Uruguay to Accept Five Prisoners From Guantanamo

Uruguayan present, who himself was a political prisoner in the 1970s, says Uruguay "would not be their jailer."

Photo Credit: avarand / Shutterstock

Yesterday, President José Mujica of Uruguay announced to Uruguayan press that he would accept a request from President Obama to receive five inmates from Guantánamo Bay. 

“It’s a human rights issue,” said President Mujica. “There are 120 guys who have been prisoners 13 years that haven’t seen a judge, prosecutor, anybody. The president of the U.S. wants to get rid of this problem.” The weekly Uruguayan magazine Busqueda reported that under the conditions of the agreement, the former prisoners would have to remain within the South American country for two years.

US ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso denied to Montevideo's "El Espectador" radio show that the deal was done, stating, "That's not correct. We're consulting and in conversation, but there is no deal to make a process like this in Uruguay." She described the five detainees as “non dangerous for the Uruguayan society."

Since Obama took office, the United States has resettled 43 detainees in 17 countries and released 38 to their homelands. Still, 154 remain imprisoned at the facility. 

Mujica's imprisonment of 13 years in the 1970s and 80s may make him a sympathetic recipient of the prisoners. "...If inmates of Guantanamo want to make their nests in Uruguay, they can do it," he said, adding that he "would not be their jailer."
Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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