Doral

Protesters demand Guantánamo be shut down in march to Southcom

On the left, protester Annette Quintero of Miami walks with her hands in chains. On the 13th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities, about 60 people walked to U.S. Southern Command demanding the prison’s closure.
On the left, protester Annette Quintero of Miami walks with her hands in chains. On the 13th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities, about 60 people walked to U.S. Southern Command demanding the prison’s closure. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Arms and legs shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, Annette Quintero marched through Doral on Sunday as part of a protest to shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

“This is less than a mile walk,” the 36-year-old from Miami said as about 60 people neared their destination, the U.S. Southern Command complex. “It’s a small price to pay. Prisoners there are tortured every day.”

Organizers put together Sunday’s protest to mark the 13th year since the first war-on-terror detainees were sent to the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. South Florida protesters from Occupy Miami, People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism and Racism took part in the march.

The prison now holds 127 captives, 59 of them cleared for release. Of the original 20 men taken to the prison Jan. 11, 2002, eight remain and five of them are approved for transfer.

Cassia Laham, 25, of Pembroke Pines and one of the organizers, said the protest was meant to “put public pressure” on President Barack Obama and Congress.

“There is no place for torture,” she said. “Other countries don’t want to be allies with a country that is openly torturing innocent people.”

Chanting slogans including, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Guantanamo Bay has got to go,” and “End the torture, end the shame,” the group made its way from the busy intersection of Northwest 87th Avenue and 36th Street to Southcom at 9301 NW 33rd St. The protesters gathered outside the gates, holding signs and giving speeches.

“We respect the rights of all people to express their opinions and beliefs,” Southcom spokeswoman Army Col. Lisa Garcia said Sunday. “U.S. Southern Command remains actively engaged with our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance security and promote greater cooperation between Western Hemisphere military forces.”

Among those protesting was Nicolas “Sandy” Davies, 60, of North Miami, who has been attending protests every Jan. 11. He said “Guantánamo is an outrage.”

“Our country is committing a horrible war crime,” he said. “The problem is we have exasperated the problem that we claim to be trying to deal with.”

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