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is a blog to give a fresh angle on a fascinating and beautiful Caribbean Island country that, despite being relatively small and with only 11 million people, has been a major player in American and world politics for a half century. I also suggest you try

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fireworks at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

by Circles Robinson

From every angle you look at it, the US Guantanamo Naval Base and offshore detention center, located on occupied Cuban territory, would appear to be an embarrassment and permanent contradiction to the principles of law and justice defended by Washington. However, there appears to be another side to the story.

The world of the GIs and their families at Gitmo, as they fondly call it, seems like a Disney fantasy.

The base newspaper, the 12-page Guantanamo Gazette, presents a land of well manicured lawns, smiling kids, marriages, parties, promotions, abundant leisure time, yard sales and succulent awards dinners with immaculately white-clad commanding officers.

Take the July 7 edition for example. The front page is filled with Independence Day fireworks and pages five and six tell of scavenger hunts, one-pitch softball and dodge ball tournaments, a sailing regatta, kids carnival and a rock concert. There’s news about a nice art show on page three. A feature article on page four reports on the recent visit of a female comedy group with their “4 the Boyz” show.

One of the comedians, on a repeat performance, told the Gazette she “cherishes her trips to Guantanamo because it changes her perception of the base.” The entertainer adds, “It’s one thing seeing this base from the media perspective and it’s another being here in person. The lifestyle is wonderful. Gitmo has a lot to offer.”

The Independence Day celebrations were topped off by the availability of two new US chain products. The Gazette tells its readers: “As of July 4th there is more than patrol boats and the best Navy on the planet at Guantanamo Bay. Breyers Ice Cream and Starbucks Coffee are now available at MWR’s Caribbean Coffee and Cream Internet cafe in the Bay View food complex, a new hotspot that is sure to be a great meeting and greeting place for all base residents.”

Another 4 the Boyz comedian said: “I won’t hesitate to return to Gitmo in the future. I love it down here and I will be honored to perform here again.”

Ironically, as the rest of Cuba begins a long summer of recreational and cultural activities, the base is also preparing for a fantastic school vacation for SOME of its younger residents. The Oasis Teen Center has scheduled computer building and check-ups, picnics, swimming parties, pool tournaments, horse shoes, miniature golf, races, bowling, dances and approved US movies.

The Guantanamo Gazette even has its classified ads section where one can buy used fishing gear, near-new furniture or find out where the almost daily yard sale is located. Worship gatherings from ten different religions are also listed.

The spectacular fireworks on the 4th of July served a double purpose. While the base residents living outside of the cages enjoyed the beautiful shapes and colors, those shackled and enclosed got another sound bite of the bombs that hit Afghanistan when the US attacked in 2001, shortly before their capture and transfer from arid lands to what some see as a tropical paradise, and others as a preview of hell.

One more article in the Gazette plays down the recent Supreme Court ruling against holding the military trials ordered by the White House. It makes it clear that the court said nothing about the legality of holding the prisoners in state of eternal limbo.

Reading the Guantanamo Gazette one gets the feeling that the soldiers and their families are either totally calloused to the crimes being committed in their midst or they learned World War II lessons about turning their cheek and ignoring what’s happening to one’s victims or neighbors.


Blogger Orlando said...

I guess Gitmo is a microcosm, a smaller representation of mainland US. Quite a contrast to Cuba, eh?

11:17 PM  
Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

The political-economy of this whole setup is as phony as a $3 bill. They'll sink as much money as they have to in order to maintain this Potemkin village. It's a potted plant, Orlando. Try not to avoid realizing that.

And just remember: pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

I love Gitmo and am going back for another 2 year tour, this time as a civilian. I am sorry that you do not see their participation in the genocide that took place in Afghanistan as a crime. Maybe some day you will see the light.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a graduate from WT Sampson High School, Gitmo Bay Cuba. It is funny to read opionions from cluless people that havnt lived there. Yes there are Americans living like Americans in Gitmo. They do so on an area 9X5 miles, half is water, half of the land is off limits or mine fields. The folks that live there do just that, live. Your political beliefs, being compaired to Nazi Germany are so, "global warming". Being American has more to do with who you are vs where you are. Its too bad that your guilt hasnt let you be proud to be an American. You cant open your eyes enough to know the prisoners in the camp are the enemy. They want to kill you and your way of life along with your free speech rights. The folks on the base understand this and live normal lives in spite of them being there, deservingly so. The base was there long before the prison opened, training sailors on shake down cruises with easy acess to deep blue water. Never really thought much about the mine fields, to busy living life like a proud American. I'd rather live there with the mine fields as next door to you with open highways.

8:12 AM  

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