The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Sunday, May 24, 2015


This is the stuff of which mystery book plots are made!  My last post talked about former president Jose Mujica of Uruguay and his having facilitated the “immigration” of six former Guantanamo detainees to their “new home” in Uruguay.  Now, let me give you a few of the details.

Last December (2014) six prisoners held for 12 years at Guantanamo Bay were sent to Uruguay, where they were to be resettled as refugees.  This was a deal that had been in the works for a long time once we identified a country willing to take them.  It is part of President Obama’s overall strategy to finally close Guantanamo Bay prison once all of the detainees are resettled, deported, tried for their accused crimes, or otherwise offered alternatives to the limbo of indefinite incarceration without trial.   There was, of course, political opposition to accepting these individuals in Uruguay, but President Mujica’s view eventually prevailed.


The six men — four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian — are the first prisoners that have been transferred to South America from Guantanamo.  All of them had been captured as suspected militants with ties to al-Qaeda in 2002 but none of them were ever charged with a crime or brought to trial. They were eventually cleared for release in 2009, but there wasn’t any place to send them.  In the six years since we have continued to encounter difficulties finding countries willing to take them.

Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica finally agreed to accept the men as a humanitarian gesture. He promised they would be given help getting established in Uruguay, a country with a population of 3.3 million and a total Muslim population in the hundreds of people.

According to friends of mine in Uruguay, all has not gone smoothly for the refugees, who seem to be having problems becoming assimilated into the local culture.  They have been in the news a great deal, as this was a major political issue for Mujica in the recent elections.  They have had trouble finding jobs, do not seem to fit in well in Uruguayan society, and are portrayed in the media as having a sense of entitlement rather than a good work ethic.  I don’t know if any of them speak Spanish.

Uruguay also has accepted 42 Syrian civil war refugees, who arrived in October, 2014, and has said it will take about 80 more.

The U.S. has transferred 19 prisoners out of Guantanamo this year, bringing the total number of prisoners still at Guantanamo to 136 — the lowest number since 2002.  The U.S. now holds 67 men at Guantanamo who have been cleared for release or transfer but can't go home because they might face persecution, a lack of security or some other reason.

[My source for this article was Yahoo News.  The research and descriptions are theirs; I've paraphrased and edited the text.]

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