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Protest for Palmera’s freedom Sept. 17

By National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera.

Protest Sept. 17 in Washington D.C. – trial of Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera

The Bush Administration is turning justice on its head with the trial of Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera is calling a protest at the D.C. Federal Court Building to demand Palmera’s immediate release. Supporters will support Professor Palmera in the courtroom.

Ricardo Palmera is a peace negotiator for Colombia’s rebels – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). More than three years ago Palmera was in Ecuador to meet a UN official and discuss prisoner exchanges between the FARC and the Colombian government. U.S. and Colombian agents kidnapped and extradited him to the United States where he sits in solitary confinement. Ricardo Palmera is a political prisoner who should not be on trial in the U.S.

Professor Palmera’s trials are anything but ordinary. In the first trial American jurors did not find him guilty, so Judge Hogan declared a mistrial. Then at the start of the second trial, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with US Prosecutor Ken Kohl and had to step down. Next, Palmera beat four counts against him, including “terrorism” and kidnapping charges. The jury found Palmera guilty of “conspiracy to kidnap”—referring to his membership in the FARC and the FARC capture of prisoners in their war with the Colombian government. The FARC is a 28,000-member rebel army that controls wide areas of Colombia where it is the only sort of 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. Colombian workers and peasants will have power in the New Colombia.

“The U.S. government has no right to put Ricardo Palmera on trial.” says Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera. “The Bush administration 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. It is an excuse for military adventure.” Burke continues, “The U.S. prosecutors are losing this trial before they even started. Ironically, while Colombian prisoner exchange negotiations begin, the FARC’s negotiator is sitting in solitary confinement, kidnapped by Bush.”

Angela Denio, also of the National Committee and Students for a Democratic Society says, “Ricardo Palmera is a freedom fighter. He stands tall compared to his accusers. President Bush is desperate, surrounded by rats abandoning his ship of state because of all the lying, cheating, and corruption. That includes Colombian President Uribe who is tied to narco-traffickers and paramilitary death squads. The truth is coming out now.”

Angela urges all progressive people to join the Monday, September 17th protest, stating, “We plan to see Professor Palmera and show our public support. We will not allow the Bush administration to criminalize 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.”

Free Ricardo Palmera!

Picket line and press conference for Ricardo Palmera’s freedom!

Monday, September 17, 2007, 8:30 a.m. picket line, 9:00 a.m. press conference

Federal Court Building (333 Constitution Ave. NW), Washington, D.C. For more info contact Tom Burke at 773-844-3612 or Mick Kelly at 612-715-3280.

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