SANTIAGO – In France, Ricardo Palma Salamanca and his partner have been granted political asylum. Salamanca escaped Chile in 1996, after he had murdered the senator Jaime Guzmán five years earlier. The Chilean government had requested extradition of Salamanca.
The decision to grant Salamanca with asylum came as a surprise for members of the political party Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI), who called the action of the French government a “lack of respect for our country”, The president of the UDI, Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, told Cooperativa, that grant asylum to Salamanca was “absolutely surprising and completely outrageous”.
The Chilean government had requested France to extradite Salamanca, who has been convicted for kidnapping, murder and escaping a high security prison. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the French ambassador in Chile, Roland Dubertrand, has been summoned to give further explanations.
Who was Ricardo Palma Salamanca?
Salamanca joined the Communist Youth of Chile in 1985 and became one of the leading figures in the Patriotic Front Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR), also known as El Frente, in the next five years. The FMPR was a paramilitary organization tied to the Communist Party who violently opposed the military dictatorship of Pinochet.
During the nineties, Salamanca was reportedly involved in killing a police officer, an army sergeant and kidnapping Christian Edwards, son of the owner of El Mercurio. During the dictatorship, El Mercurio had close links with the military dictatorship. But the most famous murder committed by Salamanca is the murder of Jaime Guzmán.
Murder of Jaime Guzmán
Jaime Guzmán was the ideologist behind the military dictatorship and a close advisor to Pinochet himself. The Chilean senator founded the UDI and was involved in forming the new Chilean Constitution in 1980.
On April 1, 1991, in front of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, where Guzmán taught Law, he was shot various times and died hours later. One year later, Salamanca got arrested for his involvement in the violence committed by the FMPR. He was sentenced to three times life in prison.
Escape from prison
Serving his sentence in the High Security Prison of Santiago, Salamanca escaped on December 30, 1996. Three members of the FMPR landed with a helicopter in the yard of the prison and took Salamanca with them. He fled to Mexico, while in Chile he became the most wanted man in the country. Later he would move to France, where he got arrested in February. Chile requested extradition, but the French government decided to release Salamanca and now grant him political asylum.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.