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Free Colombian Revolutionary Leader Ricardo Palmera! U.S. Imperialism, Hands Off Colombia!

By Jose Maria Sison

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement by Prof. Jose Maria Sison of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle calling for the release of Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) joins the freedom-loving people of Colombia and other progressive forces throughout the world in condemning the abduction and illegal trial in the United States of Ricardo Palmera, a leader of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), and in demanding his immediate release. The ILPS demands that the US respect the national sovereignty of the people of Colombia and dismantle Plan Colombia.

Ricardo Palmera, known by his Simón Bolívar-inspired alternative name “Simón Trinidad”, was treacherously kidnapped in Quito, Ecuador, on Jan. 2, 2004 in a joint action of the Interpol, the CIA and the Colombian and Ecuadorian armed forces. At the time of his abduction, Palmera was in Quito to arrange a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to work out a prisoner exchange between the FARC and the Uribe government. He was detained in Colombia until 31 December 2004 when Pres. Alvaro Uribe turned him over to the FBI for extradition to the US to face charges of terrorism, kidnapping, drug trafficking and rebellion.

Ricardo Palmera is a respected revolutionary leader who served as one of the leading FARC negotiators in the peace negotiations with the reactionary Colombian government. Under US pressure Uribe scuttled the peace negotiations. The FARC has 27,000 armed fighters and controls 40% of Colombia with presence in all the districts and cities. The trial of Palmera is part of the drive of the Bush administration to label and misrepresent national liberation movements as “terrorist”, prevent political resolution of revolutionary civil wars through peace negotiations and impose US-dictated military solutions.

US Judge Hogan who presides over the case has ruled that Palmera is not a prisoner of war supposedly on the ground that the US is not at war in Colombia. Some 800 US soldiers are on Columbian soil advising Colombian troops in the field, aside from 500 US mercenaries supporting the Colombian military and their death squads. Under Plan Colombia, the US has poured nearly $5 billion to arm and train the Colombian reactionary armed forces to crush the revolutionary forces fighting for national self-determination, democracy and social justice.

The US is conducting a dirty war in Colombia arming and training a reactionary army that operates death squads to kill trade unionists, peasants, students and other people. Under the guise of fighting narco-trafficking the US Plan Colombia finances the war against the FARC using right-wing paramilitary groups that actually control much of the narco-trafficking in Colombia. Uribe himself is mentioned in the US Defense Intelligence Agency report of 1991 as among “the more important Colombian narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian narcotic cartels for security, transportation, distribution, collection and enforcement of narcotics operations.”

Ricardo Palmera’s extradition and trial in a US court does not only violate the national sovereignty of Colombia but also threatens that of all other countries. This extradition is a threat to many movements fighting for national self-determination, democracy and social justice around the world. This has set a precedent by which people’s movements around the world can be subjected to the imperial and extraterritorial unilateral actions of the US government and US law in gross violation of the principles of national independence and international law. The action of the US government in the case of Palmera is in sharp contrast with its action of coddling the Cuban terrorist,Luis Posada Carriles, who is criminally liable for the massacre of airline passengers and other crimes.

As in Colombia, US is also engaged in brazen acts of intervention in the ongoing civil war in the Philippines. It has colluded with the regime of Gloria Arroyo, the Dutch government and the Council of the European Union in carrying out an all-out war policy in line with the US global war of terror and in putting the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant on the “terrorist list” in a vain attempt to pressure the Filipino revolutionaries to capitulate.

The treacherous abduction of Palmera, who is a peace negotiator, demonstrates the dangers posed by the US imperialists to the peace negotiators, consultants, experts and staff of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, amidst the rising wave of fascism in the world. The “terrorist listing” is aimed at pressuring the NDFP to terminate the peace negotiations as the NDFP stands firm on its principles and refuses to capitulate. The NDFP consistently adheres to The Hague Declaration which sets forth the principle of noncapitulation and the mutually acceptable principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice in the framework of the NDFP peace negotiations with the Manila government.

In the name of its so-called “war on terror”, the US arms and trains the reactionary Philippine armed forces in “counter-insurgency” operations that utilizes death squads to kill trade unionists, peasant leaders, priests and bishops, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and all those who struggle for genuine national independence, democracy, justice and peace in the Philippines.

There are currently 5,700 US troops in the Philippines. Their presence on Philippine territory is a violation of the Filipino people’s national sovereignty and constitutes intervention in Philippine affairs. These US troops are engaged in counterrevolutionary armed operations under the pretext of frequent joint military exercises with the Philippine army to train and assist the puppet troops in the counterrevolutionary war against the Philippine liberation movement.

US imperialism is becoming more and more rapacious, bellicose and aggressive. With the USA PATRIOT ACT and the recently passed US Military Commissions Act of 2006, the US has shown that it has no qualms about tearing apart all the established norms and standards in international relations and all universally guaranteed civil liberties under the International Bill of Rights and International Humanitarian Law. All freedom loving people of the world must condemn and fight the growing scourge of fascism and the US wars of aggression and plunder. These are generating the widespread turmoil in the world and the people’s resistance through revolutionary armed struggle and other forms of struggle.

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