Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Red-faced pageant officials delete Guantanamo post

AP , SAN JUAN

Miss Universe’s blog posting about having fun at Guantanamo Bay has vanished from the pageant’s Web site as embarrassed officials try to quash what they call a misunderstanding.

A flurry of critical commentary and news stories over the Venezuelan beauty queen’s lighthearted post underscores that the military prison at Guantanamo remains a damaging symbol for the US.

Dayana Mendoza’s deleted posting from late last month sounded like a note home from a spring breaker.

“We hung out with the guys from the East Coast and they showed us the boat inside and out, how they work and what they do, we took a ride around the land and it was a loooot of fun!” Mendoza wrote.

“The water in Guantanamo Bay is soooo beautiful!” she wrote at another point.

Those descriptions did not refer to the detention center for alleged terrorists, which occupies a sliver of the 116km² base.

In a brief mention of the detainee camp, Mendoza said her group “saw the jails, where they shower, how they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books.” She described the prison only as “very interesting.”

In place of her posting on Wednesday was a statement from Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, who said Mendoza and Miss USA Crystle Stewart had gone to Guantanamo on a USO tour to boost the morale of US troops.

Shugart said Mendoza, in her post about having a fun trip, was referring to “the hospitality she received while meeting the members of the US military and their families.”

The affair angered some Venezuelans, who said Mendoza had harmed their country’s image by speaking positively about the US military prison.

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