Miss Universe Visits Guantánamo Bay


Updated | March 31 Don’t ask us how or why we came across this — and the British home secretary’s husband did not bring it to our attention — but the latest entry on the blog of the reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, has a sort of eye-catching dateline: “March 27, 2009, Guantánamo Bay.”
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images Venezuela’s Dayana Mendoza was crowned Miss Universe in July, 2008.
According to the Web site of the U.S.O., which arranged the visit, the Miss Universe Organization made the decision to “deploy Crystle Stewart, Miss U.S.A. 2008, and Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to visit troops as part of a U.S.O./Armed Forces Entertainment tour.”
Ms. Mendoza, who competed as Miss Venezuela, has a blog on the pageant’s Web site, and here’s what she wrote last Friday, after her deployment:
This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience.
We arrived in Gitmo on Friday and stared going around the town, everybody knew Crystle and I were coming so the first thing we did was attend a big lunch and then we visited one of the bars they have in the base. We talked about Gitmo and what is was like living there. The next days we had a wonderful time, this truly was a memorable trip! 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!
We also met the Military dogs, and they did a very nice demonstration of their skills. All the guys from the Army were amazing with us.
We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting.
We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.
The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay
I didn’t want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.
That glowing account of Ms. Mendoza’s visit to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay is unlikely to please Hugo Chavez, her country’s president. Mr. Chavez, who reportedly called Ms. Mendoza to congratulate her when she won the Miss Universe crown last year, recently called on the United States to “return Guantánamo and Guantánamo Bay to the Cubans” after closing the detention facility there.
Mr. Chavez, who is close to the Cuban leadership, may now be rethinking the praise he heaped on Ms. Mendoza on Venezuelan television last year, when she returned to Caracas with the crown:

Update: The Miss Universe Organization, which we had been unable to reach for comment on Monday, sent us a written statement (.pdf) on Ms. Mendoza’s visit, and blog post, late on Tuesday afternoon. The statement, which notes that Miss Universe is “An NBC Universal, Inc. and Donald J. Trump Partnership,” is from Paula Shugart, the organization’s president. It reads, in part:
Dayana Mendoza’s comments on her blog were in reference to the hospitality she received while meeting the members of the U.S. military and their families who are stationed in Guantánamo.
The Miss Universe Organization echoes the mission of the USO, which is to lift the spirits of U.S. troops and their families wherever they serve. We will continue to show our appreciation and express our gratitude to the military personnel who serve our nation.


March 30, 2009, 3:32 pm

Miss Universe Visits Guantánamo Bay - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com


By Robert Mackey