Ex-prisoners of Guantanamo now walk our streets. We've taken in immigrants with strong ties to terrorism, whose potential danger was reiterated by the Americans, whom we now relieve of their mess and shame.
The operation certainly wasn't widely applauded here. However, it should in truth be seen as a success for President Mujica, who was sensible enough to see the prisoners as "savable souls."
That they were held for a decade or more as objects in the Cuban island enclave, without going through the judicial process, was a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution and the rights of man.
I insist: I'm talking about the rights of man, in the sense of the Latin word that includes both genders. I'm not saying "human rights" because what is human is not an adjective but a noun in the discussion of rights, as these rights are born and embedded in "the man of flesh and bone; the man who is born, suffers, and dies—above all, who dies; the man who eats and drinks and plays and sleeps and thinks and wills; the man who is seen and heard; the brother, the real brother," as Unamuno puts it.
What happened at Guantanamo is plainly condemnable anywhere on the entire planet, but particularly here in Uruguay, where we all hold in our souls the constitutional rule of "24 hours and a judge." In this particular case, these people's rights were violated even during their transfer "for the whole flight, eight or nine hours, handcuffed, their ears and eyes covered," illustrating how the degrading practices continued even after the report documenting the CIA-approved torture under Bush was presented to the U.S. Senate. And it says a lot that Obama, making good very late on his repeated promises to close the ominous prison, is trying to push into a remote past all the wrongs that were prolonged under his administration for six years ... and those that continue with the 134 prisoners that he still has nowhere to put.
Uruguay entered into an agreement with the White House through a lengthy, diplomatic negotiation. Today these six human beings are on our soil and so we ought to look forward instead of backward: We opened the door to these Syrians knowing that they could have been put on trial if the U.S. government had had the valor to bring them before an impartial judge, as any human being deserves, instead of closing Guantanamo and leaving presumed terrorists turned victims scattered around.
As a result, we find ourselves with the same old feeling that it was truly the people who made Uruguay. We open the doors to forgiveness and hope, virtues that come from the very seeds of life and are much more than creations of society or linguistic constructs.
Alright now. If it is humanely acceptable that we give refuge to these ex-prisoners and even bypass current immigration rules for them, how is it legally acceptable to oppress and jail our fellow countrymen of advanced age — Juan Carlos Blanco, Dalmao and others — for crimes committed 30-40 years ago?
Or don't sentiments and the law cohere to one other?