“THIS DAY IN CUBAN HISTORY…. – Guantanamo Bay, 1898”

A publication of the Cuban Studies Institute

Guantanamo Bay, 1898
With the U.S. Navy successful blockade of the Spanish Squadron in Santiago, the need for a nearby bay, controlled by the Cuban rebels and U.S. troops for supply, coaling and maintenance of the warships, became urgent.  It soon became evident that the best anchorage facility was the Bay of Guantánamo.

On June 6, 1898, in an excellent display of tactical coordination, the Cuban forces led by General Pedro “Periquito” Pérez, secured the Playa del Este in Guantánamo Bay, where 400 U.S. Marines landed in Cuban soil.  The Spanish garrison counter-attacked.  In three days of bitter fight, the Cuban-American forces prevailed.

It was a huge logistical victory.  From this moment on, the U.S. Navy had one of the finest harbors in Cuba to supply the warships for a prolonged blockade of Santiago.  The Spanish garrison entrenched in the town of Guantánamo, twelve miles from the bay, failed to challenge again the permanent use of this vital anchorage for the U.S. Navy.

As a tribute to the decisive presence of the Cuban forces in the success of the military operation, General Pedro “Periquito” Pérez was the guest of honor on board of the U.S. cruiser “Marble Head,” where the navy officers honored and acknowledged their gratitude to the courage and fighting qualities of the Cuban rebels in the Guantánamo Bay operation.

*Pedro Roig is Executive Director of the Cuban Studies Institute. Roig is an attorney and historian that has written several books, including the Death of a Dream: A History of Cuba. He is a veteran of the Brigade 2506.