We have several important updates regarding Colombian political prisoner struggles. We are especially pleased to announce that there has been a victory at the Doña Juana penitentiary in La Dorada, Caldas, where 1,300 prisoners had engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience, including more than 176 hunger strikers, 18 who had sewn their lips shut. INPEC (Colombia’s Bureau of Prisons), government officials and the private health care provider that contracts with INPEC have agreed to maintain for two months an around the clock medical presence and to evaluate how that can be extended permanently. They also have agreed to conduct an investigation into the deaths of three inmates due to lack of medical attention this year. Thank you to all who sent emails and made phone calls on behalf of the hunger strikers. International solidarity was a key component in winning this victory. The actions you take really do matter!
Three important updates regarding political prisoners whose cases the Alliance for Global Justice has been following:
1) Click here for an important article on Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad, including a rare public statement to the outside world. This case has a particular impact on Colombia’s peace process. Trinidad is held in a Supermax prison in Colorado, one of more than 80,000 prisoners in the US subjected to the cruel and inhumane practice of solitary confinement.
- Send an email to Pres. Obama and the State Department demanding US support for the Colombian peace process, including an end to extraditions of Colombian prisoners to the US, and the participation of Ricardo Palmera/Simón Trinidad in negotiations.
- 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.
2) UPDATE ON GUILLERMO CANO. Don Guillermo is a leader of the FENSUAGRO agricultural workers union and the Human Rights Coordinator for its affiliate in the Department of Tolima, ASTRACATOL. His arrest was a clear attack on the peace process itself. Click here to read a revealing interview with Don Guillermo. Here is an excerpt:
“I want to make it clear primarily that I have been putting up with political persecution for many years on account of my defending human rights and workers and the working class….I am on the board of directors of Astracatol and belong also to the executive board of Fensuagro. That’s why they have been threatening me over many years….They invade the place where I live. They take me away. Then a helicopter arrives with the judiciary system police and they put me on the floor. They checked out my whole house….They only found things belonging to Patriotic March and to Astracatol. They took away none of these documents but they sure did study all of them. And it was then that they read an order of arrest against me….as someone associated with rebellion.”
3) Liliany Obando, former International Relations Coordinator for the Fensuagro agricultural workers federation, has been convicted in abstentia of “Rebellion”, and sentenced to 5 years and 8 months. Because she has already served 3 years and 8 months, she would have to serve about two more years. Charges that she was raising money for the guerrillas were dropped for lack of evidence. WATCH THE VIDEO “BEYOND THE WALLS” based on the writings and testimonies of Liliany Obando and other Colombian women political prisoners.