[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.
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 , 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
“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
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