Why Is Former Guantánamo Prisoner On Hunger Strike In Uruguay?

Military personnel demonstrate procedures used on hunger strikers at Guantánamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba, August 20, 2014. (Damon Winter / The New York Times)

By Aisha Maniar for Truthout – Adapting to life after lengthy imprisonment and as a refugee in a strange land are challenges. Coupled with the trauma of years of torture and the stigma of Guantánamo, the challenge is colossal. Nearly two years after being released to Uruguay with five others in December 2014, Syrian refugee Jihad Ahmed Mustafa Dhiab, also known as Abu Wa’el Dhiab, 45, has faced all of these problems. Dhiab spent more than 12 years at Guantánamo after he was sold to the US military by the Pakistani police in 2002.

A Chill Wind From The North: The US Returns To Latin America

US Imperialism

By Vijay Prashad for the Hindu and Counterpunch. The financial crisis of 2007-08 dented China’s economy and saw the slow deterioration of commodity prices. It took a few years for the economic impact to strike Latin America with ferocity. A sharp tumble in oil prices in the summer of 2008 put the brakes on many of the social programmes that had become essential to the Bolivarian dynamic. It signalled the weakness in the experiment against Western domination. President Barack Obama’s administration focussed intently on Latin America. Opportunity struck with the 2009 coup in Honduras against the Left-wing government of Manuel Zelaya. Mr. Obama recognised the new military-backed government. It opened the door to a more aggressive stance vis-à-vis Latin American states. The presidency of Peru’s Ollanta Humala (2011) and the second presidency of Chile’s Michelle Bachelet (2014) — both ostensibly of the Left — hastily drew in cabinet members vetted by the bankers and made their peace with the hegemony of the U.S. Chávez’s death in 2012 meant that the Bolivarians lost their most charismatic champion. The impact of the Honduran coup and Chávez’s death had made itself felt along the spine of Latin America. The U.S., it was being said, is back.

José Mujica, Former President Of Uruguay: What Makes Us Human?

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José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, is one of the most interesting presidents in recent memory. He was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. He was a former urban guerrilla fighter with the Tupamaros in the 1960s and the 70s, a group inspired by the Cuban Revolution. In total Mujica was captured by the authorities on four occasions. He was among the more than 100 Tupamaros who escaped Punta Carretas Prison in September 1971 by digging a tunnel from inside the prison that opened up at the living room of a nearby home. Mujica was re-captured less than a month after escaping, but escaped Punta Carretas once more in April 1972. On that occasion he and about a dozen other escapees fled riding improvised wheeled planks down the tunnel dug by Tupamaros from outside the prison.

Uruguay Withdraws From TISA, Symbolic Blow To Trade Deal

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By Glyn Moody in Tech Dirt – Techdirt first mentioned the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) last year, when “The Really Good Friends of Services” — the self-chosen name for about 20 members of the World Trade Organization — could no longer keep their plans locked behind closed doors, and word started to spread. Essentially, TISA completes the unholy trinity of global trade agreements that also includes TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. Between the three of them, they sew up just about every aspect of trade in both goods and services — the latter being TISA’s particular focus. They share a common desire to liberalize trade as much as possible, and to prevent national governments from imposing constraints on corporate activity around the world. One particularly blatant reflection of this desire is the inclusion of something called the “ratchet clause.”

When Bolivia Tried To Murder A US Folk Legend

Philip Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, humor and progressive views. | Photo: Creative Commons  This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:  http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/When-Bolivia-Tried-to-Murder-a-US-Folk-Legend-20150409-0021.html. If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

His name was Victor Jara, and not only did he have the popularity of Presley and the political passion of Che, he also had the topical-folk style of Phil himself. But Víctor was part of something much more powerful than the Greenwich Village folk scene — Nueva Cancion. Rising alongside and within the social movements of Latin America, Nueva Cancion was political, personal, revolutionary, and exciting. Realizing their similarities, Víctor invited Phil to perform alongside him that evening for a group of students and workers in the copper mines a few hours drive from the city. Phil had come to Chile to find hope. At the time, the region was bursting with it. In Chile, Salvador Allende had become the first democratically elected socialist president in the world, and had begun restructuring the country’s economy to benefit the poor and dispossessed.

