Ricardo Palmera, better known as Simon Trinidad is a top commander of Colombia's largest insurgent group, the FARC. He was captured in a hospital in Ecuador's Capital, Quito, while seeking medical assistance.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, received last weekend a serious strike, when one of its top leaders, Simon Trinidad was Saturday arrested in a clinic of Quito, Ecuador's Capital, when seeking medical care. Trinidad, a Harvard educated leftist insurgent was responsible for the finances of the group and is accussed by Colombia's justice of dozens of hijackings and terrorist attacks.
According to reports from the United States, Colombian and Ecuadorian police acted on US intelligence to arrest the highest- ranking member of the leftist group ever captured. "Long live the FARC," Trinidad shouted to local media as he was led under heavy guard to a helicopter for deportation to Colombia, where he faces more than 20 charges ranging from murder to kidnapping to rebellion.
Local observers said Trinidad's detention represents a psychological victory for the Colombian government, which in nearly 40 years of fighting has necer captured or killed a member of the ruling council of the FARC. His capture also fulfills one of the primary goals of hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who won office in 2002 on promises of stepping up the battle against leftist rebels. Uribe's hard-line has been widely criticised by opposition leaders, the United Nations and different Human Rights organizations due to the lack of dialogue with rebels.
Trinidad headed in 2000 and 2001 negotiations with the administration of former president Andres Pastrana, who failed in reaching at least a minimum consensus. "With perseverance and patience, the work will continue until we completely dismantle terrorism," Uribe said in an interview from his private house, where he is on vacation.
Ricardo Galan, Uribe's spokesman, said the United States supplied the information to arrest Trinidad. Galan declined to specify what kind of information had been supplied. Until Sunday, Washington has not stated its vie on the facts. However, it is clear that Trinidad's arrest is a victory for the United States, increasingly involved in the conflict since begun training Colombian military to target guerrilla commanders and providing with full intelligence reports on their movements.
Trinidad was responsible for overseeing FARC finances, which income is estimated in $300 million. He obtained a degree in economics at a public university in Colombia and then studied in the United States. When he returned to Colombia, joined the FARC and in 1998, when the FARC began peace negotiations with the Colombian government, Trinidad was one of seven negotiators for the rebel group.