FARC requests Presence of Guerilla Leader serving 60 Years Sentence in USA as Catalyst for Peace Talks
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) After a 24 hours break in the peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia Peoples´ Army (FARC-EP) and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba, peace talks resumed with commander Jesus Santrich requesting the presence of Simon Trinidad as a catalyst for toward a solid peace agreement. Simon Trinidad is serving a 60 years prison sentence in the USA.
Even though the Colombian government last month rejected to join a unilaterally declared cease-fire of the FARC, after which the FARC ended its unilateral cease-fire, and although the situation seemed tense, the peace talks have continued and progress is being made.
When the peace talks resumed at the Havana Conference Center after an 24 hour recess, the FARC commander Jesus Santrich stated, that there is an urgent need for Simon Trinidad to be present at the Havana Conference Center to facilitate the dialog and for increasing the chance of finally reaching a solid accord that could secure a lasting peace.
Although Simon Trinidad is part of the FARC delegation, his participation is being hampered due to the fact that he is serving a 60 year prison sentence in the USA. The Columbian government extradited Trinidad to the USA in 2004.
FARC commander Santrich criticized the government for not having done what it could do to enable Trinidad to come to Havana and for the conditions under which Trinidad is being held in the USA. Simon Trinidad is, according to Santrich being held under inhumane conditions in an US prison. Santrich reiterated that Trinidad´s situation has to change, that the Colombian government should stop obstructing the presence of Trinidad at the peace talks, and that the government should be taking into account that he would be a catalyst for peace.
Conditions in US High Security prisons are known to be inhumane. Many renown human rights organizations as well as internationally renown human rights and criminal lawyers are criticizing the US prison systems for regularly occurring abuse that amounts to torture.
Many high-profile prisoners are spending years on end in almost total isolation. The use of violence, fixation, pepper spray against inmates who are locked up in their cells and who are defenseless, harsh punitive measures, forced medication and abuse of administrative measures against prisoners are known for being endemic in US-prisons.
The FARC also called for the Colombian government to approve of public oversight of Colombian prisons, emphasizing that conditions in some prisons and for some prisoners are inhumane or even fatal. Also Columbia is being criticized by human rights organizations and internationally renown lawyers, who state that human rights abuses, amounting to torture are endemic in Colombian prisons.
FARC commander Santrich reiteration, that the presence of Trinidad would facilitate peace and his reiteration of the prison conditions, signal that the FARC cannot enter a compromise with the Colombian government in order to reach a solid peace agreement, if the compromise would be reached by compromising their prisoners safety and rights, as well as their solidarity with fellow FARC members.