The Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, "the only U.S. naval base on communist soil," is located on the southeastern coast of Cuba, about 400 miles from Miami. Over 3,000 U.S. military service members, civilians, and their families live in once sleepy Gitmo. The official site for Guantanamo Bay includes a brief history of the oldest foreign U.S. military base.
The strategic location of the area was first recognized during the Spanish-American War, when U.S. forces defeated Spain's Caribbean fleet near Santiago, Cuba, in 1898. In 1903, the United States leased the property from Cuba for use as a fueling station for the Navy, and in 1934 a formal treaty between the nations decreed that both countries had to "mutually consent to terminate the lease."
When President Eisenhower cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and imposed sanctions, thousands of Cuban refugees flooded the base. The following year all military personnel were evacuated for several months during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1964, the naval base was forced to become self-sufficient after Castro (who is from a nearby town) cut off power and water, hoping to force the base to close or move. The base now operates its own power and water desalination plants. Today its main missions are to "serve as a strategic logistics base for the Navy's Atlantic Fleet and to support counter drug operations in the Caribbean." Armed guards keep surveillance over its fenced-off perimeter 24 hours a day.
Now Guantanamo Bay is back in the news, its controversial prison Camp X-Ray holding and "interrogating" prisoners alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Obviously the only reason we are still there is that Cuba does not have the diplomatic or military might to force us to leave.
Another classic case of bullying and doing whatever we want despite the wishes of other sovereign countries.