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National Committee says

Demand the Immediate Release of Ricardo Palmera

by Mick Kelly |
October 8, 2006
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Washington D.C. - Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera goes on trial here Oct. 10, in one of the most bizarre cases ever. Palmera is a negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC. The FARC controls 40% of Colombia and has 27,000 armed fighters. The trial of Palmera is an attempt by the Bush administration to criminalize a national liberation movement.

Amazingly, the U.S. prosecutor wanted to put the whole of the FARC on trial along with Palmera. So U.S. Judge Hogan issued an order demanding the FARC show up in his courtroom. This approach has been quietly dropped, in favor of a new U.S. government indictment against fifty FARC leaders. Those FARC leaders have not responded, as they are spread throughout Colombia, carrying forward a revolution.

Ricardo Palmera’s case is extremely unusual. He is held without access to a lawyer of his choice. Palmera’s family, friends and supporters are denied the right to visit him. The U.S. government bans journalists from interviewing Palmera. The U.S. government-appointed lawyer works under very restrictive rules and Palmera’s own lawyer from Colombia is not allowed to speak to him unless the FBI is present.

Palmera is accused of kidnapping three U.S. mercenaries. The three U.S. mercenaries were contracted by the U.S. government to work in a known war zone where their plane was shot down by the rebel army - the FARC. One of the U.S. mercenaries on the plane was killed in a firefight along with a Colombian sergeant. Although everyone agrees Palmera had no knowledge of the FARC’s capture of the mercenaries until newspapers printed the story, the U.S. government is alleging hostage taking.

Lie, lie and deny: No war, no mercenaries, and no prisoners of war

Judge Hogan ruled that Ricardo Palmera is not a prisoner of war because the U.S. is not at war in Colombia. Meanwhile, there are 800 U.S. soldiers advising Colombian soldiers in the field and 500 U.S. mercenaries supporting the Colombian military and their death squads. Plan Colombia, the U.S. war plan, has spent nearly $5 billion of U.S. taxpayer money on weapons and military contractors. For their part, the FARC wants U.S. military intervention in Colombia’s 40-year-old civil war to end.

The U.S. prosecutor promises to bring forward expert witnesses with ties to both the corrupt Colombian government and the discredited U.S. intelligence services. National liberation movements, like the growing and powerful one in the Philippines are watching the case closely. Many in Colombia marvel at the audacity of the Bush regime’s attempt to criminalize modern revolutionaries fighting the corrupt and repressive government of Colombia. Meanwhile U.S. activists plan to attend Palmera’s trial beginning on Oct. 10 in Washington D.C. and to hold press conferences exposing the bizarre proceedings.

“Everyone who supports peace and justice should demand the immediate release of Ricardo Palmera, a man who has devoted his entire life to the liberation of the Colombian people,” says Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera.