Leslie MazochComment

The Two Guantanamos

Leslie MazochComment
The Two Guantanamos

A photographic look at life inside the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay and the nearby Cuban city of Guantanamo, by Ramon Espinosa.

A first lieutenant police officer walks his son to a party where they will cook a large stew in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. It's tradition for neighbors to pool their efforts in a large pork-based stew.

A detainee prays at Camp VI on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018.

 A man walks along a road at dawn, away from Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. 

A man walks along a road at dawn, away from Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. 

 Detainees chat before evening prayers inside the Camp VI detention facility at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. This is a recreational space where detainees can visit and eat meals. 

Detainees chat before evening prayers inside the Camp VI detention facility at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. This is a recreational space where detainees can visit and eat meals. 

 A man rinses his horses off in Bano River after washing them in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. Locals use the river for swimming, cooling off their work horses, and washing cars.

A man rinses his horses off in Bano River after washing them in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. Locals use the river for swimming, cooling off their work horses, and washing cars.

 A bird perches on barbed wire outside the Camp VI detention facility at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

A bird perches on barbed wire outside the Camp VI detention facility at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

 A youth rides past a mural of a Cuban flag and Fidel Castro jumping off a tank during the Bay of Pigs invasion in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018.

A youth rides past a mural of a Cuban flag and Fidel Castro jumping off a tank during the Bay of Pigs invasion in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018.

A statue of Iron Spartans stands on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. The icon represents the 591st U.S. Military Police Company, which was deployed at one time to the base.

While Muslims detained at the U.S. naval station base at Guantanamo Bay bowed their heads in prayer on a recent day, Cuban men in the nearby city of Guantanamo tooted horns and banged on drums as they prepared for a carnival.

The two Guantanamos have been a contrast since the U.S. opened the base at the southeastern tip of the island in 1903, following the Spanish-American War, and the divide has only grown under Cuba’s communist government, which refuses to cash the annual rent checks from Washington as it insists the U.S. leave. 

People on both sides of the closely monitored boundary have long led different lives, yet they all live under government restrictions and appeals to patriotism.

They are separated by a “cactus curtain” planted by Cuban soldiers in the early 1960s following the revolution led by Fidel Castro, to deter Cubans from trying to find refuge at the base. Some land mines are also believed to remain on Cuban soil, while the troops on the U.S. side rely on sound and motion sensors.

 A Cuban building carries the Spanish message "Republic of Cuba. Free American Territory," behind a gate marking the border with the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018

A Cuban building carries the Spanish message "Republic of Cuba. Free American Territory," behind a gate marking the border with the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018

 Cubans practice for carnival in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018. Guantanamo's carnival, which runs Aug. 9-12, show cases parades of dancers, floats that compete for prizes, food stands and street music.

Cubans practice for carnival in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018. Guantanamo's carnival, which runs Aug. 9-12, show cases parades of dancers, floats that compete for prizes, food stands and street music.

 A U.S. soldier stands guard at Camp Delta as other soldiers jog past on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018.

A U.S. soldier stands guard at Camp Delta as other soldiers jog past on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018.

 A youth works out on an exercise bar at a park by Plaza de la Revolucion in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

A youth works out on an exercise bar at a park by Plaza de la Revolucion in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

 A bobblehead statue of Fidel Castro on a radio is for sale at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018. GTMO Radio's motto is "Rockin' in Fidel's Backyard.” 

A bobblehead statue of Fidel Castro on a radio is for sale at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018. GTMO Radio's motto is "Rockin' in Fidel's Backyard.” 

 A taxi driver steers his classic American car past a sign that reads in Spanish "I'm Fidel" on the road to Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

A taxi driver steers his classic American car past a sign that reads in Spanish "I'm Fidel" on the road to Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

Some 5,000 U.S. military personnel, dependents and civilian contractors live on the base. The detention center that opened there in January 2002 now holds 40 detainees, including five men facing trial by military commission for planning and aiding the 9/11 terror attack on the U.S.

The city of Guantanamo is home to about 200,000 people, many of whom work in agriculture. They cultivate chocolate, sugarcane, coffee and other crops, compared with the small garden featuring sunflowers at the base that detainees tend as the Stars and Stripes flutter overhead.

 A youth jumps into the Bano River in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. The shirt at left features Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi. 

A youth jumps into the Bano River in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. The shirt at left features Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi. 

 A U.S. soldier carries food past Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

A U.S. soldier carries food past Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

 A butcher works in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. Pork is the most accessible meat in Cuba, where the pig has its own song: "El Puerco Mamifero Nacional," or National Mammal Pork," sung by the Buena Fe band.

A butcher works in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. Pork is the most accessible meat in Cuba, where the pig has its own song: "El Puerco Mamifero Nacional," or National Mammal Pork," sung by the Buena Fe band.

 A U.S. solider drives a military vehicle past Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

A U.S. solider drives a military vehicle past Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 5, 2018.

 Cubans wait for the "El Guantanamero" train to move so they can cross the track in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. 

Cubans wait for the "El Guantanamero" train to move so they can cross the track in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 25, 2018. 

 A female U.S. army soldier spends a quiet moment looking out at the ocean from the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. 

A female U.S. army soldier spends a quiet moment looking out at the ocean from the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. 

Hours after the harsh sun reaches its peak, Marines and sailors at the base sometimes head to the beach in their uniforms. Cubans in Guantanamo strip off their clothes and jump into a bright green river where horses also take a refreshing dip. At dawn, U.S. military personnel put on sneakers and head out for runs, while young Cubans clad in flip-flops exercise at a small park in the city.

Even though Fidel Castro died nearly two years ago, he lives on in the two Guantanamos. His name is emblazoned on a concrete sign on the highway leading into the city that reads, “Yo Soy Fidel.” A bobble-head figure of the former leader chomping on his trademark cigar is sold at the base radio station, whose motto is "Rockin' in Fidel's Backyard.”

 A U.S. soldier stands between cells used as a library and gym inside Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018.

A U.S. soldier stands between cells used as a library and gym inside Camp VI at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018.

 Men playing chess as another stands outside his home on a hot afternoon in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

Men playing chess as another stands outside his home on a hot afternoon in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

 Flags decorate the entrance to a soldier barracks on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. This barrack had two beds separated by a wall, and one bathroom. 

Flags decorate the entrance to a soldier barracks on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. This barrack had two beds separated by a wall, and one bathroom. 

 Men stand on a home's roof to cool off in in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

Men stand on a home's roof to cool off in in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018.

 A youth plays basketball in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018. Boys on summer break from school often meet at parks for a game of hoops.

A youth plays basketball in Guantanamo, Cuba, July 24, 2018. Boys on summer break from school often meet at parks for a game of hoops.

 Sunflowers grow in a recreational field used by detainees, planted and cared for by the prisoners at Camp VI on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. 

Sunflowers grow in a recreational field used by detainees, planted and cared for by the prisoners at Camp VI on the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, June 6, 2018. 


Text from the AP news story, A glimpse into life in Cuba’s 2 Guantanamos, by Ramon Espinosa. 

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