By Ignacio Coral on July 14, 2020
“To be a banker you must not have a soul,” said someone back in the 70’s of the last century – someone who ought to know since he had worked as a consultant to the Colombian bank Caja Agraria and was manager of the now-extinct Bank of Commerce in Valledupar, Colombia. That is precisely why he considered himself “the worst banker in the world.”
Be that as it may, the man who said it is a well-known economist from the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, a member of an ancient and honorable family of Valledupar, professor of Economic History at the Universidad Popular del Cesar, and a man leaning toward Marxist-Leninist theory, which led him to unite with other companions to create the Los Independientes group and later to join the Unión Patriótica. His full name: Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda.
This same Ricardo Palmera, as he is usually called, possessor of a great social conscience, inclined toward the most needy and with pure humanist thought, as his quoted phrase shows, decided to leave the struggle of the Unidad Patriótica (Patriotic Union Party) and take up the armed struggle; the political persecution and the genocide that this political party suffered left no other option to achieve the ideals of peace, social justice and defense of national sovereignty that he sought. So he arrived at the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), where he took the name of Simon Trinidad as a symbol of the same ideals extolled by the great South American Liberator, Simón Bolivar.
To continue, Simón Trinidad was captured in Quito Ecuador in January 2004. He was then brought to Colombia where he continued to be held prisoner until December 31 of that year, when he was extradited to the United States, in a violation of all the legal regulations concerning extradition. In the U.S., with false evidence and false witnesses, both provided by the Colombian government, he was sentenced to 60 years in a maximum-security prison.
Simón Trinidad, now close to 70, has been imprisoned in the Florence Colorado Federal Super Max Prison, built in the high desert, with a dehumanizing design that leads it to be referred to as “the Alcatraz of the Rockies.” According to a former warden, “this place was not designed with humanity in mind … in my opinion it’s far much worse than death.” In an underground cell, without sun, without any companionship, without books, magazines or television, without any diversions, without visitors, without needed medical or dental care, in a 7 by 12 foot concrete cell Simón Trinidad spends his life. Anyone else would have become insane by medical standards in less than two years of this. “He is an iron man,” writer Jorge Botero called him, mentally and spiritually unbreakable, and worthy of all our solidarity in the fight for the liberty he deserves.
It is criminal for the Colombian government to disregard the rights that this fellow-citizen has, and the rules that protect these rights. But why should we be surprised at this, when it was exactly the same government of former President Uribe that promoted this disgrace knowing full well that extradition does not apply in cases of political offenses, which were called for in the U.S. request of extradition of Simón Trinidad. Also, what makes Uribe’s wickedness even worse is the presumed collusion that he carried out to get the gang of false witnesses against Simón Trinidad, since the United States had no evidence at all to convict him, nor even anything to charge him with, since he had already been acquitted of their narco-trafficking charges.
Read with careful attention the following cable from WikiLeaks on January 2004, quoted by Liliany Obando in her work Simón Trinidad, A Trophy by Way of Extradition, in which the then-U.S. ambassador to Colombia William Wood says, “High ranking officials from the Colombian government, including President Uribe, have asked the United States to consider requesting the extradition of Palmera. Obviously, they prefer seeing him locked up in an American jail rather than prosecuted in the unreliable Colombian justice system. The request has a note of urgency on their part. However, Palmera does not face any criminal charges in the United States at the moment. The embassy is not aware of any pending investigation against this well-known narco-terrorist by official agencies in the US.”
This is one more infamous act among those that Uribe carries today in his bag.