U.S. activists say: ‘Free Simon Trinidad & Sonia!’
Published Feb 10, 2008 5:59 PM
On Jan. 28, Simón Trinidad, peace negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army, was sentenced in a United States federal court to an unprecedented 60 years in prison. This trial had been, from the very beginning, an attempt by both U.S. and Colombian governments to further demonize and penalize the Colombian insurgency.

The International Action Center participated, along with other groups, in a press conference in front of the Washington, D.C., federal court where the hearing was to be held later that morning.

The following is the IAC statement that was read in English and Spanish and was broadcast by Telesur and Colombian media.

A humanitarian exchange is the road for the start of negotiations between the Colombian government and the insurgency, which could lead to the road to peace that the people of Colombia demand and deserve.

Simón Trinidad and Sonia should be part of this exchange and the United States government, for a change, should ally with the forces that want to bring peace.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government supports, encourages and aids the parts that want war at the cost of millions of lives of Colombians. Let us not forget that it was the U.S. government ... who gave the idea and the order for the formation of the criminal paramilitaries back in 1962, under the Kennedy administration, when U.S. Commander General Yarborough of the Special Warfare Center led a team to Colombia.

In his report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff he wrote: “[A] concerted country team effort should be made now to select civilian and military personnel for clandestine training in resistance operations in case they are needed later. This should be done with a view toward development of a civil and military structure for exploitation in the event the Colombian internal security system deteriorates further. This structure should be used to pressure toward reforms known to be needed, perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and as necessary execute paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents. It should be backed by the United States.”

In 1991, under the Bush Senior administration, the U.S. State Department put Colombian President Álvaro Uribe as number 82 on the list of drug traffickers, listing him as a drug trafficker and assassin, friend of Pablo Escobar. However, now he is the U.S.’s closest ally in Latin America. This is criminal hypocrisy on the part of the government, meant only to satisfy its own self-interests in the region now that the peoples of Latin America are determined to not be a neocolony or the “backyard” of the United States.

We call on all people who love justice and peace to oppose the criminal U.S. policy against Colombia and demand that Simón Trinidad and Sonia be freed and be included in the humanitarian exchange that Senator Piedad Córdoba and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez have so successfully initiated.

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