“I should be judged as a captain who went from Spain to the Indies to conquer a people numerous and warlike, whose manners and religion are very different from ours, who live in sierras and mountains, without fixed settlements, and where by divine will I have placed under the sovereignty of the King and Queen our Lords, an Other World, whereby Spain, which was reckoned poor, is become the richest of countries.”
“These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.”
“Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.” – Christopher Columbus
Fuck Columbus and the four horsemen of the ongoing capitalist apocalypse that he rode in on, racism, slavery, colonialism and genocide. It’s my contention that Columbus is the father of modern capitalism which is defined by me as the gathering of financial profit by any and all means necessary. There is no code, no moral, no rules that get in the way of financial profit when it comes to capitalism the only code, or moral (if it can even be called that) or rule in capitalism is financial profit at any cost. Slavery, imprisonment, war, famine, disease, genocide it’s all fair ground in capitalism. Nothing stands in capitalism’s way when it comes to making a profit.
This idea of profit at any cost can be traced back to Columbus. Just look at the rapacious addiction to wealth he created in Europe with his so-called “discovery”. The transatlantic slave trade was started because of him. The desire for gold in the so-called “new world” begat the slavery of indigenous people, which then begat the slavery of Africans which then begat colonialism in both the Americas and in Africa and it all starts with Columbus…
Columbus the harbinger of colonialism in the Americas bringing me to the oldest colony in the world can be traced right back to him. Puerto Rico… Columbus first landed in Puerto Rico in 1493 and claimed it for Spain. It remained a colony of Spain until 1897 when Puerto Ricans, after many revolts and insurrections against Spanish colonial rule, managed to negotiate the autonomy of the island nation. 400 years of colonial rule were coming to an end… that is until the bastion of democracy and freedom came to Puerto Rico. The United States of America… The US invaded Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War in 1898 and Puerto Rico went from winning it’s autonomy from Spain, one of the greatest colonial powers in the world to being a colony of the United States the new kid on the colonialism block.
A few years ago i decided to try and create a piece of art work that detailed the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico right back to Columbus. i came up with the DISCOVERED Card as carried by Christopher Columbus. In the background of the card the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The first set of numbers on the card 1119 1493 are the date that Columbus first landed in Puerto Rico November 19th of 1493. The second set of numbers on the card 1210 1898 are the day that Spain gave Puerto Rico to the US December 10th of 1898. Columbus has been a card member of DISCOVERED since 1493 and the expiration date of the colonization he began will hopefully expire 20XX sometime this century for Puerto Rico. The flag in the left hand corner of the card is the Lares flag. The Lares flag was the first Puerto Rican flag ever designed and it was designed for the insurrection known as El Grito de Lares (The Cry Of Lares). The insurrection of Lares, a small mountain town in the center of the island, set in motion the autonomy that Puerto Rico would win against Spain. Under that flag the words GOLD CARD – because what other kind of card would Christopher Columbus carry?
So in honor of this wretched holiday in which we celebrate the genocide, the transatlantic slave trade, the rapacious hunger for financial profits above all else, the rampant colonization of Africa and the Americas and even Asia i give you the DISCOVERED Card. So yeah… Fuck Columbus…
It seems that as much as i hate Columbus he’s had a huge impact on my creative life… So much of my art and filmmaking is about dealing with the effects of Columbus and his rampant capitalism and his opening the doors of colonialism and his conceptualizing multi-generational slavery with his blatant racism. The art i created for the independence of Puerto Rico might never have to be if Columbus had stayed put. My documentaries on political prisoners might not have to be if Columbus never reached these shores because there might not have ever been a need for those people to go to prison. My film MACHETERO about the violent struggle for Puerto Rican independence against US colonialism (which is a continuation of Spanish colonialism) took me 11 years from the writing of the script to releasing it on Vimeo On Demand…
i often think about how my life might have taken a different turn if Columbus hadn’t started all this shit… i often think about how different the world would have been if Columbus and his crew had just died at sea… i often think about how much time and energy and talent is wasted in the world combatting the bullshit Columbus started over 500 years ago… i often think about what i might create if i didn’t have to deal with the Pandora’s box of capitalism that Columbus opened with his colonization and slavery and genocide… So yeah… Fuck Columbus…
“In 1492, the natives discovered they were indians, discovered they lived in America, discovered they were naked, discovered that the Sin existed, discovered they owed allegiance to a King and Kingdom from another world and a God from another sky, and that this God had invented the guilty and the dress, and had sent to be burnt alive who worships the Sun the Moon the Earth and the Rain that wets it.” - Eduardo Galeano
“These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.”
“Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.”
“I should be judged as a captain who went from Spain to the Indies to conquer a people numerous and warlike, whose manners and religion are very different from ours, who live in sierras and mountains, without fixed settlements, and where by divine will I have placed under the sovereignty of the King and Queen our Lords, an Other World, whereby Spain, which was reckoned poor, is become the richest of countries.” – Christopher Columbus
If there was one thing, that one had to choose to lay bare the inhumanity of this United States Of America one would not have to go any farther than the celebration of Columbus Day. The genocide that Columbus thinking set in place is unparalleled in the world. A genocide of wholesale slaughter that has never really ended. It’s never really ended because the pathology that Columbus used, continues today in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in Palestine and in Northern Ireland and especially in Puerto Rico… the oldest colony in the western hemisphere, a colonization that began under Columbus and continues today under the US.
Racism is a relatively young concept within world history. It’s only a little bit over 500 years old. Before Columbus there was no racism. It was the writings of Columbus that set in motion the idea that some were superior and others were inferior and that the criteria for that superiority and inferiority was in the color of a man or a woman’s skin. The ideology of racism opened the door to mass murders, torture, rape, disease and enslavement. What makes racism even more particularly odious is that it’s rooted firmly in the soil of capitalism. Racism was and is, simply a means to an end. It was a means to impoverish the many to enrich a few and it all began with Columbus.
From the enslavement and genocide of indigenous populations in North, Central and South America and in the Caribbean, to the trans-atlantic African slave trade to the subsequent colonization of Africa and parts of Asia. The common means in all this is racism and the common end is capitalism. It’s built a foundation and a template for capitalism that is used to plunder and exploit to this day.
Some 500 years later people have taken to the streets to connect the dots. It began in the Spring in North Africa with Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Sudan in the African Spring. It spread to the Middle East in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen in the Arab Spring. In the summer it spread across Europe in the European Summer in Greece, Spain, Italy and England and now it’s finally reached the modern-day epicenter of capitalism with the occupation of Wall Street and the American Fall.
The uprisings that began in North Africa and spread to the Middle East were clear about the racist implications of capitalism and how it affected their lives with the way that European and American powers back dictatorial regimes in their respective countries in order to rape and plunder the natural wealth and resources of their countries. The difficulty connecting the dots between the 500 years of racism in service to capitalism however is not something that is as prevalent in the European Summer. The uprisings in Europe were an indication to the end results of capitalism’s austerity measures on the populace. However the link between capitalism and racism cannot be broken so easily. What may have begun as racism towards others in service to capitalism is now being applied to the European population. Although there was no connecting of the dots between racism and capitalism among native Europeans the effects of austerity measures against them and the resistance movements built up to them are the same as in the African and Arab Spring.
As an aside – the reference to the African Spring as being a part of the Arab Spring is something that is a blatant example of racism. The very negation that these uprisings began on the continent of Africa and then spread to the Middle East is something that is done by design to further remove the issue of racism in the global question of capitalism.
Now it’s America’s turn to turn up the heat on capitalism. The Occupation of Wall Street that was inspired by the African and Arab Spring in a tactical sense is a good start but the American Fall hasn’t connected the dots to capitalism’s handmaiden racism, in much the same way that the European Summer didn’t. This could be the fatal flaw in the Occupation of Wall Street. The financial collapse for white Americans and Europeans may have started in 2008 but for non-whites it started with Columbus in 1492 and has continued since then.
This issue of recognizing the 500 year history of racism within the machinations of capitalism has a huge impact on the Occupation of Wall Street. Wall Street is the epicenter of the financial world. If the dots between racism and capitalism can be connected here then they can be connected around the world. If something can be done about racism and capitalism here in America with the Occupation of Wall Street and the other Occupations that are spreading around the country that are quickly making up the American Fall then maybe, just maybe, a paradigm shift of the last 500 years can be made. A paradigm shift that can re-shape the world and turn it back to right side up.
This federal holiday of Christopher Columbus is a perfect example of the disconnect between racism and capitalism in America. There are a lot of bright, young, intelligent, college educated people downtown on Wall Street struggling physically, spiritually and mentally to come up with solutions to the wholesale greed of capitalism. Yet the annual parade for Columbus that marches up 5th Avenue in New York City on this federal holiday seems to have gone off smoothly. You would be hard pressed to find a wider chasm between racism and capitalism than with the Occupation of Wall Street downtown and the Columbus Day Parade uptown. You would be hard pressed to find a greater disconnect between what Columbus began with the genocide of indigenous people’s in the Americas and the subsequent trans-atlantic African slave trade and what the banks did and continue to do to the global population.
If after the American Fall the United States of America is still celebrating Christopher Columbus who is the embodiment of the genesis of the Native American holocaust and the birth of the trans-atlantic African slave trade, and the harbinger of what the world is suffering under now, then it would be better if those who were Occupying Wall Street just went back home. It’s not too late to make the paradigm shift that will not just free the us from the corporate exploitation we ALL suffer under… black, white, red yellow and brown. It’s not too late to shackle the means that capitalism uses divide us to make that exploitation possible. It’s not to late to understand that racism is a tool of capitalism…
Some notes on the art. The first piece DISCOVERED is of course a Christopher Columbus credit card. The two sets of four numbers on the card are 11/19/1493 which was the day that Columbus landed o the island of Boriken, now known as Puerto Rico. The second two sets of four numbers are the date 12/10/1898 is the day that the Spanish gave the possession of Puerto Rico to the United States after losing the Spanish American War. The flag in the right hand bottom corner is the first flag of Puerto Rico known as the Lares flag. It was named after the mountain town of Lares where it was used in an uprising Spain against Spanish colonial rule that took place in 1868 and is known in Puerto Rico as El Grito de Lares, the Cry of Lares.
The second piece is Enjoy Colonialism Since 1493. It’s a design i did for RICANSTRUCTED a design company dedicated to the liberation of Puerto Rico from US colonialism. You can get that design on a T-shirt or Hoodie. It’s 1493 because that was the year that Columbus landed in Puerto Rico.
The third piece is an AMERICAN EXPROPRIATION credit card for Uncle Sam. The first two set of numbers on the card are 07/25/1898 which is the day that the US invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War. The second two sets of numbers are 03/02/1917 (on the card, the year is first followed by the month and day – for aesthetic design reason) that was the day that Puerto Ricans were made US citizens by the US congress (without their consent) so that they could be drafted to fight in World War I. The 1952 under the small Puerto Rican flag is the year that Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth of the US in order to have Puerto Rico avoid being listed on the United Nations list of colonized nations.
Go Fuck Your Suicide Selfie series with two-fingered gun to the temple – i have the power to kill myself with myself by myself…
i got new glasses
i can see clearly now
that the blur is gone
i can see what needs to be done
two fingers to the head
pressed up against the temple
i have the ability
to pull the trigger
but do i have the courage
from one moment to the next
i’m something different now
MACHETERO is a film that questions and challenges Puerto Rico’s colonial status in a way that brings post-9/11 definitions, ideas and notions of terrorism into play. Theatrically self-released in 2013, MACHETERO has screened all over the world and won awards in South Africa, Wales, England, Thailand, Ireland and New York. Check out the film in its entirety on Vimeo On Demand to determine if it’s right for your classroom or as a campus activity. MACHETERO is a perfect fit for:
Latin American Studies
Political Science Studies
Pan African Studies
Pan Latino Studies
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Other screening events have been sponsored by Latin American, Black, and Asian student groups as well as various social justice groups.
MACHETERO usually screens with a post screening Q&A with writer, producer and director vagabond (me). The film is a dense and layered mix of poetry, music, text, history and post-colonial theory placed within a fictional narrative framework in a manner never before conceived. The film is not just a film about revolution, but is revolutionary in it’s very form.