OAS Election Indicates Waning US Influence In Latin America

Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Raul Morales, center right, congratulates Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro, center left, following Almagro's election as the OAS Secretary General, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Washington, during The Forty-Ninth Special Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson) The Associated Press

Today’s election of Luis Almagro as the new Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) is “another indication of declining U.S. influence in Latin America,” Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrotsaid today. As foreign minister of Uruguay from 2010—2015, Almagro was involved in strengthening regional integration through organizations such as the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Almagro finished the race unopposed, but he previously had been running against the former foreign minister of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein. Stein received the backing of countries such as Honduras, Panama and the Dominican Republic prior to withdrawing his candidacy, while Almagro received strong support from South American nations, including Colombia.

Freed Guantánamo Detainees Adjust To Life In Uruguay

The six freed Guantánamo detainees line up to hold a Uruguayan baby. In this picture, Tunisian Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy holds up the infant while Syrian Ali Hussein Muhammed Shaaban watches. Credit: Diana Cariboni/IPS

The group of four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian is still bound by the silence imposed by Washington regarding their experiences in the prison. IPS met with them for the second time Dec. 30 in the house where the Syrians are living in downtown Montevideo. A few are already speaking some Spanish and struggling to adjust to their new reality. Contacts with relatives have been established and the men are now looking for ways to reunite with their families, with the support of the Uruguayan government. After the shock of liberation, the six men are still struggling to fully understand where they are and to match as much as possible their beliefs and expectations for a new life with Uruguay’s social norms. Difficult, but necessary, is to reconcile the diverse social and political expectations and interests surrounding the group since the government of José Mujica decided to host them as refugees on humanitarian grounds.

10 Reasons to Love Uruguay’s President José Mujica

José Mujica of Uruguay

President José Mujica of Uruguay, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla who spent 14 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, recently visited the United States to meet with President Obama and speak at a variety of venues. He told Obama that Americans should smoke less and learn more languages. He lectured a roomful of businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of redistributing wealth and raising workers’ salaries. He told students at American University that there are no “just wars.” Whatever the audience, he spoke extemporaneously and with such brutal honesty that it was hard not to love the guy. Here are 10 reasons you, too, should love President Mujica. Mujica’s influence goes far beyond that of the leader of a tiny country of only 3 million people. In a world hungry for alternatives, the innovations that he and his colleagues are championing have put Uruguay on the map as one of the world’s most exciting experiments in creative, progressive governance.

Uruguay Agrees To Take Five Guantánamo Prisoners

The interior of an unoccupied cell showing standard issue clothing given to prisoners is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay

Uruguay has agreed with the United States to accept some prisoners held in the much-criticized detention center at the U.S. military base of Guantanamo Bay, President Jose Mujica said on Thursday. The South American country had accepted the request by Washington to take some prisoners and would consider them refugees, Mujica told journalists while attending an unrelated farming event. “It’s a request for human rights reasons,” Mujica said. Mujica said Obama “has asked a bunch of countries if they can take some and I told him yes.” “They are coming as refugees and there will be a place for them in Uruguay if they want to bring their families,” said Mujica, who spent 14 years in prison before and during his country’s 1973-1985 dictatorship. U.S. officials confirmed that talks about Guantanamo had taken place with Uruguay, but would not give more details. “The U.S. government maintains high level conversations with the Uruguayan government on various global affairs,” the U.S. embassy in Montevideo said in a statement. “One of those has been the closure of Guantanamo, one of the Obama administration’s priorities for its humanitarian implications.”

At the UN, A Latin American Rebellion

Dilma Rousseffof Brazil addresses UN General Assembly Photo Norway UN Flickr

Without a doubt, the 68th UN General Assembly will be remembered as a watershed. Nations reached an agreement on control of chemical weapons that could avoid a global war in Syria. The volatile stalemate on the Iran nuclear program came a step closer to diplomacy. What failed to make the headlines, however, could have the longest-term significance of all: the Latin American rebellion. For Latin American leaders, this year’s UN general debate became a forum for widespread dissent and anger at U.S. policies that seek to control a hemisphere that has clear aspirations for greater independence. In a region long considered the United States’ primary zone of influence, Washington’s relations with many Latin American nations have gone from bad to worse under the Bush II and Obama administrations.

S. American States Recall Ambassadors Over Bolivian Plane Incident

Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela

“What the United States government is seeking is to obstruct Edward Snowden’s bid to seek asylum. Not to get asylum, but to seek asylum,” Tatchell said. “It has bullied and threatened and menaced other countries around the world to not grant him asylum and to not grant airspace so that a flight can take him to another country. That is a direct attack upon the United Nations’ refugee conventions, and it is shocking and appalling that a supposedly democratic government, in collusion with European governments – including the government in Britain – has been conspiring to not allow Mr. Snowden to make a valid asylum application.”