More hoof in mouth in the news

Published on April 2 2009

Caracas-born Mendoza, 22, who visited the facility March 20-25 along with Miss USA Crystle Stewart, 27, enthused about her Guantanamo trip as an "incredible experience" in a blog entry posted on the Miss Universe website dated March 27, 2009  . "It was a loooot of fun," Mendoza wrote, describing how she and Stewart met U.S. military personnel and took rides around the camp, which is encircled by a barbed-wire fenced, minefields and watchtowers. She said they also visited a bar on the base and the "unbelievable" beach there. "We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting," she wrote. "I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful," she added.
via Miss Universe says had lot of fun in Guantanamo | Oddly Enough | Reuters.

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OK, I have to comment here and clarify a few things having lived in GTMO for 2 years. Everyone I have met since living in Guantanamo Bay only seems to associate GTMO with the prison camps that are there. GTMO has a long history before the prison camps were ever conceived. the United States has resided on the base since the spanish American war.The camps were originally started in the early 90's to house migrants from Cuba, Haiti, China, and various other countries where they were trying to escape. The camps were geared more toward refugee work until the US could find destinations for the refugees either through US immigration or repatriation to their home countries. At that time there was a certain number of "bad guys" who were identified and were kept in Camp XRAY" to isolate them from the general populace. Camp XRAY was not a nice place and it was designed as such to protect the occupants from each other and to protect the security from the occupants. When Migrant ops ceased, the camps were mothballed. Then when the war in Afghanistan and Iraq erupted, the camps were expanded, improved and upgraded for the new mission. Now, all this being said, Guantanamo Bay aside from the prison camps, is a beautiful place. It has beautiful beaches on its southern shores and the climate is such that it is hot in the summer with cool evenings and the winter is very mild if you can even call it winter. The facilities are generally pretty old but in good condition. There are numerous contractors there who employ people from all over the world to work there. Philippinos, Jamaicans, Haitians, Europeans, not to mention many military personnel from all walks of life. The entire Base is isolated from Cuba by a barbwire fence line outside which is an unmaintained mine field “no mans land” that Castro put in place in the 60's/70's. Additionally, the mine field is full of cactus that was transplanted there also. Hence the nick name "The Cactus Curtain".
All this taken into consideration, GTMO is a wonderful place that is generally very family oriented. There are lots of outdoor activities related to boating, scuba, swimming, sun bathing, sports, hiking etc. I can see why Miss Universe may have felt that way about the place. The problem lies in the fact that GTMO is much more than a big prison camp as the media portrays it. Very few people know what the base is all about. Having spent time there I completely understand Miss Universes comments, but they should have been put into the proper context. Not that the media would ever take comments out of context…..