Three Cubans for 5 Gitmo Prisoners: Proposal Floated by Uruguay President to Obama

From two Progreso Weekly articles published March 20 and 21

The negotiations between Uruguay and the U.S. “today are far from being closed,” said Uruguyan President Jose Mujica.
The negotiations between Uruguay and the USA “today are far from being closed,” said Uruguyan President Jose Mujica.  Photo: Progreso Weekly

HAVANA TIMES — President José Mujica of Uruguay confirmed Thursday (March 20) that Uruguay will shelter as “refugees” at least five detainees currently at the prison camp of the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mujica said he was responding to a request from President Obama.

The Uruguayan weekly Búsqueda said that US Secretary of State John Kerry personally phoned Mujica to thank him on Monday.

Mujica revealed on Friday (March 21) that, in exchange for granting shelter to detainees from the US Navy base, he asked the Obama administration to release three Cuban intelligence agents who have been in US prisons since their arrest in 1998 and conviction in 2001.

Mujica said that he based his decision to accept the Gitmo prisoners on his respect for human rights and told the local press that “they’ll come as refuges and Uruguay will give them a place [to live]. If they want to bring their families, that’ll be all right, as simple as that.”

“If they want to make their nest here and work here, they may stay in the country,” he added. The agreement is for the detainees to remain in Uruguay for at least two years, a government source told Agence France-Presse.

The Cubans whose release is being sought by Mujica are Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labañino. Hernández is serving two life terms plus 15 years; Guerrero, 21 years 10 months, and Labañino, 30 years.

Along with Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez (no relation) the three agents are known internationally as the Cuban Five. René and Fernando served out their terms and were released in October 2011 and February 2014 respectively. Both are now living in Cuba.

“We said that we would ask for something,” [in return for excepting the Gitmo prisoners] Mujica said on his radio program “The President Speaks.” “We don’t do this for money or material things, but we have no compunction in saying that we asked the United States government to please do everything possible to find the way to release those two or three Cuban prisoners who have been there for many years, because that, too, is a shame.”

Mujica said the negotiations between Uruguay and the US “are far from being closed,” adding “they depend, among other things, of various decisions out of our reach.”

According to the ANSA news agency, the first group of released detainees from Gitmo would consist of five Syrians and one Pakistani, who would be accepted by Uruguay as ordinary — not political — refugees.

The president said that “18 countries have already offered similar cooperation to help finish this shameful situation and 89 prisoners have already left or are leaving Guantánamo.”

“There are 120 guys who have been imprisoned for 13 years,” he said, while touring a farm fair in the city of Soriano, Uruguay. “They never saw a judge, they never saw a prosecutor, and the president of the United States wants to take that problem off his shoulders. The Senate is demanding certain things from him, so he asked a lot of countries if they could give refuge to some and I told him yes.”

12 thoughts on “Three Cubans for 5 Gitmo Prisoners: Proposal Floated by Uruguay President to Obama

  • March 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Looks are indeed deceiving:

    José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano (Spanish pronunciation: [xo?se mu?xika]; born 20 May 1935) has been President of Uruguay since 2010. A former guerrilla fighter in the early 1960s, he joined the newly formed Tupamaros movement, an armed political group inspired by the Cuban revolution.[5] The group killed, arsoned & bombed buildings and clubs, and kidnapped several foreign nationals and diplomats, robbed banks to raise funds, and killed police officials. He participated in the 1969 brief takeover of Pando, a town close to Montevideo, and was later convicted by a military tribunal under the government of Jorge Pacheco Areco, who had suspended certain constitutional guarantees.[6][7] Mujica was captured by the authorities on four occasions, and he was among those political prisoners who escaped Punta Carretas Prison in 1971.[8] He was eventually re-apprehended in 1972, and was shot by the police six times. After the military coup in 1973, he was transferred to a military prison. In all, he served 14 years. During the 1970s, this included being confined to the bottom of a well for more than two years.[9] During his time in prison, he remained in contact with other leaders of the Tupamaros, including Frente Amplio Senator Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro and the founder and leader of the Tupamaros, Raúl Sendic.

  • March 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Have you seen the video that Venezuelan legislator Maria Corina brought to the OAS? There are clearly government snipers being used against the protestors. While it is unclear who started the violence and who is behind its escalation, what is clear that the Maduro government (including Cuban intelligence agents) is not acting in the spirit of ‘crowd control’ but rather as hired murderers bent on punishing those who dare oppose the Maduro regime. Watch it for yourself.

  • March 23, 2014 at 10:01 am

    This is hardly peaceful street protests. This is violent rioting. Now I’m won’t be hypocritical and say that this is never justified. It sometimes is, but if you take part you have to take the consequences which is imprisonment.

  • March 23, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Peaceful street protests are an integral and necessary part of the democratic process. Especially useful for the minority group which lost at the polls to express their dissatisfaction and air their grievances. In doing so, they exercise the best strategy to attract attention to their side and hopefully grow their ranks to become a majority. One would think that an alleged anarchist like yourself would know and embrace public protests. The ugly truth is that an anarchist is just a totalitarian without power.

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