Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Cuban and U.S. military hold joint exercise at Guantánamo
A little-known fact regarding the controversial U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo (which the United States claimed as a prize at the end of the Spanish-American War) is that for years the Cuban and U.S. military commanders have met each Friday for fence-line talks that include breakfast together. (Fidel Castro's offer to send 1,600 doctors to help Hurricane Katrina victims was made during these talks; Bush, of course, turned down the offer.)
Last week, the two "enemies" upped the ante when they conducted a joint military exercise in the vicinity of the Northeast Gate–the sole crossing point between the base and Cuba.
Remarkably, military helicopters of the Cuban Frontier Brigade crossed into the U.S. zone while a U.S. medical team set up a triage center on Cuban territory with their Cuban counterparts.
The U.S. military then announced that the joint "first responders and emergency response drills" have actually been held every year since 1999 in an effort to avoid potentially deadly misunderstandings along the perimeter, ostensibly in the event of a natural disaster, such as a forest fire along the fenceline (the Cuban helicopters crossed into U.S. territory to drop water to extinguish a purpose-set fire during the drill).
Between the weekly meetings, the Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Leary, other U.S. military officers, and their Cuban counterparts regularly communicate by e-mail.
Fidel has proposed to make the base an international medical center for all the Caribbean nations if Uncle Sam relinquishes its hold. Meanwhile, in November 2008, Raúl Castro said he would be willing to meet President Obama on "neutral ground"... meaning Guantánamo, where the U.S. military has held a perpetual lease since 1903, much to post-revolutionary Cuba's chagrin.
An interesting tidbit: the base is the only place in Cuba with a McDonald's!