Washington D.C. - As the trial of Ricardo Palmera continues, a parade of corrupt officials and paid informants are passing through the federal courtroom here. With Judge Hogan looking on, Colonel Mora from the Colombian military took the stand. The Colombian military has the worst human rights record in Latin America. Now in its 42nd year, Colombia’s civil war pits the Colombian military against of the organization Palmera represented in peace negotiations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC.
The government-appointed defense lawyer never objected to Colonel Mora repeatedly calling Palmera a “terrorist.” Mora described a scene where a spy plane with U.S. mercenaries was downed by the FARC. A Colombian sergeant and a U.S. mercenary with Colombian National Police identification were shot dead. In war situations, spies are often executed, but this time the FARC decided to detain the three American mercenaries. This detention is the excuse the U.S. government gives for kidnapping Palmera from Colombia, then jailing and trying him. Everyone involved in the trial agrees that Palmera knew nothing of the American mercenaries until he heard it reported by news sources.
The next dramatic development came when the jury was startled awake by Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera standing tall and calmly declaring, “You are a liar!” to FBI agent Alejandro Barbeito. The FBI agent’s testimony is not credible. The FBI agent claims Palmera’s Colombian lawyer, Oscar Silva, agreed to an interrogation of Palmera without his presence. In an interview with Fight Back!, Oscar Silva refuted this claim.
Furthermore, the FBI agent claims Palmera was in Quito, Ecuador to negotiate with the family of a prominent politician detained by the FARC. This is what caused Palmera to speak out, because as a FARC negotiator, whether it be for peace talks or for prisoner exchanges with the Colombian government, he could never do side deals with a family. Palmera’s role is formal - he only negotiates with governments or the United Nations or other international bodies, not with family members. The FBI agent exposed himself with his testimony.
The most recent ‘witness’ is a paid informant of the corrupt Colombian government. There is an assumption that such witnesses are offered money, green cards to the U.S., housing and other deals in exchange for testifying against members of the FARC. The woman testified against Palmera. Washington lawyer Paul Wolf writes, “The defense had copies of three statements she gave to DAS (Colombian secret police) which described her history in great detail. Most interesting is that in her third statement, she mentions Ricardo Palmera for the first time, and claimed that he, along with an individual named Octavio had recruited her into the FARC as a girl. This statement was given just after Trinidad was taken into custody. She was called back from her new life in the reinsertion program to give this new statement. It contradicts her other two statements…”
The trial of Ricardo Palmera will continue with more informants, spies, military and government officials testifying. Meanwhile, Ricardo Palmera is held in solitary confinement, with no access to his family, friends or supporters; denied a defense lawyer of his choosing, and enduring endless hours of testimony from people motivated against him and his political beliefs.
In a letter from Palmera, which was snuck past his captors, he writes, “Others will make use of their physical freedom to achieve our dream. If this imprisonment is the price that must be paid for our ideals and the principles that have motivated the struggle and are the reason for our existence, then I welcome prison.”