Armelle Nelson spent nearly a year at a squalid U.S. detention center in Cuba criticized as "an HIV prison camp." Now she's anxious to get on with her new life in the United States.

"I'll do whatever I need to survive in this country," said Nelson, who used to run a shop in Haiti and is now counting on help from Miami's large Haitian community to find work.On Monday, Nelson was one of 27 Haitian political refugees, including six children, who flew to freedom as the camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base began shutting down. Most of the adults carry HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Nelson, 38, will stay with her sister in Miami.

"I have a lot of people here behind me, and they'll be helping me and showing me the way," Nelson said through an interpreter.

Before boarding the Air Force C-130 in Guantanamo early Monday, several of the refugees spoke to reporters.

James Dieudonne, 12, said he was eager to go to school and happy to be leaving a place where he had nothing to do for 14 months.

His first priority is "to learn to play basketball," he said.

His favorite player? "Magic Johnson," Dieudonne said.

Bob Brutus spoke bitterly of his 20 months there.

"That ain't no camp. That's a jail," Brutus said. He plans to join his wife and infant son in New York, and get a job.

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On June 8, U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of New York ordered the Haitians released from the Guantanamo compound, which he called "an HIV prison camp."

The remaining 113 Haitians will be flown to the United States in the next 10 days, federal officials said.

Twelve of the 27 who arrived Monday will stay in Florida with relatives, 13 were flown to New York, and two will stay with family members in Boston and New Jersey.

Unlike tens of thousands of boat people forcibly returned to their homeland, the Haitians held at Guantanamo demonstrated to immigration officials they have a genuine fear of political persecution. Many were supporters of ousted civilian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

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