Locked behind a steel door in a tiny cell of America’s most formidable prison, inmate number 27896-016 follows the development of far-away peace negotiations between the Colombian government and leftist Farc rebels with keen interest.
As government and rebel negotiators meeting in Havana come closer to a final agreement to end more than half century of war in Colombia, Ricardo Palmera has a particular stake in the outcome: if the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have their way, he will be one of the signatories to that accord.
Despite being in solitary confinement behind the high walls and barbed wire of the Florence SuperMax prison high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Palmera has become a point of honour for the Farc in the negotiations.
Since the start of the peace talks in November 2012, the guerrillas have demanded Palmera, known to them as “Simon Trinidad”, be part of the process, standing a life-size cut-out of him beside them in the first rounds of negotiations. They have since tamped down their public demand for Palmera but sources close to the negotiations say they continue to quietly insist the United States release him.
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