be a little cynical on that point.

Otherwise, interesting read on a place that most people will never have a chance to visit and great that you had a chance to talk to the high school kids there. I can’t even imagine being a kid growing up in a place like that.

Thanks Katie and I understand and yes it is a different experience but these kids were awesome and so full of curiosity…it was a real pleasure.

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@Katie- I was a kid that grew up there! And honestly I wouldn’t have wante to grow up anywhere else 🙂

It’s really awesome reading this blog- its very accurate in what it’s like there… Although Lee you didnt mention the Banana Rats! Can’t have GTMO’s iguanas without them! I was there 90-94 (i was in elementary school and my brothers were in highschool) and my parents moved back 02-06 so I visited as much as possible. A lot definitely changed in that time- like the food! We used to ONLY have McDonald’s- they even served as the pizza place for a long time.

@Lee- thanks for being interested enough to make it happen and get down there! I’ve always said its my favorite place on Earth, so it thrills me that you enjoyed your time there 🙂

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Katie I grew up there I know for fact the detainees are treated better than us

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@Katie……I was in the Army for 6.5 years and I did 2 of those years at Guantanamo Bay working in the camps with the detainees as a guard. I honestly hate talking about it at times especially when it comes to those who feel the detainees are “mistreated” because I hate trying to defend myself and my fellow service members who have served there. I know you don’t know me and have no reason to believe my word but I can honestly tell you that the detainees ARE NOT mistreated. I’m a correctional officer still today but I am no longer in the service I work at a federal prison and I can tell you that the detainees are treated WAY better and have WAY more luxuries than the American inmates in our prison system stateside do. I wish more people could have the chance to visit Guantanmo Bay so they can see first hand what it’s like but unfortunately that just won’t happen for everyone. I have a video posted on my FB of a clip from 60 minutes where they actually allowed them to go inside the camp in Guantanamo Bay and it gives a true insight to what the camp is like I urge everyone to watch that video so you can have an inside look at what it’s really like!

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@Katie- I can tell you from a first hand experience that the detainees do get treated quite well depsite the circumstances. I can’t imagine if the roles were reversed that any of us would still even be alive. Can you tell me of anyone who would want to get a cocktail mixture of feces, urine, semen, food and who knows whatever else they can come up with thrown at them and be able to not retaliate? Because the soldiers there are getting assaulted on a daily basis and they just drink water and drive on like it’s any other day. It is real easy to form an opinion about a place when you don’t have shit on your face. We cater to the detainees from ordering them special meals to pretty much shutting down the whole facility in order to not make one sound during their prayer times. Tell me again about cruel and unusual treatment?

@Lee- Thanks for your blog, I am glad you got to experience the island unlike most people will. It is truely a unique place and would love to go back and visit.

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After deploying to GTMO being a corrections military police officer in the US Army, They are treated better than most soldiers and most criminals in the states.

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So how do you know detainees are lying you guys are just puppets of the media whatever cnn tells you,you believe so sad

Wow that is not what I expected to hear you say but I also want to thank you for giving fair information and clearing some facts up. I didn’t realize that they wanted to shut down only the jail and not the base. I had no idea it was separate.

Thanks Michael!

How do you know to believe the people who told you they were treated well?

Jessica, I don’t but I am simply presenting what I was told but it was by several people unrelated to each other and who didn’t know that I write.

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Lee, great article. To back up your comments regarding detainee treatment, the ICRC monitors their treatment very closely. Thank you for making the trip to a terrific destination where I worked behind the wire with some fantastic people who were exceptionally professional. Well done. This is 2013 not 2003.

This is probably the coolest blog post I’ve ever read of yours of anyones. Not just because it’s good, which it is, but because nobody else has ever written about it. Although, I suppose that’s why I love reading your site; because you write about and go places nobody else does.

Thank you very much! Again, I really appreciate that!

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I think you have opened a door and certainly minds with this story. Honest and forthright. I only wish the Times or 60 minutes would pick up your story and let our fellow Americans know what really goes on and puts aside mis-conceptions and un-truths. Good reporting. Aside have you been to New Caledonia?

Thank you Hampton and yes I have been to New Caledonia…beautiful island! Very expensive too!

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Thank You, I was at the Windjammer and You are a truly amazing Young Man, I am happy to see Some one actually took the time to Define GTMO as it truly is…

Thanks a lot!!! Thanks a lot for coming out!

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As someone who grew up there since the age of 7 (I’m 33 now, and yes my folks are there still!) I’d have to say this is probably the best thing written by an “outsider” that I’ve seen. Thanks for speaking so highly of where I consider home! And thanks for spelling GTMO right! 🙂

Haha thank you and I was just being honest…I could see why people love being there…I actually miss it.

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Thanks for visiting my old home. There’s no place like HTML.

I assume that’s autocorrect but thank you!

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Lee, thanks so much for visiting and writing this blog post! I live in Guantanamo Bay and I write a blog to try and help people who are being assigned here or thinking about taking a job here to get a better idea of life in GTMO. Your article is exactly how everyone who lives here feels! The life we get to enjoy here is like a hidden secret!

Would you mind if I linked your article on my blog? ~Joy

Thanks Joy…it is definitely a secret!

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I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to our little Mayberry! Thank you for shedding light!

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Hey Lee! I am one of the many high school students that you talked to in the Library last week. It was great and i learned so many fascinating things about the world. Thank you for coming to the school and sharing with us!!!!

Thanks megan…I really appreciate all you guys coming to listen and ask great questions…made my trip!

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Lee, as a current resident of GTMO, I thank you for your interpretation of how life goes on here at GTMO. I think you hit every nail on the head with your views. As an Active Duty Army member, I can tell you this is the best duty station in the Army. And you didn’t even cover MWR (Military Welfare and Recreation). Scuba diving lessons at 1/3 cost of stateside, boat rentals, fishing, snorkeling, golf course, just to name a few.

Few those that doubt how the detainee’s are treated, I can assure you that you were told correctly about the detainee’s living better than the soldiers. Detainee’s get Playstations, Flat screen TV’s, top notch medical care. For example; If a military member gets injured and requires an MRI, that military member is flown off island to Jacksonville Naval Air Station (JAX) for the MRI after a few weeks of scheduling and paperwork. If a detainee requires an MRI, they get it done on island same or next day.

Again, I thank you for your post. I hope you have opend the eyes to many that had no idea about the wonderful place I currently call home.

Thanks Scott…I did forget to mention the costs and how cheap it is, you are right. The sailboat rental was like $15 an hour or something minimal and costs of just about everything was very was a pleasure to see!

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I miss gitmo. Was there from the age of 11 to almost 14. I loved the place and am fortunate to have been there. Great article.

Thanks and I feel fortunate to have been there even if just for 5 days!

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Great Article and nice to read a positive article. I think I spoke to you at NAS Jacksonville as you were jumping through hoops to get your ticket to get on the flight. I was dropping off my BF that works on base for the DOD. I am looking forward to going there soon for a visit 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience.

Hi heather, yes I remember and yes I did finally get on the flight after a few hours delay with paperwork!

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I was stationed on Gitmo for a short time after I got back from Vietnam. I was serving in the Marine Corps at the time and short timers were sent there to finish out the enlistment before discharge.Our job was to man the lines between our base and Cuba.I found Guantanamo to be a very nice place. On our down time we loved going swimming in the clear waters etc. We used the Ferry boat to go to the PX and Hospital if need be. Looks to me that things have built up a lot. The one thing that seems to come to mind, was the lecture we got on arrival. We were told of the danger of being out in the sun to long and if we got sunburn to the point we were unable to perform our duty, we would be charged with destruction of government property. Some day I would love to go back and visit and if it ever happens also to see Cuba beyond the military base.

Thanks Wilhelm, I hope you get to go back and yes the sun is intense!

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I hope you enjoyed the beaches and the cooking. Those are the two things I miss the most from living there. Thank you for abbreviating GTMO correctly.

haha funny how everyone says that!

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Great post! As someone who recently lived in GTMO for 2.5 years, it’s a good feeling when others realize that it’s not a terrible place. I would go back in a heart beat!

