Friday, December 08, 2006

Guantanamo Update

Le Monde dscribes an important US-controlled Carribean destination. Sounds like a flourishing business to me.

Avant 2002 et la "guerre mondiale" contre le terrorisme, Guantanamo était une base navale assoupie, louée à Cuba depuis 1903. Elle était peuplée des marins de l'US Navy et de leurs familles, au total quelque 2 300 personnes. En janvier, la prison va avoir 5 ans.

La population est maintenant de 8 000 personnes. "Le plus difficile est de trouver un logement pour tout le monde", dit le commandant de la base navale, le capitaine Mark Leary. Le département de la défense vient de finir un lotissement de 200 lits pour les personnels militaires. La phase II va commencer, avec 600 lits supplémentaires. "Nous sommes freinés par la pénurie de main-d'oeuvre", regrette le capitaine. Les ouvriers de la construction sont environ 2 000. Ils ont été amenés par charter de la Jamaïque et des Philippines. Le soir, on les croise à la bibliothèque, avec leur webcam. Ils communiquent avec leur famille sur les ordinateurs publics, contrôlés par l'armée. Ils sont plus nombreux que les personnels de la "task force" qui est en charge de la prison (1 800 soldats).

Interesting reading in any language. It's too bad more Americans don't read the foreign press. In response to anti-American news reports we look at the TV with blinking eyes and attribute such reports to some domestic political agenda instead of what they really are, the image of America that everyone in the world sees but us. There's an old joke about a guy coming home from a date, wondering why the girl was so unresponsive to his advances. Glancing in the mirror he flashed his biggest smile, and there on one of his front teeth he could not miss a piece of spinach almost as big as the tooth. No wonder his date didn't want to kiss him goodnight.
Before 2002 and the "global war" against terrorism, Guantanamo was a drowsy naval base, rented from Cuba since 1903. It was peopled with US Navy sailors and their families, some 2,300 people in total. In January, the prison will be five years old.

Now, the population is 8,000. "The hardest part is finding lodgings for everybody," says the naval base commandant, Captain Mark Leary. The Defense Department has just finished a 200-bed housing development for military personnel. Phase II is about to begin, with 600 additional beds. "We're slowed down by the lack of manpower," the captain regrets. There are about 2,000 construction workers. They've been brought by charter from Jamaica and the Philippines. At night, one sees them in the library, with their webcam. They communicate with their families on the public computers controlled by the Army. They are more numerous than the "task force" personnel in charge of the prison (1,800 soldiers).
The United States devotes 95 million dollars a year to Guantanamo's upkeep. After they've replaced the metal bars with PVC fixtures, the military have other projects. They dream of a judicial complex on a level with the event they hope to hold there in 2007: the first American trials for war crimes since the Second World War. Without waiting to know how the Supreme Court will rule on the new exceptional tribunals, the US Navy launched calls for bids at the beginning of November. It plans to construct three courtrooms so they can hold several trials at the same time, lodgings for close to 1,000 military, lawyers, and journalists, a garage for about 100 official vehicles and an 800-seat cafeteria ... to be completed before July 1, 2007. Congress is supposed to examine the project. Human rights organizations are impatient to know whether the Democrats - who have not taken an official position with respect to the closing of Guantanamo - will authorize the $125 million requested.

Sleep well, America.
Enjoy your holidays.
And thanks to Truthout for the translation.

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