MACHETERO has engendered discussion, dialogue and debate on a variety of issues. There have been discussions about anti-colonial Puerto Rican history, the history of US imperialism and Puerto Rico’s global connection to the other anti-imperialist struggles. Dialogues have also incorporated the topics of filmmaking aesthetics, underground guerrilla filmmaking tactics, and the role of art as a tool for social change. The film has also sparked debates around questioning of the definition and use of the terms “terrorism” and “terrorists” and how those terms are defined and used, who defines them and how they benefit from such definitions and labels.
There have also been MACHETERO screening events in the past that have included former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. Dylcia served 20 years in prison for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico. Before she went to prison she was a TV producer, journalist and documentarian and so she has a unique perspective on the film and on the power of media in general. She also plays a pivotal role in MACHETERO. Her history and insights into the struggle against colonialism in Puerto Rico and how it’s connected to other global struggles is invaluable.
WHAT FOLKS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE FILM
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The genome of my six-time international award-winning feature film MACHETERO can be mapped right back to the NYC hardcore Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION and their first album Liberation Day. When i write i often build a soundtrack to use as an emotional roadmap to guide me through the construction of the script. i often see songs as short stories or reinterpret them as short stories and i take those short stories and try to include them in my writing process.
MACHETERO is a film about terrorism and terrorists and how those terms are defined and by whom. The script was written a year after the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. i was waiting for a more nuanced analysis of those events to take place on a larger scale but they never did and so i wrote the script for MACHETERO and decided to explore those issues in a film. The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 were polarizing and so referencing them in the script seemed counterproductive so i decided to use the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence and the use of violence in that struggle as a means of liberation to talk about terrorism and terrorists.
RICANSTRUCTION’s Liberation Day was a concept album based around the Puerto Rican independence struggle. So when i was looking for music to inspire my scriptwriting for MACHETERO i was immediately drawn to Liberation Day. The songs from Liberation Day started to insinuate themselves into the script and they eventually became a part of the structure of the film.
At the end of the final sound mix for MACHETERO my friend and fellow filmmaker Omar came by and brought his camera to interview Arturo and Joseph Rodriguez about how Liberation Day came into being. Artie and Joey talk about how RICANSTRUCTION came about and how the concept for Liberation Day took shape. Arturo and Joseph talk about the ideas and the creation of each song and afterward there is the corresponding scene from MACHETERO.
RICANSTRUCTION’s Liberation Day is available on iTunes and i highly recommend picking it up. You can hear all the influences of Jazz, Funk, Salsa, Hip hop, Reggae and Merengue placed into a hardcore punk setting in the music of RICANSTRUCTION. The rest of their catalog – the EP Abu Jamal and their 2nd album Love + Revolution are also on iTunes.
You can watch The Liberation Day Tapes on the Vimeo On Demand page for MACHETERO. The Liberation Day Tapes are part of a collection of extra videos that give some background information on the film and that are free to watch. There is also a radio interview i did with Chuck D about the film and an interview i did with Sam Greenlee the author and co-screenwriter of The Spook Who Sat By The Door. There is also a scene from the film featuring former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan who plays a pivotal role in the film.