Thanks April!

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Having been assigned to GTMO twice, for a total of 5 years, I appreciate your accurate, and interesting post. Guantanamo was my favorite duty station during my 20 years in the US Navy. One minor point, you stated that the officers live pretty well. As a retired enlisted person, I can attest that accompanied enlisted personnel live almost as well. Of course, the unaccompanied enlisted live in barracks/dorms that are not as nice as living in a neighborhood home like the accompanied folks. Again, thank you for the great article.

Thanks Joe!

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Thank you again mr. Lee for speaking to us at the high school and answering our thousand questions about your travels. You have inspired most of my fellow classmates and have helped me become more aware of our world. Thank you for also posting the most truthful and accurate blog of GTMO I have ever read; I am sad that most Americans and high school students are unaware of this area but you have helped the masses with your observations so again I say thank you! Enjoy your trips (and if you sell your rebel pins I want one lol).

Haha thank you Audrey! I am keeping them for now but will keep you posted!

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The author, Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert, USMC (Ret.), was the first commander of the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He feels the detention center should be closed. I agree.

I don’t think there is a wring opinion on this issue Dave

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Very nice. I didn’t get to see you at the highschool for your lecture sadly because I was out at a class requiring me to work. I’d like to say that you hit the points right on for most everything on the base and with the detainees. Your facts are true, a multimillion piece of equipment was brought here for one detainee who had a rare disease. Us Americans can’t use it, but that one guy got to…. Also the military guys have what they call a “splash suit” which is used to block incoming “feces attacks” from Detainees.

Those stories, though not shocking are quite disturbing

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That’s my home!!! 🙂 Thank you for enlightening people on the actuality of it all so much happier to read this then all the articles of people who only talk bad on it GTMO. THANK YOU!!!!

You’re welcome and thank you.

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Thanks for doing this. I lived there a total of 4 years and it was the best time of my life. My parents are still there and going onto 10 years on the base. GTMO really is a great place to be at and I miss it everyday! Thanks again!!!

Thanks for the comment Doraima!

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Thank you so much for this article! I am glad someone is finally showing the wonderful side of GTMO.

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it was nice reading this. I was stationed jn gtmo for almost three years and I can say I miss it. there is not a place like it that brings people from all around the world together. as for jtf people will think it is inhumane because of things I heard that happened there decades ago. but I am glad you got to go experience some of the island for your self. the water is beautiful on the outskirts, there is iguanas amd banana rats every where. the night life is def something different. thank you for goung with an open mind and taking gtmo in for all it is.

The banana rats were everywhere as well!

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What do you mean by “the night life is interesting”? I will be moving there for two years as a construction project manger, but they are giving me a choice of whether or not I want to go.

Hey I lived in gtmo for 6 1/2 years and I’ve gotta say your description was damn near spot on I’m glad you enjoyed my home

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It is true, My son was military police there when Iraq war broke out. It’s all true including the christening for all new guards to get an excrement bath! When he first arrived they all slept in a warehouse til their housing was ready. The prisoners had better accommadations and still do……..

That’s too bad but at least it was an accurate description I received!

Thanks Dominic, I appreciate that!

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I’ve lived down here for the past 2 years and have a year left here. A lot of people have the worst opinion of this place, I personally love it here. I work at the hospital so I don’t really come into contact with the detainees. Thanks for truly informing people of what our little community is really like!

Thank you Sheila!

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As a current resident of GTMO I can say that this is one of the most straight forward blogs I have seen about our daily life down here and the JTF side. For those questioning the treatment of the detainees, let me tell you they live better then a great portion of the US. Also the International Red Cross has been coming here at least 5 times a yr to ensure the fair and humane treatment of the detainees by their own interperators and medical staff. As for having to follow the Geneva convention they do, and until another country decides to talk on the responsibility of housing these criminals if is up to the men and women here to do the best job that they can in the circumstances. When the detention center opened there were over a 1000 detainees, now there are around 150 and believe me none are being held with out reason. It is very easy to judge this pla e unfairly especially with the severely biased new reports that Americans often take for their word.Thank you for your great article, we truely love it here and are very sad to be leaving soon.

Thanks so much Michael for a great comment with good info!

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Great story Lee, you certainly have honored the GTMO community with your words. I spent almost 24 years living on the island off and on both as a kid and as an adult. People always ask me if I think the prison should be closed. I always tell them I can’t give them an answer because I am biased. People in the US have the “Not In My Back Yard” mentality when it comes to whether or not the detainees should be housed on US Soil. For myself (and many of the people who posted on here, I see some names I know ), the prison IS in our backyard. We never give it a second thought due to the amazing job the JTF does. I doubt it would be any different should they moved elsewhere. I’m sure you saw all the restrictions that are placed on people due to the prison, imagine how relaxed life on the base would be without them. I miss going to the beach after the clubs closed and waiting for the sunrise, hopefully people can do that there again someday.

Thanks Josh!

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Thank you for finally showing the true picture of Gitmo. My daughter has been on two tours of duty there and has said the same thing. We went last year and spent Christmas with them. I love the base and the all the people that try so hard and work there. They have had so much bad press from biased reporters that it is good to see someone tell the truth for a change! Our men and women in the service there work hard and should be thanked by all of us. People say that the prisoners are being mistreated…well, what did they do to our people in Bengazzi…they sure did not treat them the same. There was no special treatment when they killed our own men…no special anything…so thank you and God Bless You for helping people see and hear the truth about Gitmo… Merry Christmas..our soldier gets to come home on leave for Christmas!

Well said Patsy, thanks!

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What makes you think you’re qualified to speak about the closing of the detention facilities? Did you witness any actual abuse, or are you relying on very biased anecdotal evidence? Your piece would have beernmuch better if you had left your personal politics out of it.

Did you read the story? What personal politics are you referring to?

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Lee, your blog just made my day! I was able to visit GTMO last Christmas and your article is the best and most accurate account of that very important base that I have read. After getting all of the security clearances, my wife Jo and I paid our own way and flew on a commercial airline to spend 14 eye opening days with our son and his family. We also were free to roam the base and talk to anyone. Many of the civilian employees were former military that came back after serving there and retiring. All branches of the military have a presence there and the respect and cooperation between them is an amazing thing to see. It is in reality a modern small city providing its own infracture

Thanks Bob!! I appreciate it!

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my son has recently began his navy career and this is his first tour after a school. thank you for the positive report. He speaks of how blessed he is to be at this command. He has no interaction with the jtf side. we look forward to a trip of a life time to visit him next summer.

You will enjoy it down there!

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This was my husband’s duty station for nearly three years and a place I called home. Two of my children were born on the “island.” We found it to be a 1950’s Mayberry and living in a fishbowl all at the same time. We wouldn’t trade our time there for anything. Thank you for portraying GTMO as I and many military, spouses and families have experienced it.

Thanks Kristen, I am glad to hear you feel that way!

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No Jerk Joint? What I miss most about GTMO is the jerked chicken from the Jerk Joint across from the Tiki Bar. The locals must have been hiding the fun stuff from the travel writer.

Hey Dave, I saw the jerk joint but didn’t make it there! I was told it was good but I only ate dinner out twice because the rest of the dinners were at peoples houses.

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Thank you! A lot of people don’t realize what GTMO is really like. I spent almost 4 years there with my family. One of my children was born in GTMO. Some of my best memories were made there, and I still miss it to this day. Thanks again!

Jamie, thank you for sharing.

Sorry my previous comment got cut off. First let me correct “infrastructure ” . All water is from a desalinization plant and all electric power is generated on base. Supplies are brought from Jacksonville ,FL by barge once a week. The weather and the people that serve their country are amazing. We were able to observe the old prison, that a federal court will not let them remove, even though it has been empty for many years. And compare the new modern area where the remaining detainees are housed. It is a far cry from what is shown by the media. The 60 minute report came as close as I have seen to showing part of the detainee area, but only the maximum security part. It didn’t show the recreation areas, movie theater, snack bar or the other housing that non-violent detainees are allowed to live in. Much better living conditions than many of our homeless law abiding citizens have in the US. Hopefully, the issue can be resolved soon and GTMO can continue to serve the southern Caribbean as a major refueling and resupply port as it has for centuries. Love to go back soon!

