At AfGJ we support Prisoners of US Empire by campaigning for their freedom, both because it’s essential to take care of our own, but also because calling attention to emblematic cases highlights the repression that activists face by the United States government, even in other countries.
What is US Empire? As Noam Chomsky puts it, it’s an “integrated policy of US military and economic supremacy” that functions to exploit the world. Prisoners of US Empire are political prisoners who have been incarcerated because of their activities for liberation from and/or resistance to US empire, or because they are for some reason or other considered obstacles to US empire and its designs. Their activities may be characterized as anti-war and anti-militarist, pro-democracy, anti-nuclear, ecological, whistleblower and journalist, First Nations Liberation, Puerto Rican liberation, and more.
There are many Prisoners of US Empire in mainland United States and around the world. These are some of the Prisoners of US Empire in whose campaigns for freedom AfGJ participates:
Edwin Robelo Espinal
Edwin was detained on Trumped up charges in January 2018. Honduras has been the site of large demonstrations due to the November 26, 2017 presidential election that Honduran popular movements and international observers have widely denounced as rigged. Edwin has a long history advocating against the Honduran government that came into power as the result of a right-wing coup in 2009. He is a staunch defender of the Honduran people’s human and voting rights. Because of this history, he has been the target of threats and intimidation by state security forces and of slander in the media. He has been receiving protective measures since July 2010, when they were requested by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. Espinal has been framed on charges of arson and property destruction during a January 12, 2018 protest in Tegucigalpa.
According to Victoria Cervantes, member of the Honduras Solidarity Network and the AfGJ Board of Directors, “Edwin Espinal Robelo is a well-known activist since the 2009 coup; part of the motorcycle riders that have escorted all the protests since then and a community organizer activist in his neighborhood in Tegucigalpa. His fiancée, Wendy Avila was killed by the massive tear gas attack against protesters supporting President Zelaya’s return to Honduras in front of the Brazilian Embassy in September 2009. He has been harassed, detained, threatened, had his home arbitrarily searched, and been the target of numerous social media slanderous campaigns organized by the government and its hired trolls.”
Simón Trinidad, aka Ricardo Palmera, is a long-time leader of mass movements for social change, and was a top negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). He was arrested in 2004 in Ecuador in the process of negotiating with the UN for their release of FARC prisoners. He was then extradited to the U.S. on charges of narco-trafficking and kidnapping and subjected to four separate trials due to the difficulty the prosecution had in securing a conviction. A Colombian government spokesperson told the Alliance for Global Justice in April 2015 that the repatriation of Trinidad to Colombia is key to the success of the peace talks between FARC-EP and the Colombian Government. So far, the US government has refused to pardon him. Learn more at http://freericardopalmera.org.
Jesús Santrich is an artist, poet, musician, and author who was also one of the most involved negotiators of the peace accords between the Colombian government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). The FARC-EP has been transformed into the new and legal political party, the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC). Santrich was supposed to enter the Colombian Congress, a fact that many on the right could not abide, and is also a member of the Commission of Follow-up, Impulse and Verification to the Implementation (CSIVI) to the accords The Peace Accords include provisions that would exempt former insurgent leaders from extradition out of the country for activities that were undertaken as a part of the then-insurgency. This is a provision that is typical of similar accords, such as those that ended the civil war in Northern Ireland. The set-up and extradition demanded by the US is a carefully orchestrated attempt to circumvent the accords and put all the negotiators and leadership of the former FARC-EP at risk of arrest and confinement in the United States. The case against Santrich is a cynical fabrication with no other purpose than to break the accords and to intimidate Colombia’s Left and all those who hunger for peace. To learn more….