MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay’s Jose Mujica reaffirmed Friday in an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama the South American country’s willingness to accept six detainees from the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.
Mujica, who met with Obama at the White House in May, said he extended the offer for “inescapable humanitarian reasons.”
Media reports said Friday the Guantanamo prisoners would arrive in Uruguay next week.
“We have offered hospitality to human beings suffering an atrocious abduction in Guantanamo,” Mujica said.
Montevideo newspaper El Pais reported Friday that six of the Guantanamo prisoners will arrive late Monday or early Tuesday and they will be taken to the Armed Forces Hospital for a medical examination.
Hospital sources told Efe they had no information and the Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.
“Since the time of our independence, and even before, individuals and sometimes large groups of people have come to this country seeking refuge from international wars, civil wars, tyranny, religious and racial persecution, poverty and also destitution,” Mujica wrote.
The Uruguayan president also asked Washington to release three Cuban spies in custody since 1998 and a Puerto Rican independence activist jailed for over 30 years.
“We are certain that these still unmet demands would open wide paths toward peace, understanding, progress and wellbeing for all peoples in that key area of our America,” he said.
Mujica’s decision to accept some of the Guantanamo prisoners has been criticized by opposition parties and, according to a poll released in October, is opposed by 58 percent of the public.
Because of the controversy Mujica postponed his action until after the Nov. 30 vote that gave his political comrade in arms, former President Tabare Vazquez, a victory.