Sources: Haitian Refugees Could Go to GitmoJanuary 13, 2010 - 12:30 PM | by: Mike Levine
per Mike Levine and Justin Fishel
Haitians left homeless or without food and water by Tuesday’s major earthquake may be sent to live temporarily at Guantanamo Bay, according to two Defense Department officials.
Military planners are considering housing Haitian refugees at the Naval base in Cuba, the officials told FOX News.
“We are certainly keeping that option open,” one official said. “Of course no final determinations have been made as the military is still in its ‘assessment’ mode.”
Guantanamo Bay has a long history of housing refugees from the Caribbean, particularly Haitian refugees.
In 1991, after a military coup ignited a violent power struggle in Haiti, more than 30,000 Haitian refugees passed through Guantanamo Bay, according to GlobalSecurity.org.
If refugees from Tuesday’s earthquake are brought to Guantanamo Bay, they would likely be housed at Camp Justice, where reporters and other visitors have stayed when covering the military trials of terror suspects.
Camp Justice is about a half-hour drive, across the base and over densely forested hills, from where terror suspects are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Asked at an afternoon press briefing whether Guantanamo Bay is under consideration to house Haitian refugees or detain Haitian criminals, a top military official told reporters the naval base is a possibility.
“It’s a resource that’s available if we need to take advantage of it for various reasons,” said Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command. “So we’re looking across the region to just understand what the possibilites are there.”
In recent months, military officials at the base have said that – after the detention facilities are closed as President Obama has promised – Camp Justice might still remain so that refugees from the Caribbean could be housed there if necessary.
After Tuesday’s earthquake, the U.S. Coast Guard brought four Americans, who were working at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, to Guantanamo Bay.
“They required medical evacuation,” a Coast Guard spokesman said. “We were able to get a helicopter in there, and they were medically evacuated from the embassy to Gitmo.”
The spokesman said the Americans were evacuated to Guantanamo Bay due to its proximity to Haiti.