Cuba’s Guantanamo

By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press – May 28, 2000

GUANTANAMO, Cuba (AP) _ The watchtowers along the barbed wire severing the U.S. military base from communist territory bear silent witness to decades of Cold War still playing out in southeastern Cuba.

An American UH-1N Huey helicopter buzzes the line, swirling dust around cactus and grayish henequen plants dotting the sun-baked semidesert that hugs the deep blue Guantanamo Bay.

Camouflage-clad Cuban soldiers schooled in the politics of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Karl Marx keep watch in what they call “free territory.”

But while Cuba’s elite Frontier Brigade considers Guantanamo the front line of defense against the “Yanqui enemy,” tensions that once crackled along 17.4 miles of tornado fencing are now whispers.

“There has been a relaxation since around 1995,” Col. Gamalier Estevez, the Frontier Brigade’s commander, said during a rare visit by American journalists to the area patrolled outside the 45-square-mile U.S. base. “Before, there were many provocations by American soldiers.”