Thanks again Bob!

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I’m curious if you met Tim Baugh. He is a civilian working for he Navy and runs the marina. He and his family are long time friends of ours and enjoys his job there. He just signed up for not her two years. He talks highly of GTMO, too.

Sorry…spell check…..I meant…. he has signed up for another two years.

The name sounds familiar but I am not sure, Marcy

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Thanks Lee for sharing this. I am not American and not Cuban either….I am one of the Filipino’s working in the base and I would say GTMO is my second home. Been working in the base for almost 8 years. Many people is asking me why i keep coming back to GTMO after my 2 months vacation in every 2 years. I keep telling them that GTMO is the safest place in the world. Love the community we had.

Thank you so much again for sharing this

Thanks Wilson and it certainly is the safest place I would imagine!

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Thank you Lee for such an awesomeblog about a place that I was able to call home from 2006-2009. Everything you said was right on and I only wish that you could have stayed there longer. I was also wondering if by chance you happened to see the GTMO Mystery Machine. When I lived there, my family bought an old navy brig van that we used for diving and we painted it like the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo. Other than that, great blog and I hope that one day you can go back!

Dylan, someone else mentioned that to me while I was in GTMO but I didn’t actually see it or at least I didn’t know if I did…is it still there?

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The Mystery Machine has been parked across the street from the Autoport for the last few months – not quite sure what it’s status is??

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*correction, 3 subways…1 at marine hill, 1 at the main NEX, 1 at airport 😉 lol this was a good read!

Thank you for correcting me and thanks for the compliment!

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I enjoyed reading about your time there; it brought back memories. With that being said, your last paragraph hit the nail right on the head, it seems appalling, is expensive to run and is 100% necessary. There is much you do not know and even more you will never know. Good luck in your travels, and thank you for your unbiased observations. It takes a great deal to go to a place such as GTMO and be open-minded about what you see and what you hear. Should you go back, avoid GTMO river on Thursdays. The chicken factory upstream dumps chicken bits and it attacks sharks. I found this out the hard way. Cheers!

Thank you and thanks for the comment!

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This is the best unbiased report of GTMO I have ever read. thank you for sharing. I was stationed here for 18 months and I can honestly say it was my favorite duty station. The people and atmosphere on the main base are the friendliest people. You hit the nail on head as far as the detainees go. These people are there for a reason. They are not innocent people . When I hear activists crying they are being treated inhumanly it makes nevertheless angry. These people were terriorists. No other country wants them for this reason. Thank you again.. for the great article

Thanks Gina, I really appreciate it!

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Your article captured the spirit of GTMO. I was fortunate to have lived there for 2 years and let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience. I had no connection with the detainees so I can say that it was the most relaxing and calm tour I have ever had with the 20+ years I have been with the military. The most interesting fact for me was waking up every day to the complete silence, well aside from the birds chirping and hummingbirds flying around our shrubs. I enjoyed going to the beach and collecting the never ending seaglass. No matter how much everyone collected the beaches were completely covered the next morning. I will cherish my GTMO time forever. Thanks for sharing your experience with the world.

Thanks Melanie and I saw firsthand how people in GTMO love the sea glass and other items from the sea….it was fascinating as an outsider to see.

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Worked at GTMO for 18 mths as a govt contractor. Really enjoyed my time as the unit I supported was very tight knit mix of contractors, military, and govt civilians. The article paints a true picture of how I saw things too. Even though I worked on the JTF side, I never saw the detainees. Think about it — do you ever see prisoners when driving past a federal prison in the States? Didn’t think so. The story about the shit throwing is true. My housemate had that happen twice.

You either engage in life at GTMO or isolate yourself until hour tour is over. There is so much to do during off time — fishing, swimming, boating, diving, snorkeling, gym, softball, soccer, flag football, volleyball, floor hockey, hiking, biking, golf, etc. Met great friends from all walks of life that gave me memories I look back upon fondly. Did we party — absolutely. But with most of us deployed away from home/family on a tropical island, doing work of the nature that the mission at GTMO is, the social aspect was a great stress relief.

Regarding the detention center, I see valid points on both sides. I don’t see a way where the current status quo is going to change. So long as that is the case, I don’t have a problem with the detention center and the legal proceedings being held there.

Thanks Greg! You are exactly correct about the prisoners and sorry your housemate had to experience that.

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Kinda surprised you didn’t mention the international office of migration (IOM) or the USCG base here and presence, patrolling the Caribbean keeping the drugs of United States shores. Great article and kids are still talking about you.

John, thanks and I did obviously hear about that but the article was already 2200 words so needed to keep it down where I could! The kids were great and wish them all the best!

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For someone who worked on GITMO for five years of my family 150 years of loyal service at this enclave during WW II, the Korean conflict and Viet Nam, it is repulsive, shameful and offensive to read, this blatant attempt to white-wash, dilute and re-write the 110 years of illegal occupation of 45 square miles of Cuban soil against the will of its people.

During Mr. Abbamonte “5 Days expert Cubanologists Tour”, he intentionally failed to include in his extensive and childish article, how the United States Department of Defense expects Cuba to accept $4500.00 a year for these lands and pristine bay. Mr. Abbamonte may have not known or withheld some of GITMO lesser known history, which are as murky and despicable as his sanitized portrayal of hundreds of men in prison for over a decade, who have not been accused, indicted or brought to trial.

For a realistic history on GITMO, please refer to: Guantanamo, An American History, Jonathan M. Hansen, 2011 Guantanamo The Bay of Discord, Roger Ricardo, 1994

In these books and tens of others, you may learn among other things:

a) Lino Rodriguez, a construction worker on GITMO was murdered by his foreman, thrown into the sea and found by Cuban fishermen on December 7, 1940

b) In September 1954, Victor Salomon, a Cuban employee, was accused of embezzling money. Fifteen days later, his tortured body was delivered to Caimanera, which enraged this community of 8000 inhabitants.

c) Because of GITMO, Caimanera and Guantanamo were turned into the largest Red Light District in Cuba, with hundreds of prostitutes, pimps, sexually transmitted diseases, drug dealers, kick-back, blackmail, rape, violence and deaths.

d) Manuel Prieto Gonzalez, another Cuban Naval Base employee, was arrested in January 1961, accused of being a Cuban government sympathizer, tortured and forced to swallow poison pills. On March 13, 1961, a pirate boat coming from GITMO, open fire with 57-mm cannon on Santiago de Cuba refinery, killing Cuban sailor Rene Rodriguez and seriously damaging the plant.

e) On September 30th 1961, Ruben Lopez Sabariego, another Cuban civil service employee on GITMO, was arrested by the Base Military Intelligence Service. Eighteen days later, US officials notified his wife, that his body had been found in a ditch. Lt. William A. Szili of the US Navy one of the accessory to the crime told a Philadelphia Bulletin reporter, that Capt. Arthur J. Jackson had finished off the Cuban worker with some shots.

f) Rodolfo Rosell, a fisherman from Caimanera was kidnappted, tortured and savagely murdered on GITMO in 1962.

g) US Marines shooting across the border fence, shot and killed in his foxhole, Cuban border guard Ramon Lopez Pena in 1964, Luis Ramirez Lopez in 1966 and wounded Luis Ramirez Reyes, Antonio Campos and Andres Noel Larduet in 1966. Cuba was forced to move its border guards, hundreds of feet away from the fence for safety reasons.

h) In addition to becomin the most important beachhead the CIA had in Cuba, from GITMO, tens of Cubans who were trained in Guatemala, Honduras and Miami, were armed with Russian weapons, dressed in Cuban military fatigue, gathered outside GITMO at Arroyo Blanco, with instructions to unleash an a self-attack on GITMO, to provide the United States government with a similar excuse for intervention in Cuba, as they did after the Maine in 1898, 1906, 1912 and 1917.

Thanks Alberto for your comment and opinion but I certainly did not omit anything intentionally and I certainly did not claim to be a Cubanologist-whatever that means.

