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On this day February 23, 1903

Cuba leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is located at the southeastern end of Cuba and has been used by the United States Navy for more than a century.

Aerial view of Guantánamo Bay

Aerial view of Guantánamo Bay

It is the oldest overseas U.S. Navy Base, and the only one in a country with which the United States does not have diplomatic relations.

The Cuban government opposes the presence of the naval base, claiming that the lease is invalid under international law. The US government claims that the lease is valid. Read More…

Closure of Guantanamo take longer than expected

The New York Times said on Wednesday that the Obama administration may not be able to close the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and transfer terrorism suspects held there until 2011 at the earliest.

The administration announced plans last week to acquire an under-utilized state prison in the Midwest state of Illinois to house up to 100 Guantánamo detainees. However, The Times says the United States Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay the state for the facility, which would cost about $150 million. Read More…

On this day December 2, 1956

granma-route-mine-20

The yacht Granma, carrying Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other members of the 26th of July Movement, reached the shores of Cuba having sailed in the boat Granma from Tuxpan, Veracruz, ready to organize and lead a revolution.

The 60-foot (18-meter) diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people. It is said to have been named for the original owner’s grandmother. Read More…

On this day October 10, 1868

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and his followers proclaimed Cuba’s independence from Spain, sparking the Ten Years’ War.

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes

The war began on October 10, 1868 when sugar mill owner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes made the Grito de Yara (Cry of Yara), declaring Cuban independence.

That morning, after sounding the slave bell that indicated to his slaves it was time for work, they stood before him waiting for orders, and Cespedes announced they were all free men, and were invited to join him and his fellow conspirators in war against the Spanish government of Cuba.

For this, he is called Padre de la Patria (Father of the Country). In April 1869 he was chosen President of the Republic of Cuba in Arms. Read More…

Huge crowd attends Cuba peace concert

Hundreds of thousands of people filled Havana’s Revolution Square for a “peace” concert on Sunday in which Colombian singer Juanes and other mJuanes-2006usicians sought to bridge the political divide that has separated Cubans for 50 years.

The Cuban concert coincides with U.N. International Peace Day and could feature up to 12 artists from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, and the United States. Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez and local salsa stars Los Van Van will also be participating.

Juanes has received criticism on his potential concert by some in the Cuban-American/Cuban exile community in Miami who believe it will be seen as an act of support for the communist government of Cuba. Read More…

Cuban revolutionary hero buried in Cuba

Cuban revolutionary and Vice President Juan Almeida Bosque dies of a heart attack at the age of 82.

Juan Almeida Bosque

Juan Almeida Bosque

Juan Almeida Bosque, born in 1927, was a Cuban politician and one of the original commanders of the 1950s Cuban Revolution.

After the Revolution, he was a prominent figure in the Communist Party of Cuba; at the time of his death in 2009, he was a Vice-President of the Cuban Council of State and was its third ranking member.

He was one of only a few individuals who have received the honorary title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba.

A memorial ceremony was held on September 13 in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, with several other memorials occurring across Cuba. A national day of mourning was also declared, with flags flown at half mast. Read More…

OAS votes to readmit Cuba

News outlets are reporting that the Organization of American States (OAS) has voted to rescind the 1962 suspension of Cuba. The Washington D.C. based organization had suspended the island nation in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro led the successful overthrow of the U.S. backed Batista government.

Pan American Union Headquarters

Pan American Union

At the time, the organization cited the incompatibility of Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist doctrine with its own charter.

Since Cuba’s suspension the U.S. government has stated that any lifting of the ban would depend upon both developments of personal freedoms and democratic reforms on the island. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had stated at the OAS meeting that “membership in the OAS must come with responsibilities;” however, the U.S. delegation left before the final vote citing the inability of the organization to reach an agreement on the issue of Cuba. Read More…