Colombia peace process moves forward
(Oct. 24, 2012) YOUR ACTION NEEDED!
An old, Bush-era tactic is impeding Colombia’s peace process. US extraditions of Colombian citizens are a violation of the nation’s sovereignty and interfere with negotiations to end it’s armed internal conflict. Of special concern is the imprisonment of Ricardo Palmera, aka Simón Trinidad, a key negotiator for the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). For eight years he has been held in solitary confinement at the Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado.
There had already been some discussion of Palmera’s participation in peace talks via video conference. On October 19, 2012, Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper reported the possibility that Palmera could be returned to Colombia, making participation a real possibility. The paper said that “…contacts with the United States government about this are very advanced, the theme going beyond intervention by virtual means or teleconference—as had been proposed by the Attorney General, Eduardo Montealegre, and the High Judiciary Council—and that the step that could be taken would be the repatriation of the guerrilla….And something more: Nayibe Rojas Cabrera, alias Sonia, Chief of Finances for the Southern Block…also could be repatriated.”
However, El Espectador cited a statement by Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs: “’It would have to be a discussion with the Government of Colombia that advances through proper channels”, she told the El Tiempo newspaper, without denying or confirming whether Washington will permit Trinidad’s repatriation.”
The Alliance for Global Justice calls on supporters of peace in Colombia to once again take action and CLICK HERE to send a letter to Sec. Jacobson and her staff urging the State Department and the Obama Administration to:
- Release Ricardo Palmera aka Simón Trinidad from the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado so that he can fulfill his role as one of the FARC’s three primary negotiators in peace talks.
- End the extradition of FARC insurgents to the US, a practice that directly interferes with the peace process and Colombian sovereignty.
- End the extradition of all Colombians, including members of paramilitary organizations, a practice used by the U.S. government to “white wash” leaders of death squads, interfering with ongoing investigations into connections between pro-government death squads and Colombian politicians.
- End the inhumane practice of solitary confinement for Ricardo Palmera, held in isolation for eight years, and the more than 81,000 inmates held under similar conditions in US prisons.
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS DEMAND TO BE INCLUDED IN PEACE PROCESS
by James Jordan
More than 300,000 Colombians in 25 departments took to the streets on October 12, 2012, to participate in a national strike and to demand the inclusion in peace negotiations of unions, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, the displaced, students, human rights groups and other elements of the social movements. This culminated a Week of Indignation called by the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica), the Congress of Peoples (Congreso de los Pueblos) and COMOSOC (Coalition of Social Movements and Organizations of Colombia), and endorsed by 116 grassroots organizations and 100 NGOs. The national strike called for peace with justice, an immediate cessation of hostilities (which the Colombian government has so far rejected), meaningful land reform, investment in health, education and infrastructure, participatory democracy as well as other concerns.
Speaking in a press conference before the strike, Former Senator Píedad Córdoba, a leader of the Patriotic March and founder of Colombians for Peace, said the strike “will be our expression of ‘Enough!’ to the neoliberal politics imposed by the dominant classes, who hope to stay on course with the aggressive legislative agenda…As a political and social movement of the common people, we declare our intention to actively link ourselves to the talks….We demand the direct participation of the [Patriotic] March and of the popular movement at the negotiation table. ”
Patriotic March spokesperson, David Flórez, added that, “We consider that if what is really desired is to advance a stable and durable peace, it must be allowed for the social and popular movements to bring their proposals to the tables of dialogue.”
On October 19, 2012, the Patriotic March released a statement saying , “…the talks are not simply for the guerrilla and the government. They belong to the Colombian people and must include all of society….The idea of a rapid peace, conceived with the mistaken supposition of a military defeat of the insurgents that must be affirmed at the table of dialogue and negotiation, in no way contributes to advancing on the road to a political solution to the armed and social conflict….
The Patriotic March calls equally to all the people of the world and Our America, especially the governments of the region, to offer their unrestricted support for the process that has been initiated. The political solution and peace with social justice in Colombia constitute an indisputable factor for the security and stability of the region, the recuperation of the national dignity and sovereignty, the rejection of all forms of foreign intervention, especially by the US, and the condition to advance and make real Bolívar’s dream to build a great and sovereign country.”
For the Alliance for Global Justice, it is clear what we must do as both internationalists and as a US based organization. In every visit we have made to Colombia, we have been asked three things: One, that we change our own government’s support for war and repression in Colombia; Two, that we come to Colombia and bring others with us to learn about what is really going on and to provide accompaniment for those targeted for repression; and, Three, that we take action to end the extraditions of Colombian citizens to US prisons because it directly impedes the pathway to a just peace and violates Colombian sovereignty.
For those who would like more information about our March 22-April 2, 2013 delegation to Colombia sponsored by the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-544-9355 ext. 3. You can also CLICK HERE for more info.