Press Releases

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a resolution opposing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC-EP) requested release from U.S. custody of Colombian narco-terrorist “Simón Trinidad”, recognizing that such a release would embolden terrorist groups worldwide and undermine the U.S. judicial system. The resolution also extends sympathies to all families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the FARC-EP, including dozens killed this year.
 
“The Obama Administration has shown time and time again that it cannot be trusted when it comes to prisoner releases, especially when the president uses them as tools of diplomacy,” Rubio said. “The Senate must take a stand to preserve the integrity of the U.S. judicial system and make clear to this administration that it should reject any request to release convicted narco-terrorists like Simón Trinidad from U.S. custody.”
 
In a Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues hearing in May, John D. Feeley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told Rubio that the Colombian government had not asked for Trinidad to be released. However, in a subsequent interview with BBC HARDtalk, Sergio Jaramillo, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, said Trinidad’s release has been discussed with U.S. officials “at different and highest levels.” Rubio pointed out the contradiction later that month.
 
A PDF of the resolution, S.Res. 208, is available here, and the full text is below:
 
Title: Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the requested release of convicted terrorist Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, also known as “Simon Trinidad”, from prison in the United States as a part of the Colombian peace process.
 
Whereas the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Eje1rcito del Pueblo (FARC-EP) is a Marxist insurgency group engaged in a bloody civil war with the Government of Colombia;
 
Whereas FARC-EP has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State since 1997;
 
Whereas fighting between FARC-EP and the Government of Colombia has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including United States citizens, since 1964;
 
Whereas multiple FARC-EP terrorist have been indicted, captured, and extradited to the United States to face trial for their crimes against United States citizens;
 
Whereas Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, also known as “Simon Trinidad”, joined FARC in the 1980s and later became a rebel leader within the FARC-EP;
 
Whereas, on February 13, 2003, a small Cessna airplane carrying 5 people including a United States pilot named Thomas Janis, a Colombian national, Luis Cruz, and 3 other United States nationals, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes, crashed in Southern Colombia;
 
Whereas heavily armed FARC-EP guerrillas immediately surrounded the plane and brutally executed Thomas Janis and Luis Cruz, then took the other men hostage;
 
Whereas, on April 27, 2003, the FARC-EP issued a communique1 taking credit for the abduction of the three United States nationals, made demands in exchange for the release of the hostages, and appointed “Simon Trinidad” the spokesperson and negotiator for the FARC-EP;
 
Whereas “Simon Trinidad” was captured in Ecuador’s capital of Quito 8 months later on January 2, 2004;
 
Whereas “Simon Trinidad” was convicted by a court in Colombia for aggravated kidnapping and rebellion and sentenced to 35 years in prison on May 4, 2004;
 
Whereas “Simon Trinidad” was convicted by a United States jury of plotting to hold 3 United States nationals hostage after they were captured in Colombia, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison on January 28, 2008; and
 
Whereas FARC-EP has reportedly named “Simon Trinidad” a member of their Colombian peace negotiating team and made a request for President Barack Obama to release him: Now, therefore, be it
 
Resolved, That the Senate—
 
(1) opposes the FARC-EP’s requested release of Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, also known as “Simon Trinidad”, who was convicted by a United States jury of plotting to hold 3 United States nationals hostage after they were captured in Colombia, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison;
 
(2) extends deepest sympathies to all family members of the victims of FARC-EP atrocities; and
 
(3) recognizes this type of action would send a negative message to terrorists groups and undermines the United States judicial system.