Florence, CO - In the mountains of Colorado, 35 spirited protesters marched down Highway 67 to the guardhouse of the U.S. federal supermax prison in Florence on Sept. 21. In the lead were two Colombian American women, with banners reading, “Free Simon Trinidad! Peace for Colombia!” and “Libertad para Simon Trinidad! Paz por Colombia!”
“I’m here to support the Colombian peace process. I’m here to protest the U.S. prison system that is holding Simon Trinidad, and to denounce his being tortured in solitary confinement,” said Lilli Ana Castrillon.
Currently there are peace negotiations taking place in Havana between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government. With the peace process moving forward, the FARC is asking for Simon Trinidad to be released to help finish the negotiations.
“We are here to inform President Obama that Simon Trinidad is the key to the peace process in Colombia. Simon Trinidad has been in solitary confinement for 11 years now here in the U.S. He is needed at the peace table to finish the negotiations,” said Mark Burton, the lawyer representing Trinidad in the U.S.
Upon arriving at the Florence supermax guardhouse, the protesters crossed the highway to face the prison. With prison guards watching through binoculars and armed men a few hundred yards further up the highway towards the five visible supermax prison towers, the activists held up hand made signs saying, “President Obama, release Simon Trinidad.”
RCN, the main television network of Colombia, reported and interviewed a few of the people. Protesters chanted loudly so prisoners could hear inside the maximum-security prisons, “Free, free Simon! Peace for Colombia!” and “Libertad, libertad para Simon Trinidad”
“We are here from nine cities to demand President Obama free political prisoner Simon Trinidad from this underground supermax dungeon. Nobody deserves the torture of solitary confinement. It is a violation of their human rights,” said Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (Simon Trinidad) as he spoke to the crowd.
Burke continued, “The U.S. war in Colombia is a failure and we need to support the Colombian people as they seek peace. Let’s take this bold action outside the ‘Guantanamo of the Rockies’ back home and spread the word, ‘Free, free Simon! Peace for Colombia!’”
The protesters then marched back up the highway chanting, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, free Simon, free them all!” They also sang The Internationale before arriving back in the town of Florence.
Burke said, “This was a tremendous set of events for the anti-war and Colombia solidarity movements. We had a packed house last night in Denver, hosted by Al Frente de Lucha, then a spirited action today! Our next step will likely take us to the White House to demand freedom for Simon Trinidad.”
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), El Frente de Lucha of Denver, the Utah Anti-War Committee, Alliance for Global Justice from Tucson, and other groups built for the protest with the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (Simon Trinidad).