MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — President Tabare Vazquez said Wednesday that the demands of a former Guantanamo detainee who is on a hunger strike exceed Uruguay’s capacity to deliver.
Abu Wa’el Dhiab has not been eating for more than a month trying to pressure the government into letting him join his wife and children in Turkey or in another nation. He agreed to start drinking water late Monday to give the government more time to offer him a proposal to leave Uruguay.
Vazquez said at a news conference that Uruguay’s foreign minister would meet with officials from the U.S. State Department, but he reiterated that the solution is not up to his government.
“The Uruguayan government is doing everything possible,” Vazquez said. “But as I’ve said in the past: If the countries where the Syrian citizen wants to go don’t take him, we can’t do anything about it.”
Christian Mirza, the government’s liaison with Dhiab and five other ex-Guantanamo detainees resettled in Uruguay, has said that Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar have rejected taking Dhiab.
Dhiab has been vocal about his unhappiness in Uruguay. Shortly after his arrival in 2014, he turned up in neighboring Argentina and denounced the U.S. failure to close Guantanamo. He has also protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo. In July, he set off alarms when he vanished for several weeks, before turning up in Venezuela, which sent him back to Uruguay.
Dhiab briefly fell into a coma last week and has been hospitalized twice.
The 45-year-old Syrian was released from the U.S. base in Cuba in December 2014, but could not return to his homeland due to the civil war there. He was detained for 12 years as an enemy combatant with suspected ties to militants but was never charged. While at Guantanamo, he staged a lengthy hunger strike and frequently clashed with guards during his protest.