If the prompt payment of rent is what makes a good tenant, then the United States has been an ideal tenant for Cuba. However, the U.S. has also been exceptionally difficult to evict. The United States has leased Cuba's Guantanamo Bay since the Spanish-American War in 1898 and has paid an annual rent of approximately $4,085 USD since 1903. Or tried to pay, anyway. For nearly 60 years, Cuba has refused to cash any of those checks because it doesn't want America occupying Guantanamo Bay any longer. The 45-square-mile (117-sq-km) area is home to a U.S. naval base and detention center, and former Cuban President Fidel Castro said using it for such "dirty work" was illegal. The base was originally established as a coaling station that helped America protect the Panama Canal, but it is now better known for its controversial treatment of terrorism suspects. Castro argued that since the base no longer has any strategic military purpose, it should be shut down. In a famous TV interview, the fiery Cuban leader showed off a desk stuffed with the uncashed U.S. checks, all made out to the "Treasurer General of the Republic," a position that has not existed since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
The dark history of Guantanamo:
- Since the camp was created by former President George W. Bush in 2002, at the start of the War on Terror, a total of 779 alleged enemy combatants have been imprisoned there.
- Although former President Barack Obama pledged to shut down the detention center, his plans were met with strong opposition from Congress.
- As of 2019, there are still 40 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, and President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to keep the prison open indefinitely.