Pérez Esquivel reply to President Obama
September 15, 2015
President of the United States of America
Mr. Barack H. Obama
Receive the fraternal greeting of Peace and Goodwill
Near the end of 2014, prior to the release of the study by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on “CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” 12 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates sent you a letter requesting the closure of all secret detention and torture centers of the United States around the world, of Guantanamo prison, and asking you to clarify to the world what policies will be adopted to comply with the international treaties, including the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
We have recently received your kind reply of acknowledgement as a fellow Laureate, expressing your intention to “bring that chapter of American history to an end,” which brings me to say the following:
As you know, many of the signatories to the letter are survivors of prison and torture. I was personally a victim of persecution, imprisonment and torture for safeguarding human rights against the Latin American dictatorships in the framework of the “Operation Condor,” financed and coordinated by the United States.
It was as a result of this collective struggle that the Nobel Prize was awarded to me in 1980, which I did not accept personally, but in the name of all the peoples of Latin America suffering the oppression of said dictatorships, and working to build peace.
The “School of the Americas” in Panama, now known as the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” and based in the U.S., was the American center that trained more than 60,000 Latin American military and police in techniques of torture, execution, kidnapping, and other violations of human rights, so they could later be applied and taught in their respective countries. Both the declassification of said manuals and recent documents presented by the Senate of your country on worldwide torture by the U.S. provide evidence of a systematic and consolidated national security policy that, as you have mentioned, “violate U.S. and international law, and offend human dignity”.
Therefore, I hopefully recognize your courage in accepting what most of your predecessors have not: that the United States violates human rights, and that the will of the President with the people and with other international actors is necessary, so that it will not occur Never Again -Nunca Más-.
To say that closing Guantanamo prison is a “national imperative,” and that what is undertaken there “weakens American national security,” is a sign that you seek a change of paradigm, which surely is most valuable.
All the Americas hope that this new age of reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the U.S., encouraged by the message of dialogue and understanding of Pope Francis, shall make the United States Congress reconsider shutting down this facility, as well as the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” and other various military bases of the United States in our region.
You can count on my assistance and support for these endeavors.
I wish you and your family, as well as to the North American people, much strength and hope, because we know that another world is possible.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
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