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Organizacion Autentica


Dos fragmentos tomados de archivos del US Navy sobre Guantanamo

The Naval Reservation was formally turned over to the U. S. Government at noon, 10 December 1903, on board the U. S. S. Kearsarge, in Guantanamo Bay. The Commander in Chief of the North Atlantic Fleet represented the United States and Señor Portuondo, Chief of the Public Works of the Province of Santiago, representing Cuba. Lt. Commander W. H. Allen, USN assumed command of the Naval Station that day as the first Commandant.

The first site for a Naval Station, to be located on the leased Naval Reservation, was recommended and selected by a board of five officers, of which Captain William Swift was the senior member. North Toro Cay and South Toro Cay were selected for the main activities, the principal structures and activities to be on South Toro Cay. These cays were originally separated by water at high tide. One of the first projects was to join them together by building a road across the marshy flats, thus forming a connecting neck of land. The two cays virtually became a geographical entity. Fort Toro, the Spanish stronghold mentioned in a preceding chapter, was on North Toro Cay, some distance above the boundary line.

There is a blueprint of a plan on file in the Naval Station Public Works Department, dated June 1904, showing the proposed development of the Naval Station on North and South Toro Cays. This plan was part of a report made by a board, probably the one of which Captain William Swift was senior member. The plan included on South Toro a large dry dock in the natural inlet in the center of the cay, plus a second dry dock in natural inlet on the western side; a wharf; ordnance piers; officers quarters; enlisted men's barracks; Marine barracks; supply buildings; quarters for civilians; and other facilities. On North Toro there was a section set aside for a hospital, southwest of Commandant's Hill, on which hill a million-gallon reservoir was to be built. Very little of the proposed plan was ever executed in the form of permanent construction. Few people know that a plan existed.

Lieutenant Commander Allen's tenure of office ran from December 1903 to May 1904, when he was relieved by Commander Charles C. Rogers, USN, who was in command for over two years, until September 1906. (Commander Rogers was later a Rear Admiral).

Work Advances

It was during Commander Rogers' period of command (May 1904-September 1906) that much of the work on the Naval Station was pushed forward. The million-gallon water reservoir on the top of Commandant's Hill was started. A smaller reservoir (100,000 gallon) as built and put into operation on another hill some distance to the south. In this operation water was brought from Guantanamo City to Caimanera where it was delivered from tank cars to station water barges; these barges were towed to the station wharf and the water was then pumped up to the 100,000 gallon reservoir. The station wharf had been built on the southwestern point of South Toro. Small water barges delivered water to various areas of the reservation, such as Hospital Cay and Fisherman's Point, having filled up at the wharf from pipes leading down from the small reservoir on North Toro.

On South Toro excavation for the big dry dock was undertaken. Station buildings were built, including a dispensary, machine shop, administration building, Marine barracks, and store houses-all on South Toro Cay except the dispensary which was on high ground between North and South Toro.

Along the north boundary line a 10 foot high concrete wall was built, extending across North Toro from Wireless Inlet to Granadillo Bay. The wall was completed in 1906. The first wireless (radio) station was also constructed in Commander Rogers' time, the location being on a northwest peninsula of North Toro Cay, the peninsula now named Wireless Point.

Other parts of the Naval Reservation were marked for development. Notable among them was the Fleet Rifle Range which was to be built in the general locality of the present Fleet Recreation Center, east of Evans Point. By 1906 much of the work had been done on this range, which the Fleet was to know so well in the years to come.

Fueling a Problem

Of the logistic problems confronting the Naval Station, the major task was fueling of visiting ships. In 1905 a small coaling facility was located on Fisherman's Point. Early in 1906 it was moved to Hospital Cay, the small island in the bay already mentioned, where it was built up as a coaling station and maintained until newer methods of fueling ships with oil were inaugurated. By 1906 some living quarters had been built on Hospital Cay, in addition to the structures associated with the coaling station.

Turning again to the main activity on South Toro Cay, there was disappointment and disillusionment. Technical difficulties developed in the course of the excavation of the dry dock basin. This work had proceeded to where the excavation was completed and a dike, buttressed by the later addition of sheet piling, was in place. However, work was stopped in 1906. This is explained in an account which a Chaplain Glunt wrote in 1936, some of it perhaps apocryphal:

Treaty of 1934

In all provisions regarding the Guantanamo area, the original agreement (February 1903) and the supplementary agreement were later confirmed by the Treaty of 1934 between the United States and Cuba, signed at Washington on 29 May 1934. A copy is appended for reference. This treaty has the effect of giving the United States a perpetual lease on this reservation, capable of being voided only by our abandoning the area or by mutual agreement between the two countries. The so-called "Platt Amendment," which gave the United States the right to intervene in Cuba, died with this treaty. Bahia Honda was not mentioned, having long since been abandoned.

Thus it is clear that at Guantanamo Bay we have a Naval reservation which, for all practical purposes, is American territory. Under the foregoing agreements, the United States has for approximately fifty years exercised the essential elements of sovereignty over this territory, without actually owning it. Unless we abandon the area or agree to a modification of the terms of our occupancy, we can continue in the present status as long as we like. Persons on the reservation are amenable only to United States legislative enactments. There are a few restrictions on our freedom of action, but they present no serious problem. We may not use the reservation for other than a naval station; we have agreed not to interfere with the passage of vessels engaged in Cuban trade; private enterprise is forbidden on the reservation; and we are obligated to prevent the smuggling of materials and merchandise into Cuban territory.

The prosecution of Cuban Nationals and other aliens who commit crimes and misdemeanors on the reservation presents a subject that should be mentioned. Until the advent of the Uniform Code of Military Justice on 31 May 1951, the United States has had no peacetime legal machinery for trying such offenders. Accordingly, we have habitually requested local Cuban courts to exercise concurrent jurisdiction and handle such cases. Because essential witnesses, usually U. S. military personnel, are oftentimes transferred before offenders are brought to trial, this procedure has its shortcomings. However, it will likely be continued. In a reciprocal manner, U. S. military personnel, charged with offenses in Cuba, are habitually turned over to U. S. jurisdiction for legal action.

Closed Port

While this chapter is designed to cover the terms of our lease, and what they mean in a legal sense, no outline of the reservation's legal status would be complete and up-to-date without mention of the executive order which made Guantanamo Bay a "closed port". This order, signed by the President on 1 May 1941 and currently found in General Order No. 13, establishes Guantanamo Bay as a "Naval Defensive Sea Area" and a "Naval Air Space Reservation". By its terms no vessel or other craft, other than public vessels of the United States and vessels engaged in Cuban trade, may be navigated into the area, unless similarly authorized, no aircraft, except other than public aircraft of the United States, may be flown into the reservation. In other words, Guantanamo Bay is closed to commercial shipping and aircraft, except vessels engaged in Cuban trade, and also to foreign warships and aircraft. Vessels and aircraft in distress can be the only exceptions to this regulation.


Courtesy of Jose Luis Fernandez Co-Editor of LaVozdeCubaLibre


Cuba, España y los Estados Unidos | Organización Auténtica | Política Exterior de la O/A | Temas Auténticos | Líderes Auténticos | Figuras del Autenticismo | Símbolos de la Patria | Nuestros Próceres | Martirologio |

Presidio Político de Cuba Comunista | Costumbres Comunistas | Temática Cubana | Brigada 2506 | La Iglesia | Cuba y el Terrorismo | Cuba - Inteligencia y Espionaje | Cuba y Venezuela | Clandestinidad | United States Politics | Honduras vs. Marxismo | Bibliografía | Puentes Electrónicos |

Organización Auténtica