Obama has a new friend

The populist movement in Latin America among countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina (as some examples) has greatly increased along with ill sentiment towards the United States. From this, new strategic relations with Russia’s Putin and business promoted by China have been formed.

However, despite the movement away from U.S. influence in the region, there is surprising openness and acceptance from an unexpected place: Uruguay. Uruguayan President Jose Mujica will be accepting U.S. detainees from Guantanamo. The detainees were arrested for alleged links to insurgent groups, although they were never charged. The detainees that are to be sent to Uruguay are four Syrians, one Tunisian and one Palestinian, according to El Comercio.

With Uruguay being the first nation to legalize the trade and selling of marijuana, is something clouding Mujica’s judgement? What irked him to make such an offer?

¿Por qué aceptó José Mujica recibir presos de Guantánamo?
Uruguayan President Mujica. Photo: Reuters

This year Mujica volunteered to give shelter to six prisoners from Guantanamo. The announcement was not only surprising to the citizens of Uruguay, but to the United States as well, since the only countries really making offers were those close to Washington.

In a radio broadcast last March, Mujica stated that the U.S. government reached out to the nation of Uruguay and asked if they would be willing to take in some of the refugees. Negotiations with the United States over the issue are “far from being closed,” Mujica commented.

“Mucho, mucho hemos criticado y seguiremos criticando al imperialismo yanqui, a sus abusos de poder, por acá y por allá”, acotó Mujica.

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“Much, much have we criticized and we will keep on criticizing to the Yankee imperialism, to its abuses of authority, here and over there”,  annotated Mujica.

In this statement, it is almost as if Mujica sees Guantanmo and its prisoners, as casualties of U.S. imperialism.

Mujica recognized that the current U.S. president has made and effort and based his campaign on “getting rid of that shame,” referencing to all the controversy of Guantanamo and to its captives.

The Uruguayan president also sees the acceptance of these prisoners as beneficial. Mujica reflected on the reactions and image of the country based on their acceptance of the prisoners:

Este pequeño Uruguay supo dar refugio (…) a los anarquistas perseguidos y expulsados por otros países, cuando decían que eran terribles terroristas, y acá les daban cobijo y trabajo, y vaya qué fruto le dieron al Uruguay”, recordó Mujica.

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This small Uruguay can be a refuge…to the persecuted anarchists that were driven out of their lands by other countries, when they [countries like the U.S.] said they were terrible terrorists, and here they were given shelter and work, and go giving their fruit [skills] to Uruguay,” recalled Mujica.

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