Barbed wire, high fences, mine fields, watch towers, ferocious dogs, and sharpshooters firing at unarmed civilians…the tropical version of the Berlin Wall prevents escapees from reaching the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo. Cuba’s distinctive version of the barrier extends into Guantánamo Bay, where border guards fire from patrol boats or throw grenades at anyone trying to swim to the base.
In the mid-1990s, Cuba built a sea wall, visible on Google Earth. Its movable net allows authorized maritime traffic but is manned by guards trained to trap swimmers trying to get to the base.
While the NYT pushes for the end of the so-called embargo,
Cuba’s Penal Code (Article 215) continues to forbid citizens from leaving the island without prior government authorization. Attempting to do so is punishable with years of prison. Stealing or hijacking a vessel to flee can lead to capital punishment.
The Cuba Archive has documented 80 people killed or missing in attempts to reach the base.