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Guantanamo 'fun' - Miss Universe

Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza, from Venezuela
Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza, says the camp was "soooo beautiful"

Life may be tough for its full-time residents, but for Miss Universe a day out at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay was simply "a loooot of fun!"

Venezuelan beauty queen Dayana Mendoza visited the centre and wrote about it on the Miss Universe blog on 27 March.

Her remarks that she "didn't want to leave" the "calm and beautiful" place attracted some scathing reactions.

Her blog entry has now been removed, while a statement has been uploaded explaining the motives of her trip.

Former detainees and human rights groups have alleged that torture - including "waterboarding" (simulated drowning) - took place at the camp.

Used to hold captives deemed "enemy combatants" in former President George W Bush's "war on terror", it became one of the most contentious symbols of his administration.

President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the camp, which now holds around 240 inmates, by early next year.

'Incredible experience'

Ms Mendoza visited the camp along with Miss USA, Crystal Stewart, for several days and recounted her experiences in her blog.

A detention facility in Guantanamo Bay
The camp has been criticised as a torture centre

It was an "incredible experience" she said.

"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 they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting."

She goes on to extol the virtues of the water around the bay - "soooo beautiful!" - and ends her entry: "I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful."

'Horrendous'

Her comments attracted plentiful news coverage and some ridicule from bloggers, one of whom exclaimed: "My God! Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity. This is horrendous."

Dayana Mendoza's comments on her blog were in reference to the hospitality she received
Paula M Shugart
Miss Universe Organization president

The blog entry has now been removed from the Miss Universe website.

Instead, a statement from the organisation's president, Paula M Shugart, has been posted explaining that Ms Mendoza's visit was part of a programme of "goodwill tours to visit the men and women in uniform who serve our country around the world".

Ms Mendoza's comments "were in reference to the hospitality she received while meeting the members of the US military and their families who are stationed in Guantanamo", the statement explains.



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