Guantánamo

OAS head lauds ‘generous’ Uruguay; House intelligence chair expresses unease

Facade of the Military hospital in Montevideo on Dec. 7, 2014, where six released Guantánamo detainees were getting health exams.
Facade of the Military hospital in Montevideo on Dec. 7, 2014, where six released Guantánamo detainees were getting health exams. AFP/Getty Images

The head of the Organization of American States has issued a statement saluting Uruguay for agreeing to resettle six Guantánamo captives as the potential vanguard of future deals.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza on Sunday called the arrival over the weekend of six long ago cleared captives a “generous gesture that contributes to the solution of a human rights problem in our Hemisphere.”

In a statement, he singled out Uruguay’s current president, President José Mujíca, and his party successor, Tabare Vazquez, for praise.

In September, Insulza issued an appeal to member states to help the United States close the detention center by taking in cleared detainees. He reiterated it following the weekend transfer: “I hope this step by Uruguay opens the way for similar contributions from other countries in the Hemisphere.”

In the United States, the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee is criticizing those kinds of deals.

“I’ve been opposed to this notion that we are going to farm out Gitmo to places,” Rep. Mike Rogers said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

He noted the six men — four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian — were from “all over the rest of the world” and might not transition well to South American culture.

Also, he said that foreign intelligence agencies aren’t always properly equipped to monitor newly released detainees.

“What we have found in the past is it doesn't work very well,” he said, noting that detainees set free in the past “are now reengaged in the terrorist fight.”

The U.S. military airlifted the six captives, one of them prominent hunger striker, from the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba late Saturday. They arrived in Montevideo the next day, and were kept overnight at a military hospital for health evaluations.

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