These are scenes from AMOR Y RABIA an unfinished and incomplete film i began shooting in 1999 and 2000 … i’ve posted a few other scenes from the film… Don’t Want Your Authority and God Is An Anarchist… It was a pre-apocalyptic film about three anarchists who are dissatisfied with the world they live in so they go on a road trip to find a better place. When they don’t find one they decide to start a revolution in order to create a space that will allow them to live in peace. In essence they help to bring about the apocalypse, which seems like a bad thing but when you see the state of the world an apocalypse could be just what we need to turn everything around…
In this scene from the film two of the main characters, Rudeboy (played by me) and Flea (played by my girlfriend Resister) are struggling to live outside of the system. They have set-up home in an abandon factory. i wanted the scene to show that even though they were living hard and for all intents and purposes homeless they were happy…
The film was shot on 16mm Kodak film recans and short ends (film that usually comes in 400′ rolls and isn’t completely shot and either re-canned or left un-shot), with a Bolex… It was a kind of musical where no one sang but music helped to tell the story… The music is a song entitled Come Along by the Black Arks which i think was a Lee “Scratch” Perry production since he had a studio called the Black Ark and the production of the track has Scartch’s DNA all over it…
The film was never completed because due to a lack of funds… And finding the money to make this film was going to be more than difficult because the way that the three anarchists start the revolution is by killing cops. It was an artistic response to the police brutality NYC was experiencing during the mayoral years of Adolf Ghouliani… A piece of cinematic resistance… A push back against the shitstem and its ongoing violence… It’s sad to know that this film will never be completed, it would have been interesting to see how it turned out in the end…
It would have been good to see this film come to fruition because there were so many ideas that i was experimenting with that i really believed wholeheartedly would work. i was trying to create a new cinematic language by incorporating silent era film storytelling techniques and mixing that with music video like units strung together as a kind of musical to allow the story to be told as much as possible through music…
There were other ideas i had wanted to take a risk with, such as shooting all the scenes that had cops in them in video and blurring their faces out like an inverted episode of COPS… Amor Y Rabia never happened… And the chances of it happening in the future are slim to none… It’s difficult when a project never comes to fruition… like watching a child never grow up… Sometimes being an artist is the best thing in the world… other times it just heart breaking…
In honor of El Grito De lares an interview by Puerto Rican journalist Daisy Sanchez circa 1990 with the FBI’s #1 most wanted man at the time, Puerto Rican revolutionary Comandante Filiberto Ojdea Rios is live and available for rental on Vimeo On Demand. Watch it on your TV, Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Phone.
The island nation of Puerto Rico has been a colony for over 500 years. It went from being a colony of Spain for 400 years to being a colony of the US in 1898. The US is still to this day a colonial power in Puerto Rico. Throughout that time there has been a long and rich history of resistance to colonialism in Puerto Rico. Filiberto Ojeda Rios figures prominently as one of the great leaders for independence in Puerto Rico.
Comandante Filiberto who was the father of the underground armed resistance movement in Puerto Rico and in the United States. In 1967 he founded MIRA, Movimento Independetista Revolucionario Armado (Armed Revolutionary Independence Movement). Shortly after that he had a hand in forming the FALN, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nationalista (Armed Forces for National Liberation) in the United States. He also founded the EPB, Ejercito Popular Boricua (Popular Puerto Rican Army) affectionately known as Los Macheteros. All of these groups used clandestine guerilla warfare tactics against the United States in an effort to free Puerto Rico from colonial rule and all of the groups were considered terrorist organizations by the United States.
On September 23, 1990 while awaiting trial for a 1983 Wells Fargo depot robbery Filiberto cut off his electronic shackle and went underground in Puerto Rico. September 23rd is a date significant importance in Puerto Rico. In 1868 there was a violent rebellion against Spanish colonial rule in a mountain town called Lares and though the attempt at liberation did not succeed it brought about an end to slavery in Puerto Rico. Filiberto taking his electronic shackle off on that particular day in 1990 was more than a coincidence.
On September 23rd, 2005 Filiberto was assassinated by the FBI after they attempted to arrest him by surrounding his house in Puerto Rico. He was shot and wounded but left to bleed to death for over 24 hours. His assassination on that particular day was an attempt to kill the spirit of the independence movement.
This television interview was conducted while Filiberto was living clandestinely. From the information that we have gathered the interview took place sometime around 1990, a few months after Filiberto went underground and was the most watched television program in the history of Puerto Rico. At the time of this interview Filiberto was #1 on the top ten list of the FBI’s most wanted. His most wanted status remained until September 11, 2001. The interview was conducted with Daisy Sanchez, a courageous journalist who endured her own trials and tribulations when she refused to give up her sources on how she got the interview with Filiberto, to the FBI.
COMANDANTE FILIBERTO CLANDESTINA CLANDESTINE
You can rent and watch the interview on Vimeo On Demand for $2.50 and you have 48 hours to watch it. That’s plenty of time to watch it, digest it, watch it again, think on it and even get a third screening in. Watch it on your TV, Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Phone.