One Year in Prison: Letter from Julian Conrado to the People

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member and protest Julian Conrado singer sends a message from a year in prison after his capture by Venezuelan authorities in May 2011. The Colombian government has requested his extradition.


From my trench of dignity

Those of us who turn singing into a manifestation of love for the people, we’re always going to be hated by the enemies of the people. That’s why they insult us, slander us, persecute us, jail us, torture us, make us disappear, and kill us. However we express ourselves, this is what has always happened to those who, because of pure love for the people, struggle for their happiness.

But those who imprison a fighter for the love of the people should know that no one has ever been freer than Antonio Nariño in the Cartegena tombs and Francisco de Miranda in the Spanish empire jail [Translator: both were independence fighters], that no one has ever been freer than the five Cuban heroes, or Simon and Sonia [Colombian guerrillas] in the dungeons of North American imperialism, that no one has ever been freer than [Venezuelan communist singer] Ali Primera in the basements of the DIGEPOL [Venezuela’s Intelligence Service, under previous governments] or Hugo Chavez in the cells of the DIM, the Yare jail or the Orchila island.

Those who kill a fighter for the love of the people should know that no one has ever been so alive as Jesus, crucified on Mount Calvary, that no one has been more alive than Ernesto Che Guevara, shot in La Higuera [Bolivia], that no one has been more alive than Alfonso Cano, bombed in the Colombian mountains… Don’t the indignant of Spain feel Miguel Hernandez and Federico Garica Lorca?  Those Allende-ing in Chile don’t feel [the presence of] Victor Jara and Pablo Neruda?

Isn’t Ali Primera felt Bolivar-ing in Venezuela?

Sisters and brothers with dreams of peace with justice and love:

This 31 May marks a year since I became a prisoner on land of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Since my extradition to Colombia or the United States isn’t fair in any way, now the hairy hand of the oligarchy oppressor that strangles my country, regretting not having killed me the day of my capture, has invented a new plan that consists of killing me in prison.

I want the enemies of peace in my country to know that I am more than just a man, I’m a hymn of the poor of the land, a hymn that now, imprisoned, is sung more, is heard more, is danced to more… so what if they kill me?

But… how will they manage to kill a song that blooms in the heart of the people?

Sisters and brothers: despite my difficult physical problems and the uncomfortableness of imprisonment, morally, I feel fine; like a Guayacan [tree]! This metal and cement cage, I’ve converted it into an unyielding trench of dignity, from where I continue resisting and firing Bolivarian verses for the de-privatisation of the planet and its salvation, as well as for the freedom of the 99% of humanity – enslaved to the point of terror, by the heartless capitalist beast.

With a guitar full of red stars, that the young singer Ali Manaure brought me, visiting hours are a true party of fraternal revolutionary happiness. Here I’ve had the immense honour of singing with Gloria Martin, Lilia Vera, Chiche Manaure, Sol Musset de Primera, Amaranta Pérez, Sandino Primera, Lil Rodríguez, Centauro Saher, Oswaldo Mussett, the poet Neybis Bracho, Gino González, Víctor Moreno of the IVEN band, the poet Elí Briceño, Armando López, the journalists Indira Carpio and Ernesto Navarro, Luis Miguel Badaraco of the Cantera Collective, David Gómez “Lucerna”, Floridimar, the poet Carlos Angúlo, Carlos Ruíz, Tamanaco “tocapalma”, Sandino Márquez, Manuel Azuaje, the photographer Paz Capielo, Aura and Alfredo of Neruda Culture, the Argentine Gerardo “cumbia del sur”, Paula, Jhonalbert and Edwin of the R, who else?, Javier, Cira, Carlitos “comrade”, Daniela… the list peaks and grows longer.

But furthermore, from all the points of light of Venezuela, of Our America, they are sending me loving hugs of solidarity and manifesting their unconditional support to the movement for my freedom and political asylum.

My sisters and brothers,  thank you for so much love, but I ask you for more: I ask you from the bottom of my heart that you help the children of the people of the tormented Colombia to get out of the horrible night that we have been kept in for so many years, by the exploiting classes.

The struggle of the Colombian people is about to return to the light of sublime freedom!

We can’t stand seeing our flag trodden on by the invading military boat of imperialism. We want a national, patriotic, democratic, and Bolivarian government! We want reconciliation and national reconstruction, we want economic and ecological development with social justice, we want, finally, peace, with justice and love.

Now I remember, that night under rain of bombs and bullets… my companion and myself, we kissed. Don’t worry my love, I said, if they kill us, we’ll leave a beautiful example of dignity behind. She told me she thought the same. So then we hugged more strongly and we waited. But such a death didn’t come… surely it was scared of so much love. The same thing happened in the little town of Altamira de Caceres, that other night of terror on the 31 May 2011: Love again defeated parched death!

My people: From prison I send you a liberated hug! Dammit!

Loving, we overcome!

Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com