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Ricardo Palmera Braves More Phony Charges

by staff |
August 27, 2007
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Woman talking on bullhorn
Protesters outside the trial of Ricardo Palmera on August 20 (Fight Back! News)

Washington D.C. - Protesters from eight U.S. states gathered here at the start of a new trial for Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera, Aug. 20. The protesters chanted, “Free Ricardo Palmera! Stop Plan Colombia!” and “The people of Colombia are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!” The activists then proceeded into the Washington D.C. Federal Court building.

Inside the spacious ceremonial courtroom, under the historical portraits of U.S. Supreme Court judges, the solidarity activists waved, held clenched fists in the air and smiled to Ricardo Palmera as he entered. Professor Palmera raised his clenched fist and then held his open hands over his heart - once again happy to see his American and Colombian supporters. Judge Royce Lamberth read the charges against Professor Palmera and instructed the jury pool of nearly 100 people. The charges accuse Ricardo Palmera, a leading peace negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), of producing and trafficking five kilograms or more of cocaine to the U.S.

Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera was at the opening day of the trial and said, “The U.S. government has no right to put Ricardo Palmera on trial. This trial is ridiculous. Putting the FARC on trial for drug trafficking is the same as looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The evidence simply does not exist. The U.S. government can only insinuate or fabricate the evidence.”

Burke continued, “Palmera is a good man who has done nothing wrong. He is fighting for social justice and the liberation of the Colombian people from solitary confinement in a U.S. prison. President Bush is desperate because of growing public concern about lying, cheating and corruption. Now the truth is coming out about Colombian President Uribe’s ties to narco-traffickers and paramilitary death squads. Bush is backing the wrong side in Colombia’s civil war. Bush is behind the bad guys and the drug traffickers.”

Angela Denio, also of the National Committee and a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said, “We were happy to see Ricardo Palmera and hope he is successful in defending himself and can sway the jury through his testimony again. The tragedy here is that paid professional liars and drug traffickers looking for lighter sentences will be given more time to testify than Professor Palmera. The Bush administration is criminalizing the fight for freedom and justice. People around the world are watching the travesty of Palmera’s trial. In his other trials, Palmera was not allowed witnesses and the judge and prosecutor limited what Palmera could say. The only fair trial is no trial. We demand Professor Palmera’s immediate release.”

Professor Palmera’s first U.S. trial on terrorism and kidnapping charges ended with a hung jury and Judge Hogan declared a mistrial.

Afterwards, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. Prosecutor Ken Kohl and was forced to step down. Judge Royce Lambert replaced Hogan on the bench and presided over Palmera’s second trial. Palmera won a victory of sorts again when the jury could not agree on four counts against him, including ‘terrorism’ and kidnapping charges. However, the Bush administration got what it wanted because the jury found Palmera guilty of belonging to a ‘conspiracy to kidnap’ referring to his membership in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The FARC is a 28,000-member rebel army that controls wide areas of Colombia, where it acts as the de facto government. The FARC plans to overthrow the corrupt U.S.-backed government, distribute land to the peasants, replace drug crops with food crops and end foreign corporate domination of the economy by empowering working people to run things.

The FARC wants the workers and peasants to rule instead of foreign corporations, rich landlords and drug traffickers. Professor Palmera joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia back in 1989, following the extermination of his fellow Patriotic Union (a political party) members by the Colombian state and its death squads. Over 4000 Patriotic Union members were murdered - including two presidential candidates, eight congressmen, 70 councilmen, dozens of deputies and mayors, hundreds of trade unionists, communist and peasant leaders, students and youth. Professor Palmera, in his dedication to building a just and peaceful society, joined the FARC when all avenues to reform were closed. Today, Ricardo Palmera continues his fight for the Colombian people and the oppressed and exploited everywhere.Washington D.C. - Protesters from eight U.S. states gathered here at the start of a new trial for Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera, Aug. 20. The protesters chanted, “Free Ricardo Palmera! Stop Plan Colombia!” and “The people of Colombia are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!” The activists then proceeded into the Washington D.C. Federal Court building.

Inside the spacious ceremonial courtroom, under the historical portraits of U.S. Supreme Court judges, the solidarity activists waved, held clenched fists in the air and smiled to Ricardo Palmera as he entered. Professor Palmera raised his clenched fist and then held his open hands over his heart - once again happy to see his American and Colombian supporters. Judge Royce Lamberth read the charges against Professor Palmera and instructed the jury pool of nearly 100 people. The charges accuse Ricardo Palmera, a leading peace negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), of producing and trafficking five kilograms or more of cocaine to the U.S.

Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera was at the opening day of the trial and said, “The U.S. government has no right to put Ricardo Palmera on trial. This trial is ridiculous. Putting the FARC on trial for drug trafficking is the same as looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The evidence simply does not exist. The U.S. government can only insinuate or fabricate the evidence.”

Burke continued, “Palmera is a good man who has done nothing wrong. He is fighting for social justice and the liberation of the Colombian people from solitary confinement in a U.S. prison. President Bush is desperate because of growing public concern about lying, cheating and corruption. Now the truth is coming out about Colombian President Uribe’s ties to narco-traffickers and paramilitary death squads. Bush is backing the wrong side in Colombia’s civil war. Bush is behind the bad guys and the drug traffickers.”

Angela Denio, also of the National Committee and a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said, “We were happy to see Ricardo Palmera and hope he is successful in defending himself and can sway the jury through his testimony again. The tragedy here is that paid professional liars and drug traffickers looking for lighter sentences will be given more time to testify than Professor Palmera. The Bush administration is criminalizing the fight for freedom and justice. People around the world are watching the travesty of Palmera’s trial. In his other trials, Palmera was not allowed witnesses and the judge and prosecutor limited what Palmera could say. The only fair trial is no trial. We demand Professor Palmera’s immediate release.”

Professor Palmera’s first U.S. trial on terrorism and kidnapping charges ended with a hung jury and Judge Hogan declared a mistrial.

Afterwards, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. Prosecutor Ken Kohl and was forced to step down. Judge Royce Lambert replaced Hogan on the bench and presided over Palmera’s second trial. Palmera won a victory of sorts again when the jury could not agree on four counts against him, including ‘terrorism’ and kidnapping charges. However, the Bush administration got what it wanted because the jury found Palmera guilty of belonging to a ‘conspiracy to kidnap’ referring to his membership in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The FARC is a 28,000-member rebel army that controls wide areas of Colombia, where it acts as the de facto government. The FARC plans to overthrow the corrupt U.S.-backed government, distribute land to the peasants, replace drug crops with food crops and end foreign corporate domination of the economy by empowering working people to run things.

The FARC wants the workers and peasants to rule instead of foreign corporations, rich landlords and drug traffickers. Professor Palmera joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia back in 1989, following the extermination of his fellow Patriotic Union (a political party) members by the Colombian state and its death squads. Over 4000 Patriotic Union members were murdered - including two presidential candidates, eight congressmen, 70 councilmen, dozens of deputies and mayors, hundreds of trade unionists, communist and peasant leaders, students and youth. Professor Palmera, in his dedication to building a just and peaceful society, joined the FARC when all avenues to reform were closed. Today, Ricardo Palmera continues his fight for the Colombian people and the oppressed and exploited everywhere.

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