Miss Universe Takes Heat over Cuba

By Circles Robinson

Diana Mendoza, photo: Wikimedia Commons
Dayana Mendoza, Photo: Wikimedia Commons

HAVANA TIMES, April 2 — Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza took down the post on her blog about her “fun” visit to the US Guantanamo Naval Base and replaced it with a statement from Paula M. Shugart, the head of the Miss Universe organization. http://www.missuniverse.com/missuniverse/blog.php

The case is a good example how some good times involving a couple beauty queens and a slew of soldiers can turn sour if human rights and other political issues are unwittingly mixed in.

Mendoza traveled to the occupied Cuban territory with Miss USA Crystle Stewart. Together they visited bars, beaches and took boat and land excursions with the troops. They also got to see some tricks from the “cute” military dogs used to break hapless prisoners.

“We visited the detainee camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting,” said Mendoza who grew up in Venezuela but has lived in the US as a model for several years.

Mendoza also described how the Marines showed her the division between the Gitmo military base and Cuba and gave her a little history lesson to go with it.

The US military has held Guantanamo Bay since 1903 on what Cuba considers a totally illegitimate perpetual lease.

The situation would be similar to a foreign country occupying the city of Long Beach, California with a Naval Base, justified by a lease signed at gunpoint over a hundred years ago.

When it was time to go Mendoza, said: “I didn’t want to leave; it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.”

Shugart said “the Miss Universe Organization has had a longstanding relationship with the USO (United Service Organizations).” She noted that such visits are routinely undertaken to “boost the moral of the men and women in uniform at bases around the globe” including those in the occupied countries of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The scandal over Miss Universe’s statements comes at a time when a growing number of US Representatives and Senators are calling for normalized relations with Cuba, including a lifting of the travel ban on US citizens visiting the island and eliminating trade sanctions.

When President Obama meets with the regions leaders at the America’s Summit in Trinidad and Tobago on April 17-19, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made it clear that Cuba, the only country not invited, will be on the agenda.

Chavez, Brazil’s Lula da Silva and numerous other Latin American and Caribbean leaders have urged Obama to end his country’s half century blockade on the island. Many have also voiced that the US President should return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.

2 thoughts on “Miss Universe Takes Heat over Cuba

  • Dear Readers,

    Here is an article published today on the UPI.com website justifying Miss Univervse’s great trip to the US Naval Base located on occupied Cuban territory at Guanatanamo Bay.

    Commander defends Miss USA Gitmo visit
    Published: April 4, 2009 at 1:29 AM

    GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 4 (UPI) — The commander of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says Miss Universe and Miss USA visited the camp for the benefit of troops stationed there.

    “They were on tour to say `hello and thank you’ to the guard force,” Navy Rear Adm. David M. Thomas Jr. told The Miami Herald.

    Crystle Stewart, Miss USA, and Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, of Venezuela were at the camp from March 21 through March 24 on a trip arranged by the USO, which provides entertainment for the U.S. military. Critics said the camp violated the Geneva Conventions ban on allowing detainees to be an object of “public curiosity” by allowing the two beauty queens to see a prisoner compound.

    Mendoza wrote about Guantanamo in her blog, describing the water in the bay as “sooo beautiful” and the camp as “very interesting.”

    Guards told the Herald the women were conservatively dressed and the detainees appeared not to notice them.

    Any comments from our readers are welcome.
    Circles Robinson

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