The U.S. admiral in charge of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is defending the decision to build a $744,000 soccer field for well-behaved prisoners, and said critics misunderstood the facility's purpose and logistics.The criticism from politicians has been predictable:
Rear Admiral David Woods said the camp's mission was not to punish foreign captives unnecessarily, many of whom have been held there for 10 years already. He said his job is to detain them away from the battlefield under safe and humane conditions, and that providing socialization opportunities was part of that...
The dusty, 28,000-square-foot soccer field includes a soft gravel walking track, security cameras and a high fence topped with razor wire. It is expected to open in the spring, after goal posts and latrines are added.
Woods said the cost of the recreation yard was high because every piece of equipment has to be imported by barge or plane to the remote base in southeast Cuba. The United States maintains an economic embargo against Cuba, its unwilling host, to pressure its communist government.
"That's probably the biggest misperception and lack of understanding of the expense of doing things down here," Woods said. "It's unlike any place else in the world mainly because we don't have the opportunity to capitalize on the local economy."
"It is curious that the federal government has managed to spend nearly a million dollars for the comfort and relaxation of detainees who are accused of posing a real risk to our country and people..."My rant would have a totally different focus. The U.S. has maintained an economic embargo against Cuba since I was a child - over 50 years ago. My understanding is that its stated purpose is to punish the Cuban people for a variety of real and perceived insults and injuries to the U.S., and in particular to incentivize them to topple Fidel Castro from power. The embargo costs the U.S. billions of dollars per year in lost trade, while Fidel has seen more U.S. presidents come and go than any foreign leader except Queen Elizabeth.
This soccer field could probably have been built for $150,000 if we had contracted with local Cuban businesses for the materials, the labor, and some of the nonspecialized equipment. Instead, American taxpayers have to foot the extra half-million in order to placate a handful of voters in a swing state and gratify the egos of American politicians.
I'll stop now.