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Committee to Free Jailed FARC Leader is Formed

by Mick Kelly |
February 2, 2005
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Chicago, IL - "It's a crime that the U.S. government has jailed a man who has dedicated his entire life to fighting for the liberation of the Colombian people," said Tom Burke of the newly formed National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera. Palmera, a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is being held in a prison near Washington D.C. The FARC is a rebel army that has fought for 40-plus years to rid Colombia of exploitation, oppression and foreign domination. The FARC now controls more than 40% of the countryside.

A statement from the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera notes, "Ricardo Palmera has been uprooted from Colombia, extradited to the United States and imprisoned as part of the Pentagon's counter-insurgency war. Ricardo Palmera is the latest victim of the Bush administration's so-called 'war on terror,' an unending war that respects no national boundaries and leads to repression and death around the world. We ask all people who stand for peace with justice, who uphold international law, who support democracy and who know right from wrong to demand the immediate release of Ricardo Palmera."

On the specifics of the case, the National Committee says, "It is absurd that the U.S. government has extradited Mr. Palmera on the basis of hostage taking and providing material support to terrorists. The specifics of the charge concern U.S.-contracted mercenaries who were shot down in their plane over FARC territory. A firefight ensued in which one U.S. mercenary and a Colombian sergeant were killed, while three U.S. mercenaries were captured. The U.S. Justice Department is trying to claim that this small battle in Colombia's civil war amounts to hostage taking, and that the long-running guerrilla war is now a 'terrorist action!' This makes a mockery of international law, as Bush attempts to impose U.S. sovereignty in Colombia."

The Committee is urging all progressives to support the campaign to free Palmera. "One of Latin America's most important leftists is now sitting in a U.S. jail. Everyone who is against injustice and who wants to oppose the imperial arrogance of the Bush administration should join us in the effort."

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