Puerto Rico:

The FBI Murder of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos

Revolution #017, October 9, 2005, posted at revcom.us

"Beginning with the brutal landing of U.S. troops in 1898, Puerto Rico has been crudely dominated by the needs of U.S. capitalism…. The RCP,USA supports the struggle for the unconditional, total independence of Puerto Rico and the complete social liberation of the Puerto Rican people."

"Puerto Rico: A Particular National-Colonial Question"
from the Draft Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Available online: revcom.us/rcp-e.htm

On September 23, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had a tight seal around a small farmhouse in Puerto Rico’s mountains. Inside was Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, the longtime leader of the Ejercito Popular Boricua-Los Macheteros, a Puerto Rican independence organization. He had been living clandestinely since 1990, after being convicted of a major Wells Fargo robbery in Connecticut.

For years he has been known to his supporters through tape-recorded speeches played at rallies and gatherings on the island. In fact, the very same afternoon that federal sharpshooters were closing in, Filiberto Ojeda’s recorded speech was echoing through the nearby town of Lares --where hundreds of people had rallied for the anniversary of the "Grito de Lares," the 1868 uprising celebrated as a symbol of Puerto Rican nationhood and independence.

The local head of the FBI, Luis Fraticelli admitted that Filiberto Ojeda offered to negotiate for the safety of his wife Elma Beatriz Rosado--who emerged from the house and was taken captive. It is reported that Ojeda asked for a reporter be brought to the scene to serve as eyewitness and mediator, and that the FBI refused.

The U.S. government has a long history of executing militant and revolutionary leaders of the people. The Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was assassinated in his bed. Malcolm X was shot after delivering a speech.

Leaders and fighters of the Puerto Rican independence movement have been coldly targeted by the government. Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, the founder of the modern Puerto Rican independence movement, was imprisoned by the U.S. during the 1950s. While in custody, he was deliberately exposed to dangerous radiation which contributed to the decline of his health and his death in 1965.

In another famous case, two young independentistas were forced to their knees after surrendering on Cerro Maravilla mountain in 1978--and coldly shot by five policemen. One of these cops later described getting orders from the commander of the police intelligence division that the independentistas "should not come down alive.’’

And now they have executed Filiberto Ojeda, a man in his seventies, in his isolated rural hideaway. The federal agents poured over a hundred rounds into his house, while Filiberto Ojeda defended himself with shots of his own. Somewhere in that exchange, a government sniper’s bullet ripped through his body, piercing his lung. They then sealed off Ojeda’s house for 12 more hours, as he slowly bled to death.

A storm of outrage and fresh revolutionary sentiment has arisen over this execution.

Demonstrations took place across Puerto Rico, and in New York City. As his body was carried from San Juan to the cemetery in his eastern home town of Naguabo, many schools closed and crowds of many thousands lined the caravan route, hanging Puerto Rico’s national banner from the overpasses.