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Colombian Revolutionary on Trial

Palmera Stands Tall in D.C. Court

by Mick Kelly |
October 16, 2006
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Photo of protesters against the trial of Ricardo Palmera.
Photo of protesters against the trial of Ricardo Palmera.

Washington DC - Smiling at supporters with his fist in the air, Ricardo Palmera, a leading Colombian rebel was led from the courtroom by guards Oct. 12. Palmera, a negotiator and spokesperson for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was kidnapped and brought to the United States. He is now on trial in Federal Court.

According to Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera, “We put out a call to pack the courtroom and protest the unjust imprisonment of Palmera. He has devoted his entire life to freeing the Colombian people from poverty and oppression. Our picket line and press conference turned a spotlight on the travesty of justice taking place here today.”

The Latin American press extensively covered the picket line and press conference held outside the courthouse. News of the protest was covered live on Colombian radio stations and in advance by the country’s main news magazine. Coverage of the protest was carried in the Cuban press and on Venezuelan TV.

At the press conference, Kosta Harlan of the Colombian Action Network stated, “We are here today in solidarity with Ricardo Palmera. The United States is trampling on Colombian sovereignty by placing Palmera on trial in this kangaroo court. We believe the U.S. has no right to try Palmera - the Colombian people have the sovereign right to determine how they want to struggle.”

Harlan also noted, “The U.S. has spent over $5 billion of our tax dollars on Plan Colombia, mostly in military aid to the puppet government in Bogota. Plan Colombia is a plan for war, misery, and death. Americans should defend Palmera and other Colombians who have bravely fought against foreign domination and exploitation of their country.”

Kati Ketz, a member of Asheville, North Carolina’s SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) told the assembled press: “Plan Colombia, the plan for war in Colombia, is taking money that could be used for education here in the U.S. and giving it to Colombia so that students in universities there can be killed for being a political activist. Just last Saturday, Julian Hurtado was murdered by paramilitaries for being part of the Truth Commission investigating the murder of another student gunned down on campus last year. Meanwhile, tuition increases are at an astronomical rate in our public universities. Today, students from five different campuses are standing here in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Colombia. We are demanding an end to Plan Colombia and to free Ricardo Palmera now.”

After the press conference, Palmera supporters went to the fourth floor of the Federal Courthouse where the trial was scheduled to take place. Court officials claimed the courtroom was empty and nothing would occur there. After going through an additional security check, protesters entered the courtroom, where the trial was in the jury selection phase. Presiding Judge Hogan made it clear that he was aware of the protest that had taken place earlier that morning.

During his court appearance that day, Palmera was wearing a suit, was not manacled and apparently had the proceedings translated. In previous appearances, Palmera was brought to court in an orange jumpsuit and had to struggle with a Spanish-English dictionary, while wearing handcuffs, to follow the proceedings.

For further information on the case go to:
www.freericardopalmera.org

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