An Anniversary of Shame: January 11

Of the 780 men and boys forcibly transferred to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, 39 remain. The prison was established on Jan. 11, 2001, as a place beyond the protections of U.S. law, to detain those suspected of involvement in the attacks on the U.S. on 9/11.  Most of the inmates were tortured in “black sites” in other countries and/or after arrival at Guantanamo.  Torture is forbidden under U.S. and international law.

Of those remaining, 27 have not been charged with any crime, and 13 of them have been cleared for transfer to other countries.  The remaining 12 have been charged with war crimes.  Of those, 10 are awaiting trial and two are serving sentences after conviction.  Trials by military commission were set up in 2001, but the procedures have been so confusing and contradictory and lacking in due process, that only two convictions in 20 years have been accomplished.

The many violations of human rights at Guantanamo Bay greatly undermine U.S. credibility as a defender of human rights and as a critic of other countries for their poor human rights records.  The prison is also a financial disaster, costing about $13 million per prisoner per year, about 167 times what it would cost if he were in a federal prison in the U.S.

President Biden promised to close Guantanamo, but only one prisoner has been transferred during his first year.  Here are possible steps to close Guantanamo permanently:

Congress must remove the restrictions for transferring detainees to the U.S. for trial.

The process of clearing prisoners for release must be accelerated.

Countries must be found which will accept released detainees with guarantees for security and their human rights.

For those charged with war crimes, plea deals could be reached for them to serve time in the U.S. or in other countries.

Guantanamo is a stain on U.S. values.  It must be closed without further delay.

Bob Pearson

Amnesty International 

Group 463 

Las Vegas


 

Building a multi-use recreational park at Storrie Lake

The past four years, on KFUN & KLVF radio, I have talked about creating a multi use recreational park at Storrie Lake, an economic asset for our town. Four years ago our Governor proposed investing millions into promoting New Mexico outdoor recreation world wide, calling it “a billion dollar industry.” She has signed bill 2, allocating $479 million, with $20 million to upgrade state parks.  Another $7 million in grants to boost the outdoor recreation industry. “NOTE” Read Optic stories, 12/24/21 Page #3 ‘(GOVERNOR SIGNS HOUSE BILL 2,) and page 10, (Recreation, signs of recovery in N. M.)  Our governor created the Outdoor Recreation Division, designating New Mexico, a national leader in Outdoor Recreation. If she invests millions into Outdoor Recreational in our State Parks, shouldn’t our community get it’s fair share?  Imagine a recreational park with a merry-go-round for kids, Volley, tennis and basketball courts. Shuffle board, horse shoe pitching, archery, a stage for music, poetry, and local history presentations. Grass area with beautiful landscaping.

Local students and from other schools would enjoy this facility. It would attract visitors to shop at local businesses to strengthen our economy.  I have contacted Senator Heinrich and Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez asking for their help, but they may not listen to me. The Storrie Lake Association and the state own the lake. We need their support. Let’s ask city & county elected officials to support this worthy project. There is a saying which I strongly believe and have applied to my life. It states, “If you can think it, if you can imagine it and you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.”

Joseph Baca

Las Vegas

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