U.S. Police World: The War Elsewhere
BY BILL DUNNE
Not satisfied with making its overtly occupied territory a police state and imprisoning its subjects on political charges, the U.S. ruling class is reaching around the world to kidnap people into its vast gulag archipelago. Hundreds of citizens of other countries who have never been to the U.S. are or have been kept in the extra legal prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. authorities have disappeared many more—no one knows how many—into their global gulag via extraordinary rendition. Yet others are being selectively extradited to face U.S. extra special “justice” regarding real or imagined crimes against some U.S. interest that cannot be prosecuted in the victims’ home countries. Two of the latest such extradites—and two of the newest political prisoners of the U.S. empire—are Ricardo Palmera and Nayibe Rojas Valderama.
Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, also known as Simón Trinidad, was extradited from Columbia to the U.S. on 31 December 2004. He was arrested in January of 2004 in Ecuador, where he had gone for a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss the abuse of political prisoners in Columbia. Palmera, a political leader in the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Columbia (FARC), was returned to Columbia, where he had been active in the revolutionary movement for more than two decades. The U.S. claimed it had the right to try Palmera on drug trafficking and terrorism charges. Right-wing Columbian President Alvaro Uribe acceded to the U.S. demand for extradition, in violation of his country’s constitution, which forbids extradition for political prosecutions.
Nayibe Rojas Valderama, also known as Omaira Rojas Cabrera, was extradited from Columbia to the U.S. on 9 March 2005. She is also a high-ranking, long-time member of the FARC. She, too, was extradited on a U.S. claim that it has the right to prosecute her. In her case, U.S. officials alleged a drug trafficking conspiracy to put a veneer of legality on a political attack. Since the supposed conspiracy, with no allegation that any part of it was done outside Columbian territory, should have been prosecuted in Columbia, Uribe also violated Columbia’s constitution in extraditing Rojas Valderama.
Palmera and Valderama were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia. Each has already been forced to make an initial appearance before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case is being prosecuted in the District of Columbia by the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of “Justice” with help from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. But Palmera has said this about that: “The Columbian government believed they could dampen my revolutionary zeal with extradition, but this will never happen.”
The indictment against Palmera claims that he and another FARC leader controlled, directed, and managed money for alleged FARC drug trafficking. It also charges Palmera with kidnapping three American “defense contractors,” who remain in FARC custody, whose plane crashed in the Columbian jungle in 2003, and the murder of two other people on the plane. And it charges him with providing material support to terrorists, which the U.S. has branded FARC freedom fighters. The indictment against Rojas Valderama charges her and another ranking member of the FARC, Jose Benito Cabrera Cuevas, also known as Fabian Ramirez, with several counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cocaine and to import it into the U.S. The indictments also seek the forfeiture of FARC assets. Perhaps the U.S. will seek forfeiture of all of Columbia when FARC wins.
Both Palmera and Rojas Valderma vehemently deny the charges. According to the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press of 9 January 2005, even Palmera’s critics say the drug charges were trumped up. Nor was he the commander of the area in which the Americans were captured. The case against Rojas Valderama is similarly unsubstantial. And these facts are beyond the lack of U.S. jurisdiction or legitimacy to prosecute either of these political prisoners.
The intent of the charges is clearly to criminalize the revolutionary movement in Columbia and to further isolate that movement by intimidating its supporters with similar terrorism charges and forfeitures. That movement is fighting to overthrow a rapacious capitalist regime in which the vast majority of people live in grinding poverty, a tiny minority live in opulent excess, and an authoritarian military and right wing death squads are employed to keep it that way. Unionists are killed with impunity, people are routinely disappeared, and human rights abuses are legion. The charges against Palmera and Rojas Valderama are designed to undermine the connection of resistance to this oppression to its victims, the people.
Against this oppressive and exploitive system, FARC revolutionaries, including Palmera and Rojas Valderama, have struggled for decades, accepting lives of hard word, privation, and constant risk to move forward the cause of their people. The reactionary Uribe and U.S. governments and their oil company and other corporate masters cannot countenance such popular struggle or the social versus corporate freedom it envisions. Since the same reactionary masters and their agencies of repression are also waging the same class war around the world, including right here, the struggle of the Columbian people—and FARC and Palmera and Rojas Valderama—is our struggle, too.
Free Ricardo Palmera!
Free Nayibe Rojas Valderama!
Free all political prisoners!