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Mr, Jones, The events you reference occurred between 1898-1964. The newest thing you bring up was 50 years ago. Lee is talking about his recent trip to Guantanamo Bay. It is not a historical piece. I lived on the base for 3 years myself, about 20 years ago, and my experience mirrors Lee’s. Also, you may feel $4,500 in annual rent is too little but the Cuban government doesn’t, proven by the fact that they never even cash the US checks.

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Hey, I was one of the kids that you spoke to at the school. I’d just like to say thank you. and that you did an excellent job. This really does describe the place spot on, i’ll be forwarding this article to my stateside friends to read.

Thanks Gray!!!

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Gray, I would love your insight on life there as a child/ teen? My husband has been there a year, we have visited him, now myself and our children are moving there very soon. My 14 (soon to be 15) year old son is very apprehensive. Ps to the author, very good artical.

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I enjoyed this article! It was very truthful. I did three tours on the JTF side (Detainee Operations) and really enjoyed it. The work was challenging and the good memories will last forever. Made some wonderful friendships there! It really was a great experience.

Thanks Mandy!

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What memories you write up has brought back!

I lived there from 1947 – 1949 & again 1953 – 1955… when I graduated from what was then called simply the U. S. Naval Base High School. This was before it got its present name.

In those days the Fleet Training Group was stationed there and the bay was constantly full of every type of ship undergoing training… battleships, cruisers, etc. & etc. For us kids it was a fabulous time of our lives. My mother loved it there. When she passed away my dad arranged to fly to the base and spread her ashes out over the bay. Castro was in power by then but tough Rear Admiral John Bulkelew, the base commander (in those days it was a full base consisting of the naval air station, the naval station, marine barracks, fleet training group, etc.) kept things smooth and under control. It was he that severed the water line from the Yateres River and had the desalinization plant built (right beside the air station movie theater on the seaplane landing),

All of this long before any hint of a detention facility. Thanks for your write up… Hurrah for GTMO!

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This is obviously why “GTMO” wasn’t closed.

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I was there with the JTF from 2002 until 2008. My family was with me. I think you got it right. In fact you nailed it. I wish you had been able to see the inside of the detention camps and observe the professionalism of our troops. They are first rate pros. I also wished you had been able to eat at the Jerk House and enjoy a red stripe there! You have evoked fond memories! Thanks.

ps….my boys have become very loyal to Belen HS here in Miami but attended Sampson elementary and still think of themselves as Sampson Sharks! They loyally keep in touch with friends from GTMO.

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This is a great article. I left just before you came to the island and I can recognize a lot of my friends in your pictures of the high school! I just moved from GTMO this summer and I miss it a great deal.

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Lee It was my pleasure to meet you at the LA TCC luncheon. I greatly enjoyed reading your blog on GTMO. Those of us that travel the world write about what we experience, we see, and the people we meet. Politics aside you described your experience, what you saw and the impression it made on you. I applaud that. I attempt to do the same in my blogs. World travel has certainly changed my outlook on life and the world. It is a shame that your critics have not been to all the places you have visited and experienced what you have experienced in your travels. Good luck on your next trip.

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thank you for sending as up date of gitmo, as we miss it dearly. hay they have a subway sandwich place , now all they need is a doughnut shop

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Wow, i thought this was bland and written on an elementary school level. Can no one but myself see this article as the joke that it is? Where is there any description of personal thought or any kind of emotional narrative?…This is just a bare boned schedule of his itinerary..”i got off the plane..i got on a ferry….i got in a rental car..i drove around the base…What was he seeing and thinking and feeling is what i wanted to know?! I didn’t read at any point that this place got into his heart or his head. He mentions every cookie cutter restaurant on base, and then says…there are some others..but i didn’t try them…um..aren’t there Subways and Starbucks and McDonalds and Pizza Hut in the states? What makes those places so special and worth mentioning?…I personally think people who have never been to Gtmo would would rather hear about the galleys and the local cuisine than what is there to eat than the canned restaurants of everyday America.But what can you expect from a man who didn’t travel ANYWHERE til he reached adulthood??? Did he mention the beaches or the wildlife, taste the seafood, or eat it fresh off of his own fishing line? He did mention his rental car several time, was he paid to sponsor the base car rental company? I mean come on…he even took a picture of his rental car…are you kidding me? And as for transportation, isn’t there a bus? And nobody was offended by this statement? “Foreign nationals, mainly Jamaicans and Filipinos from what I saw and met, do the majority of the menial jobs around the island. ” How degrading to the Jamaicans and Filipinos who thrive there, and do not consider their jobs “menial”… ARIZONA?????Arizona isn’t anywhere near an ocean….and I have been to Arizona….again, where is the likeness? Sorry, I don’t see it except that both grow cactus..Arizona does not have trade winds…He went sailing…but it wasn’t the sailing that was the best part(he was probably bent over the side rail quite seasick for a good part of that time). Talking to kids about himself was the highlight of his trip to GTMO…hmm, why am I not surprised? Referring to the housing,…”and let me tell you, some of the people on GTMO live very well!” What does that mean and how is that a positive statement about GTMO? I can just hear it now to a liberal civilian without a clue thinking”and who’s tax dollars are being spent so some people can live well in GTMO?” I do not understand how this rudimentary article could at any rate even poetically describe GTMO outside of the detainee camp in the proper light. Generic, boring, i would never want to visit Gtmo after this article…everything that is good and wholesome about this island becomes processed and canned in this article..It is something like i said in the beginning of this article, a 3rd grader could have thought up and put to pen and paper…except, with more excitement and wonder! BTW, how did this anonymous blogger get an opportunity to masticate my island with his menial perceptions anyhow?

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My wife and I just returned from visiting our daughter at GTMO over Thanksgiving. She is a Public Affairs Officer there (probably you met her). I share your EXACT feelings about GTMO. It was the most unique trip we’ve taken and GTMO wasn’t what I expected either. Very nice people, unique surroundings, and some relaxing opportunities to boot (went snorkeling three times!). GTMO is grossly misrepresented by the media who want to sensationalize everything. We too saw JTF area and it’s just what it is: A detention facility. Nothing more. Nothing less. The base on the other hand, is just a base….with the exception that you go “off-base” like you can just about anywhere else. GTMO is NOT what it’s portrayed to be.

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Lee, I enjoyed hearing about your visit. I am glad you helped dispel myths. My family is Cuban so I am aware of the truths you helped clarify. But what I did not know was how life is at GTMO. I had never read any account of what it is to be there, live there, etc. Thanks for sharing.

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@Erika Riordan,

What a rude comment.

YOUR island? Pftttt.

This article was written to explain his vast experience here in a nutshell; not to provide us with a descriptive essay about “glistening waters”, “breathtaking sunsets”, and non essential extended detail that we don’t need to read.

Also, about the restaurants. Those ARE the only restaurants here. The others are also regularly seen in America with the exception of 1 or 2.

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“According to multiple people I spoke with, nowadays the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are treated better than most soldiers on island.” The government has long held that prisoners were being treated well, when human rights organizations were proving otherwise. The current “assurances” aren’t reassuring at all, considering the history of this place and the people running it.

“Especially as some detainees are some of the world’s worst people.” That is a strong statement, considering these people are being held without charges. Calling them “the world’s worst people” is hardly accurate if the government can’t summon up enough evidence to charge them with crimes. Not to mention hundreds of these prisoners have been released due to this very reason, after being wrongly imprisoned. The world’s worst people are those who arrest others without cause, refuse to charge them with crimes, deny them their rights to a trial, and ship them abroad to be tortured.

“If they were to be held in federal prison, they would never receive the same treatment. Some detainees that have been transferred have begged to go back to GTMO.” If they were held in federal prison, they would have received the right to a fair trial and they would have already been sentenced for a crime. This isn’t the case with GITMO. I also doubt all those suicide attempts and continuous hunger strikes occurred because nobody wanted to leave the place.

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Thank you for your article, did you have a chance to go off base? i so are the people friendly towards Americans?

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A good read but frighteningly unbalanced. A bit like Fox News. These people have been held without a right to trial. If they have behaved badly I’m not surprised. Wouldn’t you if you were held without having a fair trial? It’s heartening I live in Britain, by no means perfect. But the people here would not stand for that. It’s a shame a lot of Americans don’t have a balanced view and just lap up what the government/army says. I still live in hope though…

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I served in GTMO Naval suppy depot 1966 to 1968. I enjoyed my youth there and I am looking for my friend and basketball coach Doc. Ridley a Navy Dentist on the base.

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Hello. I can read comments from different persons and they own experience in Guantanamo Bay. But what about a view from one cuban emigrant who was living there for almost 7 months? Well that is me. And because my english is really bad I can’t express really how I feeling about this military base. But something is sure. GUANTANAMO BAY IS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE IN THE WORLD. And Lee your description is very good and I agree with everything that you said. But is difficult and impossible write all the amazing to be there in just an article. And for that ones who think the prisoners there are abused. I told you something. I was one for almost two months before the USA give me the protection. And you can be sure anyone in Cuba and in many others country want to be there even as a prisoners better than in they own house. Guantanamo for me are the bigger and grateful remembers of my life. Is a place full of wonderful peoples, it is the only piece of land in my Cuba where you can breathe freedom. My son, my husband and I we are proud for can be there, and we all have good remembers from ours fishing, pool time, baseball games and the great school and teachers where my son studied for 6 months and instead of removing the base. Should be extend into the rest of the Island. The bigger dream of my family and I is get the citizen in the country where we are living now (two years and a half since we leave Guantanamo) to apply and try to get a job there. Will be amazing can be in the Base again. This time to work, get a good life in my own country and remember amazing times spender there before. Thanks Lee for this grate write of my beautiful Guantanamo Bay. And sorry for my english.

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My dad was in the Navy and served as XO of Fleet Training Group. We lived there from 1970 – 1973. As a young kid, it was a pretty cool place to live though we did feel like we were missing out on somethings going on back stateside. I have longed to return to Gitmo and have hopes that one day I will be able to go. I would love to take my wife and kids and show them where I lived. Looking at Gitmo on Google Earth, I was able to recognize and remember an awful lot. I brought up some really good memories. Thanks for the article.

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Thank you so much for writing this!! My son…who is in the army reserves and just graduated from basic training last week has already received orders to go here. I really appreciated your informative article!

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Thanks for this article…my son is a part of a reserve unit headed there as well. Good article to give him a sense of what to expect and good for a nervous mom too!

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Nice to see and hear about the changes to the “old neighborhood” I loved that place when i was stationed there before transferring to a Destroyer on the gun-line off the coast of South East Asia.

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Lee, I spent five of the best years of my life there. I wish I could go back. I caught lots of fish, met lots of really nice people and learned a lot about different cultures (Jamaican a Filipino). Good on you for telling your story.

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As a civilian on the post, are you allowed to travel to any other parts of the island?

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Lee, A fine article. I was there for 3 weeks in May and June of 1964. We were on flight crews and stayed at the Naval Air Station. It was Hot. I had the coldest water in the shower, hitting under my arm and it still was sweating, the ocean was real tepid. Also, little A-4 jets did an exercise north of the Air base. Flying over us and dropping probably very small or fake bombs. I would like to visit now, and see the rest of the beauty of this place I don’t remember. Thanks to your article I have been able to do that here.

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I enjoyed reading this. I have always been curious about GTMO and wanted to visit, but never got the chance. However, I did visit Cuba in 2013 and saw Havana and some of the western part of the island including Pinar del Rio. It will be interesting to see if base personnel will now be allowed some limited contact with Cuba now that we have an embassy in Havana as of a couple days ago. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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I miss GTMO I lived here for 3 years. I would jump at the chance to go back!

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Hi Sonja. I got orders to deploy to GTMO for a year in “the very near future”. I am 68W/E4. I was wondering if you can tell me what I should expect from GTMO. Living conditions (based on my rank), daily life, what to watch out for, internet, communication (if any), etc etc. Thank you.

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Nice blog! I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay with the US Army’s B Company, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion in the early 1990’s, when Haitian migrants were brought to camps on the Windward side (McCalla Field). It was an enjoyable experience! They had an outdoor theater, beer was cheap, the Cuban Club and Jamaican Club were fun, we got cited for snorkeling with out a dive flag, great secluded beaches, incredible sunsets, I scraped my knee on brain coral – itched for three months ;(, iguanas and banana rats were everywhere. One of my favorite deployments.

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Does anyone have an advice on how to get a sponsor in order to visit GTMO? I am a retired U.S Army with an ID card. Any suggestion would be highly appreciated.

To my knowledge the only way is to be invited for something or someone who lives there. That’s how I got invited-by the Navy.

Thanks for the info. It looks like I won’t be able to enjoy that part of the Island.

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Hello Sir, I’m Thamer from Saudi Arabia, I’m traveling to Cuba this December, I want to know is it allowed for Saudis to visit GTMO, but not the detention centre “Prison”. I’ve read that, “Hotel Islazul” in Guantánamo City may be able to arrange tours to GTMO for around $40. Is it right? I’ve a valid US-visa , I’ve visited US twice. Thanks.

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I appreciate the info that you shared with your trip blog. I was trying to find the size of the GTMO area. I was thinking some refugees could be maintained there, instead of in the States. Including temporary tent communities, do you think 10,000 refugees could be supported between the 2 facilities?

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Dear Lee: Great article. My name is Alejandro Rodriguez ( [email protected] ) I´m Spanish who born in Cuba and I´m trying to open a construction business in GITMO but I don´t have any information to do it (to work inside and outside the base). I have an small construction enterprise in Castellon de la Plana, near Valencia and certainly I want to be close to Cuba (not inside for 10 years minimum) to help its reconstruction. The base looks as a good place to live and work for a while. I have two questions. 1.- You were trying to prepare a group to visit the site. ¿Did you were successful on it? 1.- ¿Do you know how I can contact Cuban residents inside GITMO? (Ex: Cuban Community Center?,.., I can´t find the website address) Best regards Alejandro (34) 964724648

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A handful of former GTMO detainees are now living comfortably in Uruguay. The pothead ex-president Jose \”Pepe\” Mujica received them.

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Send them to N.korean,F… em.

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How I love to read your article. I have been to beautiful destinations with my anti jet lag buddy, jetLAGFX . I find Cuba an interesting place to visit with.

Post#45-Dec-24, 1971 great view,if you were there you know what I mean. 18 yrs old then, 63 now, do ya remember,4 of us went to Jamaica,now you remember,Red you had the the big bags walked right on board nice move, So if any of you Jarheads still around I live in Boston.E-Mail

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Every interesting .wondered what it was like now. I was there for about 30 days in February, March 1971 .tad from the uss lexington as a duty driver.

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Enjoyed my time on the rock and at NAS GTMO from 1976-1977. Great scuba diving and fishing. Also, figured out how to play the golf course, too. During my time we had no rental cars, McD’s or Subway. We had the Jamaican restaurants and NEX. People drove hand me down Gitmo specials…1957 Rambler. Good times…one of my favorite bases.

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Hello Lee. Nice article.

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I enjoyed your article, and seeing many of the pictures brought back some memories of when I was stationed at GITMO from 8/73 to 8/74. I was a Marine stationed with Company L, Marine Support Battalion/Naval Security Group, and I worked at the intelligence intercept facility located on John Paul Jones Hill. GITMO was much different place in those days, but I have to say that I enjoyed my tour of duty there. The base sporting programs and swimming and scuba diving were out of this world. I’ll never forget GITMO!

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I will be in Cuba from June 18-26th and will be visiting the Guantanamo Cuban side, is there any chance to visit the US base? Do I need amy permission? What is the regular prodedure? We are 2 Mexicans with US visas. Please advise

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I was stationed there on a floating dry dock (afdl-47) in 1957-58. Loved it and the duty and food was great. Great memories!

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I noticed a few posts below yours is a gentleman Jim Demo. He is looking for shipmates in the same time frame.

How silly of m ne, Lee. I was so excited that I might possibly be able to link these \\\\\\\”2\\\\\\\” guys that I paid no attention that they were the same name. Please delete both messages

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Hey do the soldiers share rooms with the females? And are they aloud to have sexual activities with each other?

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Hello and thanks for the article. My mother is from GTMO and I have family there. I’m thinking about going with my cousin in Dec when she visits her father. My mother never taught me Spanish so I’ll be lost without my cousin. If for any reason I’m separated from my Cuban cousin…Can I go to the base for assistance? My father retire Navy in the mid-70’s. Thanks

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All things being said, gito in the early 60,s. Was a drunken party…when ships pulled in, they had gutted trailers(cattle cars) that carried the ship sailors to the bunch of bars their..mixed drinks were 10 cents, at happy hour, they were a 5 could get blower away for a dollar…sex was available at the motor pool where the Cubans worked, for another dollar…it was a good liberty port..

I was stationed aboard the AFDL-47 back in 1957/58 and often wonder as what happened to all my shipmates.

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Was stationed at GTMO Dec. 75 to Dec 76. Was attached to VC-10. We had 8 or 9 TA-4F’s or J’s and 2 S-2’s. We flew out of NAS Gilmore and trained surface ships as simulated hostile aggressor aircraft. The airfield was surprisingly new those days. Having moved from the “short field” on the main side. Like how you compared the weather to Arizona. I was to learn 4 years later it was a lot like Yuma. Border fence and all. Would I go back? Sure if you paid me.???? Retired in Jax FL. Many of my GTMO shipmates a short drive away.

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So Americans could not visit Cuba but there was an american base there?

For like 100 years

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Good account, spent 6 months there my self with JTF agree with need to keep detained there for the safety of all people of the world.

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I\’m heading to Cuba in April and want to really challenge myself and explore the unconventional areas for a typical tourist. I\’m an adventuress, a traveler, so GTMO sounds fascinating to me. I understand it was incredibly difficult to enter in the first place, which makes me sad, do you know of any other ways or sponsors that could help with having a wander?

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Just came across your article…my daughter was born there in 1993, she had to be flown to Miami Children\’s Hospital, as she was a preemie and they had no medical care for preemies there…the corpsmen at the hospital actually made a ventilator for her until a medivac flight could come get her! GTMO looks so much different now than when we lived there, Granadillo Court I think was the street name, it was the last neighborhood before the minefield started…definitely made me appreciate the freedoms we have in the US! Hearing those mines go off was a noise I will never forget…thanks to your article, I can now show her where she was born!!

Thanks that’s nice to hear!

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I was born in gtmo bay . Lived the first 6 years of my life there . I always think it’s funny that when people ask where was your first plane ride to . I grin and say America . I’ve always had interest to visit as an adult . My brother was there for 2 years as a civilian contractor . I really injoyed the artical . Thanks and happy travels .

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I was in Guantanamo in 2006. I went with a circus to perform. In 2013 i made a documentary about the experience titled “Guantanamo Circus”. It is now available on Amazon Prime. If you want to see Gitmo through the eyes of a clown.

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Lee, thanks for sharing all this info! I just accepted a job in VA and will be traveling down there on a monthly basis. After reading about experience, I’m looking forward to my trips!

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Wow man. This was really cool to read. I lived there a few years after this article was written. It was really cool to see another persons perspective. It must have been great to visit. The island is so small that everyone knows everyone else. It’s a very tight knit family. I miss it. However, it was kinda ridiculous because it’s so small and cramped. I miss it though. It’s very different from where I am now I’m Alaska haha. Thank you for writing this article. I really miss this place. It’s a little porta back in time from a place that I will never get to return to.

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There are many hidden places around the world that are cheap and beautiful.

Thank you for this post and your tips, I’m planning for Cuba next year, is it really safe?

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Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details.

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Explainer: the long, complicated history of the US at Guantánamo Bay

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Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, University of Kent

Disclosure statement

William Rowlandson works for university of Kent. He receives funding from University of Kent.

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President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba has been heralded as a “ new beginning ” for Washington and Havana. The American embassy in the Cuban capital has been reopened, and travel restrictions for US citizens are being relaxed . But despite their so-called “thaw”, the US’s relationship with Cuba is still deeply tangled. It has been since the 19th century – and central to the two countries’ ugly history is Guantánamo Bay.

La Bahía de Guantánamo is a saltwater lagoon 40 miles to the east of Santiago de Cuba. Before 1492, Puerto Grande, as Columbus named the bay, was productive hunting and fishing ground for the indigenous Taínos and their predecessors. Since there are no defensive bluffs at the harbour entrance, the Europeans did little to develop the lagoon beyond building villages and the nearby town of Guantánamo.

Things began to change as Cubans fought for independence from Spain in the wars of 1868-1878 and 1895-1898. The US was never going to stay on the sidelines; while a proposal to annex Cuba was rejected in Congress, US senators followed events in Cuba very closely and provided material support to the rebels.

In February 1898, the USS Maine, deployed to quell a pro-Spanish conspiracy, exploded in Havana harbour, killing nearly 300 men. Blaming Spain for the explosion, the US entered the war to assist the Cubans in their struggle for independence. Guantánamo Bay was captured in June 1898, a naval base was established, and the US fleet found hurricane shelter in the bay before invading Santiago that July.

The Spanish were defeated by the combined US and Cuban forces, and the new republic’s constitution was drawn up to hand over control from the US military governorship. This control was only partial: an amendment drawn up by Senator Orville Platt was inserted into the constitution, stipulating not only tight trade and economic regulations and the US’s right to intervene in Cuban affairs, but also the leasing of four coaling and naval stations – including Guantánamo Bay.

The Platt Amendment details complete jurisdiction of the US in those locations while recognising Cuba’s “ultimate sovereignty”, and stipulates the right to use the areas only as naval stations and for no other purpose. The lease is also predicated upon the continuing agreement of both parties.

These three stipulations have caused trouble ever since. Many Cubans, especially marginalised non-whites, were bitter that Spain had simply been replaced by a new imperial force, albeit managed through the “sovereign” Cuban republic. This led to an uprising across the island in 1912, put down brutally by police, military and local militias who feared a black revolution – “another Haiti”.

The US stationed more than 1500 marines in Guantánamo and Santiago to help quell the uprising and to protect US interests. The military presence remained in Guantánamo long afterwards, outlasting various Cuban leaderships.

In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt cancelled both the 1903 Treaty of Relations and the Platt Amendment under the so-called “ Good Neighbour Policy ”, and a new agreement was signed in 1934 outlining the continuation of the original Guantánamo Bay lease. Expanded during World War II, the site became a strategic refuelling and distribution depot for military and merchant shipping during the war, and a training site for anti-submarine activities.

Crocodiles and cactus

Things changed radically with the revolution of the 1950s. The US’s lease cheques are still made out to the “Treasurer General of the Republic”, a position that ceased to exist in 1959. They have supposedly been piling up uncashed in a desk drawer; Fidel Castro has said he once cashed one for $4,085 by mistake in the confusion of his government’s early days.

After Castro took control, the White House made clear that no changes in diplomatic relations would affect the Guantánamo treaty. Free access for workers ended in 1958, and heightened security was installed on both sides of the perimeter. Castro increased the natural defence of crocodiles and cactus to create the “Cactus Curtain”, while US troops laid 75,000 land mines between the US and Cuban border. The Missile Crisis of October 1962 saw an influx of US marines to the base. Castro turned off its water supply, prompting the base’s commanders to import water from Jamaica until a desalination plant could be constructed.

In the early 1960s, the base was key for various covert operations to topple Castro’s regime: Northwoods, Mongoose, Bingo, Dirty Trick, and more besides. One of the Northwoods proposals was to blow up a US ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame it on Cuba, reminiscent of what happened to the USS Maine in 1898.

The base remained a focus of Cold War tension until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In that same year, Camp Bulkeley, named after the “Gitmo” base commander of 1964, was hastily enlarged with hundreds of tents to house Haitians fleeing their country after a coup-d’état overthrew democratically-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Those Haitians picked up in international waters by the US Coast Guard were brought to Guantánamo and held for processing by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many were declared economic, not political, migrants, and were returned to Haiti. Others were screened for HIV, and those tested positive were denied entry into the US.

The US government was ultimately sued over the HIV camp, and the case became a cause célèbre, with law students going on hunger strike and actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins raising the issue at the 1993 Academy Awards. The camp was declared unconstitutional and closed .

This episode became something of a blueprint for events at Guantánamo post-2001.

Beyond the rule of law

Much ink has been spilled on what’s happened at Guantánamo since the inception of the War on Terror. The bay’s detention facilities, comprising specific units such as Camp Delta , Camp Iguana, Camp 7 and the now defunct Camp X-Ray , with orange-suited detainees kneeling behind wire fences, are today part of the popular imagination. Amnesty International called the facility “ the Gulag of our time ”.

Most importantly, various of the US’s practices at Guantánamo violated articles of the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture , to both of which it is signatory. Many of these violations have been justified on the basis of Guantánamo’s extraterritorial status, which has allowed the US to carefully develop it as an anomalous site beyond the rule of law.

President Obama signed an executive order closing the facility at Guantánamo on his first day in office in 2009, but to no avail; the camp remains open. He is still keen to close Guantánamo before his presidency ends. Many in Congress oppose him. Presidential contenders have been asked their views. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support Obama, agreeing that the site is a recruiting tool for fighters against the US around the world.

On the other side, Cuban-American Ted Cruz advocates not just keeping the camp open, but growing it . Donald Trump also wants it bigger . This mirrors Obama’s first presidential campaign: he promised to close it, whereas the Republicans to his right wanted it expanded.

Raúl Castro has repeatedly called for a return of the whole of the US possession to Cuba, citing Cuba’s “ultimate sovereignty”, and the question will loom during Obama’s visit. But the US is deeply embedded in Guantánamo, and will not surrender it willingly. Whoever wins the presidency in November is doomed to inherit an ancient problem. Good luck to them.

  • Guantanamo Bay
  • CIA torture
  • US-Cuba relations

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Current Weather


Naval Station Guantanamo Bay

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  • Recreational
  • Living in GTMO
  • Things to See & Do
  • Exploring GTMO
  • Under the Water
  • On the Water
  • Around GTMO
  • Looking Back
  • Welcome Aboard
  • Regulations
  • Bus Schedule
  • Ferry Schedule
  • Social Media


Traveling to and from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay requires official authorization. The only flights on and off the island are provided by the Air Mobility Command (AMC) through NAS JAX, NAS Norfolk, and Kingston Jamaica.

Passengers flying to GTMO need a passport, an LOA or official orders, and a SECNAV 5512.

In GTMO, passengers with reservations can check in early (including baggage) the day before the flight. Passengers departing GTMO require a passport and an LOA/orders.

Space A Travel

Steps to fly Space A:

Step 1: Sign Up - You can sign up for Space A up to 60 days prior to the flight.

Step 2: Check In - Arrive at the terminal. In GTMO, passengers are required to take the 0730 ferry from Windward to Leeward. Passengers should confirm check-in times at JAX and Norfolk.

Step 3: Seat Selection - Depending on seat availability and the weight allowed by the flight crew, the terminal staff will determine how many Space A travelers can be accommodated. Priority is by category and then by date of sign up for each category.

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Space A Categories:

Category 1 - Emergency Leave for extreme humanitarian reason; requires an American Red Cross notification, unit Commander's memo, doctor letter, or other evidence. Cat 1 is one direction to reach emergency destination.

Category 2 - Unfunded EML Sponsor traveling alone or with dependents who have unfunded EML paperwork, Leave Chit, Residency Letter, or Command Sponsorship letter. GTMO teachers on holiday during the school year are Cat 2.

Category 3 - Active Duty on leave and accompanied dependents, and House Hunting Permissive TDY. Dependents whose sponsor is deployed 365 consecutive days or more will need to provide Dependent of Deployed letter from their sponsor's command.

Category 4 - Unaccompanied Dependents on EML or dependents whose sponsor is deployed between 30 to 364 consecutive days must provide a Dependent of Deployed letter from their sponsor's command. GTMO teachers during summer travel are also Cat 4.

Category 5 - Command Sponsorship letter, NON Command Sponsorship letter, not authorized to travel CONUS to CONUS. No cost, TAD orders with correct paperwork.

Category 6 - Retired Military with blue ID card and their accompanied dependents; Retired Reservist (red ID card) ONLY in CONUS; Veterans with a permanent service-connected disability rated as total must have a DD 2765. Travel in CONUS only and not extended to dependent family members.

Category 6.5 - GTMO Only - Visitors or Residents with Space A letter and SECNAV 5512 or Residency letter. Sign up priority is determined by the date of the Space A letter.

The cost to fly to/from GTMO via Air Mobility Command:

NAS JAX: $378

JAX INTL: $337

Norfolk: $542

Charleston AFB: $435

Kingston: $98

JB Andrews: $526

Space A from GTMO to US: $38.58

Space A from US to GTMO: $21.10

Excess baggage: $125

Pet charge: $125

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Naval Air Station Jacksonville has weekly flights to/from GTMO.

Space-A flight information can be found by calling (904) 542-3825 or visiting: NAS Jacksonville Passenger Terminal

Places to stay around NAS JAX:

Best Western - Collins Rd

Hilton Garden Inn - Orange Park

Places to dine around NAS JAX:

JL Trent's Seafood & Grill

Grumpy's Restaurant

Whitey's Fish Camp

[ Taxis authorized on NAS JAX... ]

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay AMC Terminal

English (en)

Guantánamo, the easternmost province of Cuba, just over 900 km from the capital, is the only place on the island where there are areas of semi-desert landscapes. In territory of this city is the town of Baracoa was the first village founded by the Spanish in Cuba (1512), which is the main tourist destination in the region.

Upon arrival, visitors can see a system of colonial forts that were built in an effort to defend the town from the piracy.Strong like Matachín, La Punta and Seboruco, the Joa and Caguase own Castle or Villa (now converted into a comfortable hotel), reveal the secrets of their time.

You can also enjoy a ride on cayuca (typical boat of the region) by Duaba, Honey, Toa Yumurí or rivers. Lovers of nature will appreciate the beauty of the mountain massif of Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, where the largest rivers flowing in the country and admire the terraces Machine or Monitongos of Hatibonico. Currently the United States illegally maintains a naval base in Cuba against the will of its people.

This facility is located in Guantanamo Bay, one of the largest on the island. From the first Cuban Constitution in the early twentieth century, this law was imposed Platt Amendment, under the threat that the island remain militarily occupied established the obligation to cede portions of their territory for military installations powerful neighbor.

What to do in Guantanamo? 

Hotels in Guantanamo

Claim of indictments for Bush, Biden, Obama and Clinton is both nonsense and old | Fact check

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The claim: George W. Bush 'agreed to be executed'; Biden, Obama and Clintons 'jailed at Gitmo'

An April 8 article by American Media Group claims a former U.S. president is facing capital punishment.

"Bombshell Report: Bush Jr. Said to Be Executed for 9/11, Obama, Clinton, Biden Jailed at GITMO," reads the article's headline.

The article begins, "Former President George Bush Jr. (sic) evidently has agreed to be executed for his part in 9/11 crimes according to intel coming out of GITMO Military Tribunals that began on Jan. 2."

It also claims Bush, former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and President Joe Biden were "handed indictments in envelops (sic) slipped into their programs at the (George H.W.) Bush funeral on Nov. 31" and are being held at Guantanamo Bay.

The article was shared on Facebook more than 80 times in a week, according to CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool.

More from the Fact-Check Team: How we pick and research claims | Email newsletter | Facebook page

Our rating: False

This claim is ridiculous on all fronts. There is no evidence Bush has been charged with any crime, much less that he faces execution. Bush, Biden, Obama and the Clintons have all made recent public appearances, contrary to the article's claim they're incarcerated at Gitmo, a nickname for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

No evidence Bush faces execution

No credible news reports support the claim that Bush has "agreed to be executed," nor is there any evidence he or the other high-profile political figures named in the article are detained at Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. military prison in Cuba that opened under Bush shortly after the 9/11 attacks .

Bush has appeared in public multiple times in recent months, contradicting the article's claim he is imprisoned. He was set to host a fundraiser April 16 in Dallas for Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick, The Hill reported. In March, Bush was photographed at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library , where he helped open an exhibit.

The other presidents named are also clearly not behind bars.

Similarly, Obama visited Chicago in March to view an exhibit that will be on display inside the Obama Presidential Center. He has remained active on social media, posting recently about the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and the death of former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman . Biden made an April 16 campaign stop in Pennsylvania , where he spoke to campaign volunteers. Bill and Hillary Clinton attended a White House state dinner that Biden hosted April 10 for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida .

Fact check : No evidence that O.J. Simpson's last social media post was a confession

There is also no evidence Bush, Obama, Biden and the Clintons were presented with indictments at George H.W. Bush's funeral , which took place Dec. 5, 2018 – not "Nov. 31," as the article claims. (November only has 30 days .) Multiple images from the event appear to show them holding the funeral program .

While the article never explains what is meant by "9/11 crimes," USA TODAY has previously debunked baseless conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks, including that it was a "false flag" event .

The article also wrongly claims former Arizona Sen. John McCain and the late Bush were executed. McCain died of brain cancer , a condition he publicly revealed about a year before his death. Bush also had health issues , including a rare condition known as vascular Parkinsonism.

USA TODAY reached out to American Media Group for comment. Medeea Greere, who is listed as the article's author, responded with a link to an identical article posted in early 2019 on a website called Before It's News, which allows anyone to contribute .

Of course, this is proof that it's plagiarized, not that it's real.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Hill, April 12, George W. Bush to host Dallas fundraiser for GOP Pennsylvania Senate hopeful
  • Richard Nixon Foundation, March 15, President George W. Bush Honored at Nixon Library at Evening Dedicated to Advancing Civics Education
  • CBS News, March 8, Former President Obama gets look at new exhibit for future Chicago presidential center
  • Barack Obama, March 23, X post
  • Barack Obama, March 27, X post
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 16, Pennsylvania primary: Biden pushes for enhanced child tax credit and visits his childhood home in Scranton
  • Women's Wear Daily, April 11, Hillary Clinton Wears Kimono-like Caftan for Japanese State Dinner at the White House
  • C-SPAN, April 10, President Biden Welcomes Japanese Prime Minister to White House State Dinner
  • WUSA9-TV, Dec. 5, 2018, George H.W. Bush DC Funeral Service Leaflet
  • Getty Images, accessed April 17, State Funeral Held For George H.W. Bush At The Washington National Cathedral

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or e-newspaper here .

USA TODAY is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, which requires a demonstrated commitment to nonpartisanship, fairness and transparency. Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Meta .

THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Guantanamo Province

Things to do in guantanamo province.

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  • Good for Couples
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  • Hidden Gems
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

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1. El Yunque


2. Maguana Beach


3. Museo Arqueologico la Cueva Del Paraiso


4. Canon del Rio Yumuri


5. Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion


6. Playa Blanca


7. Parque Independencia


8. Zoologico de Piedra


9. Museo Municipal del Fuerte Matachín


10. First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba


11. Majayara park


12. Palacio Salcines

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13. Catedral de Santa Catalina de Ricci


14. Casa de la Trova


15. Parque De Matachin

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16. Baracoa Bike Rental


17. Baracoa4u


18. BaracoaTours


What travellers are saying

Lisa P

  • Maguana Beach
  • Museo Arqueologico la Cueva Del Paraiso
  • Parque Independencia
  • Playa Blanca
  • Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion
  • Canon del Rio Yumuri

THE 5 BEST Guantanamo Province Sights & Historical Landmarks

Guantanamo province landmarks.

  • Churches & Cathedrals
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  • Architectural Buildings
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good for Kids
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Guantánamo Bay Opens an Extra Courtroom

Planners added the national security courtroom for pretrial hearings and to prepare for the possibility of a Sept. 11 trial.

A sign reading “courtroom access here” is seen in front of a barbed-wire fence and orange barricades.

By Carol Rosenberg

Reporting from the war crimes court compound called Camp Justice at Guantánamo Bay

Military staff members have yet to put a clock on a wall or stabilize the air-conditioning. Yet the Pentagon managed to open its long-delayed $4 million secondary courtroom this week and hold simultaneous hearings in adjacent chambers at Guantánamo Bay.

The step was small but significant. It meant that, if pretrial issues and housing problems are ever resolved, the war court could hold a trial in one of its four active cases without bringing the other three to a standstill.

This week’s opening put the idea to a test.

A military judge in the new courtroom heard lawyers argue motions in the 2002 Bali bombing case while the defendant, an Indonesian prisoner known as Hambali , looked on. In the original courtroom next door, a second judge presided over testimony from an F.B.I. witness in the Sept. 11, 2001, case but with two key constituencies missing.

None of the defendants accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks came to court on Tuesday morning. And the four journalists who traveled to the base on Saturday planning to cover both hearings were denied access inside on Tuesday morning.

The court spokesman notified media representatives on Monday night that none of the journalists could move back and forth between the two hearings, as court reporters routinely do.

Instead, they had to choose to observe one hearing and stay there, at least until lunch. All opted to see Mr. Hambali’s judge gavel open the hearing in the new courtroom , which was retrofitted with a gallery for the public.

Only Brig. Gen. Jackie L. Thompson Jr., an Army officer overseeing the defense teams, was allowed to observe the proceedings from both spectators’ galleries. He started off sitting in front of the four reporters at the Bali bombing case hearing, then left midmorning. He walked next door to the adjacent gallery, slid into the empty row reserved for media members and watched the Sept. 11 case hearing in progress.

The episode illustrated the difficulties of watching a proceeding live, even in the 20th year of hearings at the offshore, hybrid military-civilian court whose motto is “Fairness * Transparency * Justice.”

Transcripts of open sessions are redacted by a secret entity before they are released to the public, sometimes months later. Journalists who want to write or broadcast about the hearings need to be affiliated with a recognized organization, apply to the Pentagon, undergo a criminal-background check and meet a sponsor before dawn for a charter flight to the base. Photography at the court is forbidden, even between sessions.

Reporters must sit in specifically assigned seats at the court as they appear on a daily roster. On Tuesday, when the new court opened, a Spanish journalist was given a seat that did not have a view of the prisoner, although there were 25 empty seats in the gallery.

Reporters are monitored in court and by a civilian chaperone with a security clearance as they head to the latrine. On Tuesday morning, when the judge called his first recess at the newly opened court, a chaperone asked a reporter, “Do you need to go potty?”

War court spokesmen have described the arrangements as national security necessities.

The court has cost U.S. taxpayers around $2 billion in proceedings, planning and construction, and the prison operation that now holds 30 detainees has cost billions more. A $10 million tiny-house village of 150 single-occupancy trailers meant to house legal teams has not yet opened, but it already had a fungus problem in 2022.

In a tentative test in January, court management housed about a dozen members of the military in the units, which are on the outskirts of the court compound by a beach. But court officials will not discuss the experiment or when the rest of the units will open.

Carol Rosenberg reports on the wartime prison and court at Guantánamo Bay. She has been covering the topic since the first detainees were brought to the U.S. base in 2002. More about Carol Rosenberg

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70CDCR23C00000001 P00011: GITMO SPC – Guantanamo, Cuba

Proactive Disclosure Category Detention Facility Contracts - H.R. 116-458 P. 38 FOIA Link 70CDCR23C00000001 P00011: GITMO SPC – Guantanamo, Cuba

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  28. 70CDCR23C00000001 P00011: GITMO SPC

    70CDCR23C00000001 P00011: GITMO SPC - Guantanamo, Cuba. Return to top. Address. 500 12th St SW Washington, DC 20536. Report Crimes: Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. Related Information. Mission; Who We Are; ICE Leadership; Career Opportunities; News Releases and Statements; Contact Us. General Information; ICE Field Offices;