Uruguay's Mujica: Guantanamo turned inmates 'halfway into vegetables'

The men were locked up for more than a dozen years at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba before they were brought to Montevideo

Uruguay's Mujica: Guantanamo turned inmates 'halfway into vegetables'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Six former Guantanamo Bay prisoners sent to Uruguay as part of a push by President Barack Obama to close the U.S. military's prison camp in Cuba were "turned halfway into vegetables" during their detention, outgoing President Jose Mujica said on Wednesday.

In an interview four days before his predecessor Tabare Vazquez takes office, Mujica said the six men lacked the strength to learn Spanish and integrate.

"These people are destroyed," Mujica said. "They could be here for two years and they won't understand a goddamn thing, because even though you want to teach them Spanish, they lack the inner strength, the will to move on with their lives. They have been turned halfway into vegetables."

Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla who was himself jailed during a 1973-85 military dictatorship, has called Guantanamo Bay a "human disgrace."

The six were flown to the South American country for resettlement in December.

One, Jihad Diyab, spent much of his final two years at Guantanamo on hunger strike being force fed, and now suffers sharp back pains which he puts down to his treatment.

The men who are housed in an old property in the centre of the coastal capital, Montevideo, have yet to find work or be reunited with their families as they struggle to adapt to their new lives in exile.

"They need to recuperate," said Mujica. "But I don't know if they will."

Mujica is one of Latin America's most popular leaders due to his straight-talking style and empathy with the country's poor. A former Marxist rebel, he spurned the presidential palace and stayed in his ramshackle farmhouse on the edge of Montevideo. He has driven himself around in a battered VW Beetle and donated most of his president's salary to charity.

Some opposition lawmakers have opposed the resettlement plan from the beginning, but one legislator, Sen. Ope Pasquet of the Colorado Party, defended the men.

"The Guantanamo six were jailed for more than 10 years in dreadful conditions," he wrote on his Twitter account. "The psychological damage must be terrible. Making them work now? Premature."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Şubat 2015, 11:48