The existence of the detention center that the United States maintains open at the Guantanamo naval base constitutes an anomaly that President Joe Biden should put an end to as soon as possible for reasons not only of minimum principles of legal certainty in any democracy, but also as a clear display of commitment to the defense of human rights that must protect any person who remains in the custody of a country that claims to defend them. Officially opened in January 2002 under the presidency of George W. Bush, five months after the 9/11 attacks and with the country already embarking on the war in Afghanistan, the prison has been a source of scandal inside and outside the United States. The United States, in that it actually means disregarding the obligation of a democracy to guarantee that all the people it detains and processes are subject to and protected both by its legal system and by international treaties. In this regard, the Guantanamo prison was born and continues to be an unacceptable legal limbo in the Western world, as well as an indisputable propaganda element in the hands of radical Islamism and critics of the United States.
Almost two decades have passed since its creation and no president – Republican or Democrat – has put an end to this situation. Bush (2001-2009) is responsible for its establishment, Barack Obama (2009-2017) promised to do so, but was met with opposition from Congress, and Donald Trump (2017-2021) ratified its existence in his first State of the Union. There are still 40 of the 780 inmates that the prison housed in the facilities. Now Biden, a former Obama vice president, can address the issue with Democratic control in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The closure of Guantanamo also transcends the legal fact itself. As 78 Latin American political, academic and diplomatic personalities calling for the closure of the prison rightly state in a letter addressed to Biden, this measure would send a significant message to the whole world and to Latin America in particular, where it is necessary to strengthen democracy and influence the need to respect human rights. After years of aggressive and disdainful discourse, Washington could become an influential and privileged interlocutor in a region that is being convulsed, in different situations and with different motivations, and where it is necessary to vindicate democratic institutions and respect for its laws as a method. of coexistence. Ideally, Biden would seize the opportunity to lead by example and close Guantanamo.