The Sentencing of José Solís

Revolutionary Worker #1015, July 25, 1999

As we go to press, plans are moving ahead for several days of action in Washington, DC to demand the immediate release of all Puerto Rican prisoners of war and political prisoners. Sixteen Puerto Rican prisoners have been locked in U.S. dungeons--many of them over 19 years--for fighting for the independence of their homeland Puerto Rico. Only days ago, the U.S. authorities locked yet another independence fighter behind bars--Professor José Solís.

Starting July 22, people will be gathering from all over the United States and Puerto Rico to demand the release of these women and men.

These days, July 22-25, also mark the 101st anniversary of the U.S. invasion that first occupied Puerto Rico and seized it as a colony for the U.S. empire.

This July 22-25 mobilization is being organized by a broad coalition of forces, including the National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Prisoners of War and Political Prisoners, the Pro-LIBERTAD Campaign, the Committee in Solidarity with Dr. José Solís Jordán, and the Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project.

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has officially endorsed this "Jornada of July 22-25." In a recent statement, the RCP reiterated its strong support for the demand for the immediate release of all Puerto Rican political prisoners and added, "The RCP,USA steadfastly opposes the colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States and firmly upholds the Puerto Rican people's right of and struggle for self-determination and national liberation."


"This verdict was actually about a people and a hundred years of crying and suffering and yet continuing to hope. Now I too have been baptized by the tears and the pain and this hope."

José Solís Jordán,
at his sentencing July 7

"It was just government tactics. If you're into defending your rights you'd understand that that's the way they work: They have to paint this picture--they have to dehumanize a person in order to get what they want. What do they want? They want to convict, they want to win, and they don't care what they do or who they tread upon."

Martha Gonzales-Solís,
wife of José Solís,
speaking to the RW

On July 7 a federal judge sentenced Puerto Rican professor José Solís Jordán to four years and three months in a federal prison. It was an unjust verdict for a man active in the struggle to free Puerto Rico. It followed a trial filled with outrageous police fabrications and a crude attempt to promote hysteria about so-called "terrorism." The judge in this case repeatedly tried to prevent the key issue--Puerto Rico's unjust colonial status--from being raised in the courtroom.

At the same time, the outcome of this trial also marked a setback for FBI plans. The U.S. government's political police had clearly hoped that José Solís could be broken and intimidated. They had hoped he would try to avoid prison by helping them railroad other Puerto Rican activists to trial--to help the U.S. government break up the Puerto Rican movement he has been part of in Chicago.

José Solís refused to become an instrument for the oppressors. His stand and the struggle to defend him have rallied new forces to the cause of Puerto Rican political prisoners. Demonstrations have taken place for José Solís in San Juan, Chicago, New York, Boston, Miami, Oakland, Des Moines, Philadelphia, Camden and Cleveland.

The Railroad of José Solís

The case of José Solís is an all-too-typical story of police entrapment and political repression. José is a well-respected educator who has been active in the struggle to free Puerto Rico. He was charged with planning a 1992 attack on a U.S. military recruiting station in Chicago--an operation which never came off, and which was apparently organized by the government's key witness, Rafael Marrero. The government's charges could have resulted in a sentence of over 50 years in prison.

Rafael Marrero had been active with José within the Puerto Rican independence movement in Chicago. In a betrayal of trust and friendship, Marrero arrived at the Solís house, wired for sound by federal agents. The resulting tape was the only real evidence the authorities presented at Solís' trial. It was hard to understand. But after the U.S. government created a "translated English transcript" of the garbled tape, the "evidence" suited their case. There was no one on the jury who understood Spanish... and so the government's version was what they heard.

The persecution of José Solís Jordán has taken place as the U.S. ruling class is seriously considering new plans to annex Puerto Rico as the 51st state, and at a time when there has been a growing movement to free political prisoners within the U.S. The U.S. government is clearly trying to break up centers of the independence movement--both in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico itself.

While José was being railroaded to prison, an intense ruling class campaign has targeted the Puerto Rican independence movement in Chicago. There have been media attacks on the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, witchhunt hearings conducted by state legislators, and outrageous attempts to charge independence activists with "corruption" at Clemente High School--which serves a largely Puerto Rican community. These investigations have literally portrayed cultural programs at Clemente that brought Puerto Rican artists and musicians to Chicago as criminal acts.

Though they have unjustly railroaded a man into prison, the U.S. authorities have failed in their larger plans: The persecution of Professor José Solís did not intimidate people, and it did not lead to successful new political indictments of Puerto Rican activists. In fact, his case has brought many people forward in the fight to free Puerto Rican political prisoners.

On the day the judge sentenced José Solís, that courtroom was packed with over 100 supporters. As José rose to be taken to prison by armed guards, he turned to the crowd. They stood, called out his name and raised their fists in salute and defiance.


"Let us cease being echoes. Let us cease being shadows. Let us cease being a facade. Let us cease being a consideration. Let us cease being objects. Let us cease being a whisper. Let us cease being a showcase. Let us cease being a pity and a wound."

José Solís Jordán
at his sentencing, July 7

Write to: Dr. José Solís Jordán, 08121-424, 71 W. Van Buren, Chicago, IL 60605

The Committee in Solídarity with José Solís Jordán, phone: 773-278-9361, website:

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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