Send Holiday Greetings to Colombian Rebels in U.S. Jails
Sisters and Brothers,
The winter holidays are here. While many of us warmly celebrate with family and friends, Colombian revolutionaries Ricardo Palmera and Anayibe “Sonia” Valderrama continue to sit in lonely prison cells because they chose to fight against poverty and oppression in their own country. Ricardo Palmera and Sonia are political prisoners held hostage by George Bush and the U.S. empire. They have committed no crime; they have only rebelled against injustice and misery, poverty and death. Ricardo Palmera and Sonia dedicate their lives to the Colombian people and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Like nearly half of the 28,000-plus FARC members, Sonia is a brave woman from a peasant family who learned to read and write with the rebels and went on to become a leader of other fighters. A guerrilla commander, she was captured by the Colombian military, imprisoned on a Navy ship and then extradited to the U.S. Sonia’s trial was a blizzard of accusations and false testimony by drug traffickers, paid informants and rotten government officials. Sonia never stood a chance in a process fixed to convict her and she is now serving 17 years in a Texas prison, which is where George Bush belongs. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera continues support Sonia.
Ricardo Palmera, a peace negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is in solitary confinement – now for a third year – allowed no family, no friends, no supporters and no interviews with the press. Still, Ricardo knows he is not alone, because when he enters the courtroom to testify he sees dozens of North American supporters raising their fists in solidarity. The smiling Colombian revolutionary knows we stand with him against the Bush administration’s military adventure, money and corruption. Palmera faces down his accusers with truth and the conviction of a revolutionary. When paid informants make up their stories, Palmera gives the defense lawyers questions that expose the lies to the American jury. When the ludicrous FBI agent Alejandro Barbeito claims Palmera and his Colombian lawyer agreed to an interrogation with no lawyer present. Palmera shouts, “You are a liar!” The U.S. government claims Palmera is a ‘criminal,’ but Professor Palmera is held under ‘special administrative measures’ and the trials are endlessly bizarre.
The Washington D.C. trials are like grade school winter pageants gone wrong – Palmera is allowed no witnesses, Judge Hogan was forced to step down after he was caught cheating, Palmera beat the latest drug trial where there was no physical evidence – only ‘testimony’ from paid liars who can’t keep their lines straight, convicted drug traffickers looking for get out of jail free cards and wickedly corrupt Colombian military and government officials. The jurors have chosen again and again to believe Professor Palmera over the Bush and Uribe regimes. In the latest ‘drug trial’ seven of the American jurors wanted to set Palmera free because there was no evidence, only accusations and slanders. The U.S. government claiming the FARC is involved in drugs is the same as the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq. It is simply a lie to further U.S. military intervention. It is no wonder that Professor Palmera has beaten all but one of the charges – the one saying he belongs to a conspiracy, the FARC. If most Americans understood the oppressive realities of Colombia, they might consider joining the conspiracy too!
So this holiday season, while George Bush acts the part of Scrooge, we ask you to reach out and warm the heart of the brave revolutionaries Ricardo Palmera and Sonia (Anayibe R. Valderrama). Send holiday cards and greetings to:
Anayibe R. Vaderrama
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Ft. Worth, TX, 76127
C/O Federal Public Defender for D.C., Robert Tucker
625 Indiana Ave., Suite 550
Washington D.C. 20004
Because this is a political trial with ‘special administrative measures,’ we must mail Palmera’s cards to the U.S. court appointed attorney who can only tell Palmera about them. Please send a copy of your message to the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera at www.freericardopalmera.org. We will pressure the U.S. government to restore the rights of prisoners. By sending these messages of holiday solidarity, you are sending a clear message to Ricardo’s jailers that you are concerned about the fate of this Colombian freedom fighter.
The editors and staff of Fight Back!