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(gwäntä`nämō), city (1994 est. pop. 200,000), capital of Guantánamo prov., SE Cuba, on the Guaso River. It is the processing center for a rich sugar- and coffee-producing region and has road and rail connections with Santiago de CubaSantiago de Cuba
, city (1994 est. pop. 385,800), capital of Santiago de Cuba prov., SE Cuba. Cuba's second largest city, Santiago is situated on a cliff overlooking a bay. The city is a major port and the terminus of a major highway and railway.
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. Founded in the early 19th cent. by French colonists fleeing the slave rebellion in Haiti, Guantánamo retains many vestiges of French architecture.

The city is c.20 mi (30 km) inland from its port, Caimanera, on landlocked Guantánamo Bay, where the United States maintains an important naval station. Often called the Pearl Harbor of the Atlantic, the base has naval installations covering c.45 sq mi (116 sq km). Its site was leased to the United States in 1903 by a treaty that was renewed in 1934; consent of both governments is needed to revoke the agreement. Since 1960 the Cuban government has refused to accept the token annual rent ($5,000) from the United States and has pressured for the surrender of the base. In the mid-1990s thousands of refugees fleeing Cuba and Haiti were temporarily housed at the base.

A prison camp for several hundred persons accused of having TalibanTaliban
or Taleban
, Islamic fundamentalist militia of Afghanistan and later Pakistan, originally consisting mainly of Sunni Pashtun religious students from Afghanistan who were educated and trained in Pakistan.
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 or Al QaedaAl Qaeda
or Al Qaida
[Arab.,=the base], Sunni Islamic terrorist organization with the stated goals of uniting all Muslims and establishing a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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 ties was established (2002) there after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan during the Bush administration. Guantánamo was chosen because the Bush administration believed that federal constitutional protections should not apply to the base, which legally is not part of the United States; that argument was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2004. There have been accusations, some based on FBI e-mail, that prisoners there have been abused and tortured; several prisoners have committed suicide. In 2009 President Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp within a year, but difficulties associated with the process made closing it unachievable. When President Trump took office in 2017, he ended the closure process. In 2020, 40 prisoners remained of some 780 that been held at the base. Some 540 were released under President Bush, and some 200 under President Obama; most of those held there were never tried.


See S. I. M. Schwab, Guantánamo, USA (2009); M. O. Slahi, Guantánamo Diary (2015); M. Fallon, Unjustifiable Means (2017).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in eastern Cuba, in Oriente Province. Population, 134,100 (1970 census). Railroad and highway junction. Guantánamo produces food, textiles, and files. There are sugar plantations in the vicinity of Guantánamo. In Guantánamo Bay is a large US naval base (lease began in 1903). Cuba demands the return of land and maritime territory belonging to it in the area of Guantánamo.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.