[Ppnews] “I can’t even write to the judges” – Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad, Colombian Prisoner of War in US Supermax Prison

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 2 12:23:47 EDT 2013

  “I can’t even write to the judges” – Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad,
  Colombian Prisoner of War in US Supermax Prison

    August 2, 2013

by Hernán Camacho, for the Colombian newspaper, Voz (La Verdad del Pueblo)

It was December, 2004 when President Álvaro Uribe authorized the 
extradition of the man born in the Valle del Cacique de Upar, capital of 
the Department of Cesar, cradle of Vallenato music, who was known in 
that city as Ricardo Palmera Pineda, Professor of Economics, banker and 
politician. From a traditional family, of ample means, well-connected to 
Colombia’s Caribbean political class, he was used to listening to the 
sounds of accordions in parties that would last until dawn. This was the 
life of Palmera before joining the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces 
of Colombia-People’s Army).

Simón Trinidad [the name Palmera adopted as a member of the FARC-EP] was 
chosen as an envoy and negotiator of this guerrilla army in the peace 
dialogues in Havana, Cuba because of his profound knowledge of the 
regional and national economy, his political capacity and boldness, in 
addition to his experience as a negotiator in the Caguán peace process 
[1999 – 2002]. Today Simón Trinidad passes his hours in the federal 
prison of Florence, Colorado (United States), with only one hour of 
sunlight per day, and only one authorized visitor, his brother, Alix 
Pineda de Palmera. He is a political prisoner held in unjust captivity.

      Strong character

VOZ obtained an exclusive recording in which Simón Trinidad denounced 
the flagrant violation of his rights as a Colombian in foreign 
territory, but above all, as a human being. The words of Trinidad were 
taken this past March, 11^th [2013], and are the fruit of one of only 
four “confidential” meetings with his Colombian legal defender. He made 
an urgent call to the [Colombian] government’s delegation of negotiators 
that they intercede on behalf of his immediate repatriation [so that he 
may] apply himself to the tasks of being a negotiator and envoy.

VOS transcribes the words of [Trinidad] one of the three [Colombian] 
insurgents extradited to the “Country to the North”:

“I want you to hear me in Havana. This is a denunciation before the 
national and international press concerning what is being done to me. I 
have 14 judgments and they do not let me speak, they do not let me send 
documents, I cannot talk with anyone, they do not let me write a letter. 
I have no guarantee to the right of a defense and the government 
delegation in Havana should know that.”

None of his claims have been heard, his lawyers in the U.S. have 
preferred to distance themselves from his defense and to be the least 
diligent possible for fear of being accused as collaborators with 
international terrorism.


“I asked to speak with the International Committee of the Red Cross four 
years ago and they have not even permitted me this. I want you to know 
this—I told this to my lawyer in Colombia, Ramiro Orjuela, with whom I 
have only been able to speak four times in nine years of incarceration 
during the 126 legal processes in Colombia”, Trinidad eagerly 
reiterated, because the prison guards seek to interfere in the 
communication he does sustain.

Communication with the outside world has not been easy for Trinidad 
since he is denied reading, writing and visits. In fact, as opposed to 
his mother, only [ex-Colombian Senator and founder of Colombians for 
Peace] Piedad Córdoba has been able to visit during his extradition and 
for only three quarters of an hour, with a restricted vigilance.

To denounce the violations against his person and his dignity from 
within the maximum security jail is an admirable deed.

In Trinidad’s opportunity of confidentiality with his lawyer, he [the 
lawyer] asked him what is the most complicated part for him in 
exercising his defense, and without hesitation he responded: “That I 
have no defense, Ramiro—in practice I have no defense. To speak with you 
10 or 15 minutes is not sufficient, and they do not permit me to send 
documents nor to write the judges, where I might be able to prove my 
innocence.” At this moment of the conversation, in an abrupt manner the 
communication was terminated, having lasted one minute and thirty 
seconds. “It’s been two years that I have not even been able to see him 
via teleconference. It is vile”, points out Orjuela.

      Without due process

In 24 of the 126 legal processes, judges and attorneys of the Republic 
of Colombia have judged in favor of Simón Trinidad, demonstrating the 
absence of responsibility in the accusations he has against him—reasons 
difficult to explain by the Colombian authorities. In words of his 
defense, the absence of criteria makes it so that whatever armed action 
of the guerrillas occurs, they ascribe [responsibility] to him, 
suggesting that he is part of the FARC-EP Secretariat, “and this is 
certainly not so”.

VOZ knows of two unique manuscripts that he undoubtedly authored, and 
that show the substantive judicial inconsistencies applied to the 
processes against him. At the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, 
letters to the Attorney General of the time, Vivian Morales, are plain 
proof of the violation of due process.

That instance in making her listen, at least it yielded the result that 
a year later, the Ministry of Justice sent a petition to the Gringo 
Bureau of Prisons and solicited, with the accustomed submissiveness, 
that they might permit him to attend programmed video conferences 
without chains that locked his hands to his waist. “It caused permanent 
anguish to see him that way, since with a distracted movement on his 
part, he would receive electric shocks. Now at least I can see his 
hands”, said Orjuela in a state of indignation it was impossible to hide.

The country and the peace do not need this. The FARC-EP’s peace 
delegation in Havana makes daily calls for his [Trinidad's] presence. 
This is no complete negotiation without the opinions of Simón Trinidad. 
“With him, he holds the country in his head’, reiterates Orjuela to VOZ.

The man who almost never sees the sun continues raising his voice 
against the injustice of his confinement. The times of the banker and 
the insurgent must not pass unnoticed in the political history of the 
country, neither in the hopes for peace for a new Colombia. A person 
whose testimony of life is capable of tempting the literary pen of Gabo 
[Gabriel García Márquez] is a Colombian with a conviction for peace 
tested by fire.

*For more background on Ricardo Palmera’s/Simón Trinidad’s case as well 
as the extraditions of Colombians that interfere with the country’s 
peace process, click here. 

*Send an email to Pres. Obama and the State Department demanding US 
support for the Colombian peace process, including the end of the 
extraditions and the participation of Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad in 

*Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad is one of the more than 80,000 prisoners 
in the US subjected to solitary confinement.  Click here to learn more 
about prisoner hunger strikers in California who are demanding an end to 
this inhumane practice–a practice which clearly constitutes torture. 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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