San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Guantanamo Bay

Costa Rica's Solís silent on accepting Guantánamo detainees

President Luis Guillermo Solís said he has not considered a request to accept detainees from the detention camp at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo, Cuba. The Organization of American States (OAS) is urging Latin American countries to accept detainees from the controversial detention facility.

Solís gave no firm answer either way on whether or not he was willing to accept any of the detainees.

“I’ve not considered the topic nor have I received a specific invitation from the secretary about the matter,” Solís told The Tico Times during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.

There are 149 inmates still at the prison on the eastern tip of Cuba, set up under former president George W. Bush after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. So far 79 prisoners have been approved for transfer, either to their home country or another country that agrees to take them, noted OAS chief Secretary General José Miguel Insulza in an official declaration published on the OAS site.

In a press release, Insulza requested that Latin American countries take on current detainees:

“I request respectfully that those countries that can do so, in a manner consistent with their national policies and their internal legal framework, consider receiving people currently detained in Guantánamo, in order to allow them to resume their lives following their prolonged detention.”

This is not the first time that the subject of receiving Guantánamo detainees has come up  in Costa Rica. The Laura Chinchilla administration (2010-2014) previously engaged in diplomatic talks with the United States about accepting Guantánamo detainees. Then-Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo told The Tico Times in an email:

There were conversations at the diplomatic level about the intentions of the government of the United States of America to complete the process of closing the Guantánamo Detention Center, to which Costa Rica explored the possibility to take one or several of the detainees from that center. However, Costa Rica ruled out this possibility even though it welcomes the efforts of the U.S. government to close the facility.

President Barack Obama notably declared that the detention center would be closed by the end of 2009, his first year in office.  But any efforts to transfer the detainees have stalled plans to close the facility.

So far, only Uruguay has agreed to take Guantánamo detainees, pledging to welcome six inmates, but the South American nation says no date for the transfer has been set. Chile has indicated it was considering taking in prisoners.

AFP contributed to this report.

Contact Zach Dyer at zdyer@ticotimes.net

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