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Trial Begins for ‘Sonia’ - Colombian Revolutionary

by staff |
January 5, 2007
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Washington D.C. - Jury selection for Colombian revolutionary “Sonia” is scheduled to start here on Jan. 8, in front of Federal Court Judge Robertson. Sonia, whose full name is Anayibe Rojas Valderrama, is an important member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC is a 30,000-member guerrilla army that governs nearly 40% of Colombia.

Sonia, a combatant in Colombia’s civil war, was captured Nov. 10, 2004, in the southern mountains of Colombia, near Cartagena de Chaira. Since becoming a prisoner of war, Sonia has been shuffled around from Colombian military bases, to a Colombian navy ship, to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, to prison in the U.S. Sonia is no average prisoner and her case is not a normal criminal trial.

Sonia is being charge with drug crimes under U.S. laws, though she allegedly committed these crimes in Colombia. In a previous prison telephone interview with La Voz newspaper Sonia said, “I am not a narco-trafficker, I am a woman guerrilla fighter of the FARC.” She goes on to say “They want to extradite me for a crime which I did not commit. I am not a narco-trafficker. The big narco-traffickers are taking a walk in the streets, seated in the Congress of the Republic, and the highest positions of power. My only crime is that I rebelled against the violent, undemocratic and cruel state [of Colombia].”

“Sonia”, 39 years of age, is the daughter of hard working peasants and of her own free will joined the FARC at the end of the 1980’s. She says at the U.S. embassy they interrogated her, but she refused to answer. The U.S. embassy also offered to bring Sonia and her family to the U.S. and provide for them if she would inform on her friends and comrades in the FARC. She says the U.S. officials threatened “otherwise you will be extradited, locked up in darkroom and will have to spend many years without seeing your family.” So now, much like fellow FARC leader Ricardo Palmera, she is imprisoned in the U.S. and her trial begins on Monday, Jan. 8.

Ricardo Palmera won a big victory in his first trial in the U.S. when the jury could not agree on a verdict. Bush’s White House had sought to find Palmera and the FARC guilty of kidnapping U.S. mercenaries in Colombia. Judge Hogan was forced to declare a mistrial for Palmera and then Sonia’s case was transferred from Hogan’s courtroom to Robertson’s. Judge Hogan and the U.S. prosecutors are going to take a second crack at FARC peace negotiator Ricardo Palmera on March 26.

Tom Burke, spokesperson for the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera said, “Just like the extradition and trial of Ricardo Palmera, Sonia’s trial is completely out of bounds. The U.S. has no right to put Colombian revolutionaries on trial in the U.S. It is another form of intervention in the undeclared U.S. war in Colombia. The Bush White House is losing their war in Colombia. Plan Colombia is a total failure. Sonia’s trial reflects the desperation of U.S. foreign policy.”