My visit with Liliany Obando, a political prisoner in Colombia

Hello Friends,

I am in Bogota, Colombia working as a human rights observer, visiting the Colombian FENSUAGRO farm workers union leader Liliany Obando who has been in the high security section of the Buen Pastor women’s prison for over 3 years.

I got in to see Liliany in the women’s prison last Saturday. Lilianys son Camilo accompanied me (she is a single mother). He is now 18 so he can visit every Saturday. Unfortunately her 8 year old daughter Laura can only visit once a month, which is a very sore point with all the prisoners with kids and is a rather cruel punishment. Children under 3 stay with their mother´s in prison and then are taken away and get only one 4 hour visit a month until they are 18.

During my visit the guards were cooperative and friendly. During my last visit in March 2010 the guards threw me out because they had suddenly changed the rules on the documents I needed. This time I breezed through the entry process but as usual I was x-rayed, scanned, gone over with a wand, frisked twice (once by a women), fingerprinted twice, had my shoes disassembled and sniffed by a drug dog. I almost didn’t get in as the authorities once again changed the rules and now require a specific photo but fortunately the local lawyers group LAZO quickly obtained this for me.

Liliany seems to be in very good spirits even though she is now in an even higher (the highest?) security cell block. It is only 60 by 30 feet and has no daylight, even the yard is enclosed. At one point I commented to her that the heavy rain they are having is terrible. She replied that she enjoyed it when it rained hard, as then she can hear it falling on her cell block roof, giving her contact with the outdoors. Not being able to see the sun, feel the rain or even a breeze is a terrible added punishment.

As there are only 27 other prisoners in her new cell block it is less crowded then her previous cell block, but she is now in with very dangerous common criminals, right-wing paramilitary prisoners and rich drug dealing prisoners who despise her and would likely kill her if they had a chance, which might be the authorities’ plan. She has only one companera in the cell block and so spends almost all of her time in her own cell. She is trying to politically organise these new fellow prisoners, as she did in patio 6, which is likely why they moved her, but it appears to be a hard job. Since she left cell block 6 the new warden has clamped down on her friends there and taken away rights Liliany had sucessfully won there. Most of the prisoners in her new cell block 7 want to cooperate with the guards to make thier own lives easier.

Her accomodations are better then in Patio 6, as she has a bit bigger room with a tv, a bathroom and only one room mate, but now the bunks are concrete slabs with a thin foam mattress. The patio 7 cells are locked down at 7PM so it really limits her political organising. Typically for Liliany, she challenged the “head” prisoner, who is in charge of the cell block, because she was cooperating with the guards too much. So Liliany has lost her TV privledges controlled by this prisoner overseer. Lili also pulled down her book shelves which somehow were controlled by this prisoner and threw them back to her, so she needs new ones (we are working on that).

Liliany says that she is getting absolutely no visitors from Colombian unions or activists. Like my last visits, it appears everyone, other then the brave LAZO lawyers, are scared to come close to her due to fears of right-wing retaliation. She has almost run out of legal options, with a final Supreme Court appeal coming soon that, if lost, could leave just waiting for her trial to end. Everyone else who was arrested using the “magic” FARC computer information has had their trials thrown out due to this evidence being compromised or bogus, except for Liliany. It appears that the government knows the evidence will not convict her so they are simply delaying her trial by not holding any trial dates. She has been in prison for over 40 monthes so they are simply punishing her without a trial. Political pressure would seem to be the only hope. I will hopefully get in to visit her these next two Saturdays.

Her kids, Camilo and Laura, appear to be doing better then the last time I saw them. Camilo is in university studying to be a journalist and Laura is in grade two.

If anyone would like to send Liliany a letter, please write to her at:

Liliany Obando,
TD- 065593, Patio 7,
Reclusion de Mujeres, Buena Pastor,
Cra.47, No. 84-25,
Bogota, Colombia

More information at FreeLiliany.net.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] political prisoner Liliany Obando has been ordered freed by a Colombian judge (see My Visit with Liliany Obando).  Likely due to the international pressure that was applied during last weekend’s […]

    Reply

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