“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1, 2
On November 14th, US held Puerto Rican political prisoner Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, will be sentenced for his role in the $7 million dollar Wells Fargo armored truck expropriation executed by the Macheteros in 1983. There’s a lot of assumed information in that one statement so let me lay down some background history to provide a context. Puerto Rico is a colony of the US and has been since 1898. Throughout that time Puerto Rico has struggled in a variety of ways to gain its independence. One of those way has been through violent armed struggle. The Macheteros (also know as the EPB – Ejercito Popular Boricua, or the Popular Boricua Army) were a clandestine armed organization that used military means to achieve independence from US colonial rule. (As a side note the use of revolutionary violence is something that is recognized by the United Nations in resolution 1514 which allows colonized nations to use any and all means to free themselves.) In 1983 the Macheteros robbed a Wells Fargo Armored Truck in Hartford Connecticut for $7 million dollars and used the money to finance anti-imperialist actions for Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.
Norberto was a member of the Macheteros and after the robbery he was wanted by the FBI and so he was forced to go underground. He was 66 years old when the FBI apprehended him. He was charged with the Wells Fargo Armored Truck Robbery and possession of a machine gun which was found when they raided his home in Cayey, Puerto Rico. At the trial Norberto was facing a maximum of 15 years for the Wells Fargo Robbery and a maximum of 10 years for the machine gun possession. Rather than potentially looking at 25 years and possibly dying in prison Norberto agreed to a plea deal that was offered where he would serve 5 years in prison. Which is five years too long.
The Macheteros were labeled a “terrorist” organization by US law enforcement. Norberto is being labeled a “criminal” and a “terrorist”. Norberto’s now a 67-year-old man, who’s been convicted of a crime that took place 30 years ago, a crime that was a part of a larger struggle to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. His older brother Avelino Gonzalez Claudio is 70 years old and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, he’s also a US held Puerto Rican political prisoner who was recently captured in 2010 and is now serving a seven-year sentence for his involvement in the Wells Fargo Armored Truck robbery. Both of these men were forced to go underground after the robbery and lived clandestine lives for almost three decades because of their designation by US law enforcement as “terrorists”. The labeling of Norberto and Avelino as “terrorists” is political semantics, it sets the stage for theatrical political grandstanding. Norberto and Avelino are no more “terrorist” than George Washington and Paul Revere. The theft of $7 million dollars from the Wells Fargo Robbery is no more an act of terrorism than the Boston Tea Party. The designation of them as “terrorists” negates the legitimacy of Puerto Rico to struggle for its independence. This creative semantics places the US government in a position to define what is “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist”, it’s a definition that determines the illegitimacy of a liberation struggle.
The sentencing of Norberto and Avelino is political theater used to unearth the theft of an armored truck in 1983 and to bury the theft of a nation in 1898. The greater crime of colonialism in Puerto Rico goes unrecognized in these carefully constructed spectacles masquerading as trials. The idea that these men who are 67 and 70 can be convicted of a 30-year-old crime, while not considering the 115 year old crime of colonialism is an inversion of reality. Only in an upside down world can this make sense. The reason for turning the world upside down? To make what’s wrong, right and to make what’s right, wrong. To put the world right side up is to recognize the greater crime of colonialism. Puerto Rico generates approximately $35 billion annually of which approximately $1 billion comes back to Puerto Rico. What’s the bigger crime here? The continued exploitation of a nation or the robbery of an armored truck? The Macheteros were making a point with the Wells Fargo Truck Expropriation, it’s symbolic on the level of microcosm that widens the perspective to the level of macrocosm allowing everyone to see the colonization, (the theft) of a nation, but the symbolism of it seems to go unseen and unheard by the US government as it continues to put on these elaborate charades of legality in the face of immorality…
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3 – 5
There will be demonstrations scheduled for Norberto’s sentencing on November 14th at the courthouse in Hartford Connecticut, at the Federal building in downtown Manhattan, in New York City and in Puerto Rico, to let it be known that resistance will continue as long as the world is upside down and Puerto Rico is a colony…