Miss Universe's Gitmo Blog Vanishes

The affair angered Venezuelans who said Mendoza harmed their country's image with the post

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 United States.

Dayana Mendoza's now-deleted late-March posting 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 45-square-mile 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 Wednesday was a statement from Paula M. 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 U.S. troops.

Mendoza's blog referred to "the hospitality she received while meeting the members of the U.S. military and their families," Shugart wrote, trying to show that Miss Universe had not been referring to having fun at the detention center.

Still, the affair angered some Venezuelans, who said Mendoza had harmed their country's image by speaking positively about Guantanamo, where 240 men remain locked up by the U.S.

The beauty queens weren't the first celebrities to go to the isolated U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba. Country rocker Charlie Daniels was there in 2002, singing "The devil went down to Gitmo, he was looking for some Taliban" in front of cheering soldiers.

The Victoria's Secret models visited in December 2007, and participated in a Christmas parade. Portland rockers Everclear were there in 2008 and Art Alexakis, the band's leader, said "we had a great time."

Mendoza was crowned Miss Universe last year at a pageant in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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