After more than two years of being imprisoned in a crude show trial, of suffering persecutions and threats to his life inside the prison, as also stalking and threats to his family, friends and lawyers, Miguel Ángel Beltrán, academic, sociologist and historian who was kidnapped in Mexico and handed over to Colombia where two years of a Kafkaesque process awaited him, has walked free. As Beltrán put it: “I consider that the attitude of branding everyone who investigates the social reality through a critical lens as a guerrilla comes from a State which persecutes and criminalizes those of us who think differently.
Precisely this is what happened to me and for this my academic writings have been taken as proof to accuse me of the crime of rebellion, which constitutes a clear persecution of critical thinking. The purpose of the regime in depriving me of my liberty, despite that the illegality of the proof was found out a long time ago, is to send a clear message to critical academics and the public university in general: ‘be careful in social and armed conflict from a perspective different to the official one: look at what can happen to you. Take care in thinking critically.’ And this, undoubtedly, has shut up some sectors of the university who have taken refuge in silence.”
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Vincenzo Gonzalez of the Colombia Peace Association states:“The new model imposed on Colombia’s prisons…has been designed to increase the repression and intimidation of those who are fighting for the rights of the people. With the new agreement, Colombian prisons have been turned into ‘theaters of military operation,’ where civil authority is subordinate to military and police authority and where universal and constitutional human rights are persistently violated.”
The Colombian Women Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War released a statement for International Women’s Day, 2009, that speaks poignantly about the new prisons: “…We denounce and reject…a policy of penitentiaries and jails following the dictates of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons, giving priority to the considerations of security, militarization and privatization of the establishments of incarceration. [We reject] the construction of the…penitentiaries… with the advice and funds of the Gringos.