Hundreds of Haitian Boat People Riot at Guantanamo Base
Hundreds of Haitians held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo, Cuba, rioted over the weekend, charging across razor concertina wire barriers and destroying 100 tents before being brought under control, a Navy spokesman said Monday.
Because of the disturbance, Brig. Gen. George Walls, the camp commander, canceled a scheduled visit by U.S. journalists and camera crews today .
Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Pietraopaoli, speaking from U.S. Atlantic Fleet headquarters in Norfolk, Va., said there were no serious injuries. He said the concertina wire was employed more as fencing than as barricades and that the Haitians threw boards across the razor-sharp wire and crossed unharmed.
“It’s only barely calm now,” the spokesman said. He said that 100 tents, each large enough to house 20 people, were destroyed in the Sunday melee.
Military officials attribute the disturbance to the Haitians’ frustration at having to wait at the camp while others determine their fate. A similar disturbance, less serious, occurred last week.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Monday reported that all those at the camp have been interviewed by Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors; 1,012 have been found to have “a plausible claim to asylum” in the United States; 20 have expressed a desire to return to Haiti.