The following is a fact sheet about the U.S. extradition, trials, and imprisonment of Ricardo Palmera (Simon Trinidad) put out by the National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera in 2008. It is also available in .doc format for printing out and distributing here. For regular and ongoing coverage of the struggle to free Comrade Palmera, check out Fight Back! News.
FREE RICARDO PALMERA!
We demand the U.S. government free Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera, a political leader and negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Professor Palmera has done nothing wrong. To the contrary, he consistently defends the sovereignty of his country, Colombia’s independence, and the rights of the Colombian people.
Ricardo Palmera’s extradition, imprisonment, and trials are part of the U.S. Pentagon’s counter-insurgency war. 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.
U.S. WAR IN COLOMBIA – PLAN COLOMBIA
Imposing “Plan Colombia”, the U.S. government is intervening directly in Colombia’s civil war — arming, training, and commanding the Colombian Military and backing the corrupt government of a small wealthy elite. The Pentagon’s Southern Command gives orders to Colombia’s generals. President Bush has doubled U.S. military advisors to 800 and contract mercenaries to 600. The U.S. government’s dirty war in Colombia costs over $5 billion in taxpayers’ money. It goes to the Colombian Military and its death squads who torture and kill trade unionists, students, and peasants. The paramilitary death squads are part and parcel of the Colombian state, serving the interests of U.S. corporations like Occidental Oil, Chiquita Banana, Drummond Coal, and Coca-Cola. Plan Colombia is a plan for poverty, misery and death. It rains down terror upon Colombia’s poor.
The imprisonment of Ricardo Palmera is a direct result of U.S. intervention in Colombia’s civil war. The FARC formed in 1964 after Colombia’s elites and their U.S. allies violently attacked an independent peasants’ movement. Ricardo Palmera joined the FARC in 1989 after seeing most of his friends and comrades of the Patriotic Union political party murdered or exiled. The Colombian Military and their death squads murdered more than 4000 candidates, members, and elected officials of the Patriotic Union. Today, the FARC is a rebel army of 28,000 fighting for national liberation. It consists mainly of peasants and one-third of its fighters are women. However, FARC members come from all walks of life, including leaders like Professor Palmera. The FARC fight for social justice, seeking democratic social and economic change, organizing the poor to overthrow the rich and become the rulers of society. The FARC opposes the U.S. Empire — where U.S. corporations steal the oil, coal, minerals, gems, and agricultural products that belong to the Colombian people. The FARC appeals to the American people to demand peace, not war, from Bush and other leaders.
U.S. DESPERATION LEADS TO EXTRADITION
Bush and the U.S. government are desperate. They know the forces of revolution grow as “Plan Colombia” fails. To try to salvage their dirty war in Colombia, the U.S. State Department rides roughshod over Colombian sovereignty. U.S. courtrooms are being used to intervene in Colombia.
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 while providing “real time” information on the FARC to the Colombian Military. A firefight ensued in which one U.S. contractor 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.
Professor Palmera’s trials are outrageous. At times, it is not just Ricardo Palmera on trial, but the FARC in its entirety. In the first trial Judge Hogan initially bought advertising space in Colombian newspapers and magazines, demanding the FARC appear in his Washington D.C. courtroom! They are attempting to criminalize the struggle of the Colombian people, but end up looking arrogant and foolish in front of the whole world.
Ricardo Palmera is held in solitary confinement — no family, no friends, no reporters, not even his own Colombian lawyer can visit. However, by speaking the truth in court, FARC leader Palmera has consistently beaten the Bush administration. Palmera won a victory when the first trial ended in a hung jury. American jurors could not find Palmera guilty on the three “terrorism” charges and the two “kidnapping” charges. It was supposed to be a “slam-dunk” for the U.S. prosecutors, but turned into a big loss on their home turf.
Next the U.S. government re-tried Palmera on the same exact charges. However before the 2nd trial could even begin, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. prosecutor Ken Kohl and had to step down, to recuse himself. Hogan’s replacement, Judge Lamberth refused to allow Palmera any witnesses. The U.S. prosecutor had dozens of witnesses — paid informants, lying convicted drug runners, and corrupt Colombian government officials. At the end of the 2nd trial, the jury could not find Palmera guilty of “terrorism” charges or the actual kidnapping charge related to three U.S. military contractors captured and held by the FARC. Unfortunately, based upon the FARC capturing its enemies in combat, the jury convicted Palmera of “belonging to a conspiracy to kidnap”. Judge Lamberth added every year of time the U.S. Prosecutor asked for, producing a 60-year sentence while emphasizing his “judicial independence and impartiality”. At his sentencing Ricardo Palmera gave a moving and heroic speech, defending himself and his principles, the FARC and its leadership, and the revolution of the Colombian people. Ricardo Palmera’s speech will one day appear in history books across Latin America.
The third and fourth trials of Ricardo Palmera involved “drug” charges, claiming Professor Palmera is part of a vast conspiracy to import cocaine to the U.S. This claim is like the “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. It is the big lie with no evidence. The FARC are simply not involved in the production or trafficking of drugs. This time, seven American jurors declared Ricardo Palmera “not guilty”. Another hung jury, another mistrial, but the U.S. Prosecutor put Ricardo Palmera on trial again. For the same charges! Another million-dollar trial with no evidence, only paid informants and corrupt government officials. In this fourth trial, Palmera won another hung jury and the U.S. State Department finally gave up and requested that the charges be dropped.
FREE RICARDO PALMERA! STOP PLAN COLOMBIA!
The extradition, imprisonment, and trials in Washington D.C. of Ricardo Palmera show the lapdog relationship of Colombia’s government to the U.S. This extradition and the four trials is a threat to movements for social justice around the world. The “visible” and direct involvement by the U.S. Government in Colombia threatens to set a precedent where popular movements around the world will be under the unilateral and direct dictates of the U.S. government and U.S. law without regard to national independence or international law. We ask people who stand for peace with justice, who support democracy, and who know right from wrong, to join our campaign for the immediate release of Ricardo Palmera! We repeat again, the only fair trial is no trial. The only fair sentence is no sentence. Free Ricardo Palmera! Stop Plan Colombia!
The National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera