A T-shirt of the DEFIENDE LO TUYO is available from RICANSTRUCTED
A T-shirt of the DEFIENDE LO TUYO is available from RICANSTRUCTED
The essay below was written by Comandante Filiberto Ojeda Rios on a past plebiscite on the status of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a colony of the US and has been since 1898 and there have been several plebiscites that tried to untangle the colonial political reality of the island nation. On November 6th, while Americans were voting in a Presidential election, Puerto Ricans were voting on a plebiscite that once again dealt with the status issue of Puerto Rico. For more information on that check out my essay The Disenchanted Island.
Comandante Filiberto was the founder and leader of the EPB – (Ejercito Popular Boricua – the Popular Puerto Rican Army), a clandestine organization whose goal was to achieve Puerto Rican independence by any means necessary. US law enforcement agencies have classified the EPB also know more affectionately by Puerto Ricans as Los Macheteros, as a terrorist organization. In 1990 Comandante Filiberto was arrested, on bail and awaiting trial for his involvement in the Macheteros Wells Fargo Armored Truck Robbery. On September 23rd of 1990 he cut off the electronic shackle on his ankle and went underground. He lived in Puerto Rico clandestinely for 15 years but gave television, radio and newspapers interviews, wrote articles and essays and sent audio messages out on the colonization of Puerto Rico throughout that whole time. On September 23rd of 2005, 15 years to the day he went underground and a day that Puerto Ricans celebrate the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, the FBI surrounded his home, shot him in a shootout and left him to bleed to death for over 24 hours.
THE ELECTORAL PROCESS OF COLONIAL DEMOCRACY
by Comandante Filiberto Ojeda Rios
Already the teams and fanatics are preparing for the next four years of national sport spectacle that is nothing short of the great human tragedy known as “the electoral process of colonial democracy”. It is a process that has its roots in deception, lies, manipulations, politicking, in illusions and disillusions. In short, it serves to promote and benefit ignorance and the alienation that is well programmed into the unconsciousness or in the opportunism that is found in a good amount of our people.
We have seen, above all things, division: between social castes and sectors that drive our people towards their cravings to provide a (paid) service to the slave masters of the metropolitan government. Those who promote and know how to benefit from so much ideological misfortune, their colors are blue and red, although their projects have nothing to do with the fidelity that is supposedly represented by the color blue. Such fidelity is not offered to the people. Instead it is demanded from them for the benefit of their privileged caste. Neither is red represented well since it has nothing to do with sacrifice nor with the blood shed by martyrs who believe in our nation, in our liberty and in true justice. It instead represents the opportunism of those who appropriate our human condition, intending to reduce us to the level of tamed slaves for the glorification of degenerated values and demoralization.
It has been said repeatedly, that we Macheteros do not believe in the electoral process. This is false. Expressions of such nature serve to confuse our people and to present the Macheteros as an anti-democratic organization, as one of arbitrary tendencies and perhaps autocratic ones as well. This is what could be inferred but it is a great falsehood. We believe in a true electoral process that would be regulated by strict standards of a democratic character. To that end, we would be fully involved in the electoral process when it would be carried out within a nation that is free and sovereign, but never while we continue to exist as a colony. Moreover, we do not believe in the interpretation of the word “democracy” that has been imposed on us, which goes against the very essence and truth contained within it. What has come to be understood as “democracy” is nothing other than the legalization of the powerful economic sectors’ appropriation of all that can supply major riches and possibilities for the control of humanity via robbery, pillage and the invasion of territories. For this, they have necessitated a system that would allow them to legalize their crimes and plunder in the entire world and one that would have, in a most convincing manner, the appearance of having the support of all the population. This is their so-called “democracy”. History is packed with examples of this indisputable truth. It is a system in which the rulers of gigantic economic monopolies, particularly the rulers of prime resources of strategic importance, seek to legitimize their criminal intentions by legalizing those very crimes. The methodology: the invention of a very poor excuse for “democracy”, planned, created and directed by them. This is the same thing that we in Puerto Rico have called “colony by consent”, legitimized by the colonial electoral process under the guise of a “democratic system”.
Secondly, we must admit that it has been very painful for us to see the sad role played by the comrades of the Puerto Rican Independence Party in this electoral process, to see youth who have filled their spirits with hope, holding down the front of their national committee and be victims of the heat of certain members of the New Progressive Party. Independently of the results, independent of the fact that we have never been nor will we ever be in favor of the electoral process in the colony, the final results have not failed to certainly cause us pain and uneasiness. In the end, we feel obligated to condemn all types of insults, mockeries, offensive words, as well as any exploitive tendencies lashed out at the political bullring by those who desire the worst for the PIP (Pro Independence Party) without at least calmly evaluating the state of the situation in general, and, above all, without “acknowledging the dust in own eyes”. We equally criticize the negative expressions and decisions made by some leaders of said organization to interpret the reasons of the electoral misfortunes.
The present moment is for profound reflection oriented towards the harmonizing of all independentistas. It’s not for the immediate opportunist impulse to fish in rough waters. The real conjuncture, if we know how to act correctly and collectively, could very well offer a new possibility for a sane and proper regrouping. It is not with offenses, nor with offensives to “substitute the traditional electoral party”, that we will succeed in becoming a true liberationist movement for our nation. It is not by lunging forward like vultures to feed on the spoils of what some claim to be a total misfortune. Instead it is with true reflection, with respect, with profound and serious analysis, and most of all, with the elimination of this tragic arrogance that has so destroyed us Puerto Ricans and that has to be overcome by true maturity and brotherhood.
“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…
“Never let your schooling interfere with your eduction”
“”I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.” – Mark Twain
“I first learned of Manifest Destiny in American History in Junior High School. To me it has always meant that one could set goals, work hard, and achieve their dreams. Having the opportunity to design for the Gap was the realization of one of my dreams. This phrase and they way I used it was in no way meant to be offensive or hurtful, and I apologize to those who might have interpreted it in that manner.”
- Mark McNairy designer of the MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt for the Gap
If you’re looking for evidence of how stupid and racist American imperialism can make you, look no further than the MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt that was released by the Gap. The designer Mark McNairy thought he was taking a political ideology of imperial empowerment and reclaiming it as a personal improvement slogan. Don’t know what Manifest Destiny is? … Then consider this to be a teachable moment for you… The question is, is it possible for white people to go all through their lives and not know that touting the benefits of Manifest Destiny is not a good thing? It would seem so… But when you analyze it further it sadly doesn’t seem that far-fetched. When i think about on my own schooling i remember how American imperialism was buffed to a shine so that it became easy to gloss over, slavery, women’s suffrage, the labor struggles of the late 19th and early 20th century, and the civil rights era, just to name a few things that come to mind. So the fact that Mark McNairy came out of Junior High School thinking that Manifest Destiny was a positive ideology is not that far off.
However it’s not just Mark McNairy who isn’t aware that Manifest Destiny is an ideology of imperialism with its roots firmly planted in racism, but everyone at the Gap and at GQ Magazine which seems to have had a hand in the collaboration between Mr McNairy and the Gap. It seems that this design got past everyone at the Gap and GQ and made it all the way to being a product that they were selling online. That is of course until an online petition started by AIM Southern California (AIM = American Indian Movement) got together a few thousand signatures and shamed the Gap into removing it from their stores. What’s shocking is that no one, at the Gap or GQ or even Mark McNairy thought even for a moment to do even the slightest research on Manifest Destiny before charging forward with this offensive idea. Or maybe they did and didn’t give a damn anyway? Either way that kind of thinking comes with the territory when it comes to white privilege. In the eyes of whiteness the world is designed (pun intended) and shaped by white people for their benefit. Manifest Destiny as an imperialist ideology rooted in racism that justified the slaughter of millions of indigenous people in the Americas and the Caribbean, is just a sidebar to the new brand of ironic hipster racism.
The implications of this are so wide and so deep that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong… i’d like to throw the idea out there that things went wrong (and continue to go wrong) with the education system in this country. It’s a system that force feeds a warped white washed view of American history in order to indoctrinate the populace into pliability for the ongoing Manifest Destiny in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continued Manifest Destiny of American colonies like Puerto Rico. The problem with this kind of education is that it runs headlong into an opposing view outside of the classroom. In the real world Manifest Destiny is just as bad an ideology as Nazism. That however didn’t stop Mark McNairy from defending his MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt design with this tweet as his initial response when the uproar began… MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. The fittest, get it? The fittest…? As in T-shirt, as in fashion…? There seems to be no end to this ironic brand of hipster racism that comes from white people believing that the election of President Obama is the beginning of post-racism.
This won’t stop here, because American imperialism needs a compliant populace to support its imperialist adventures around the world and the seeds of that compliance are sown in the American education system. The recent naming of the mission to get Osama Bin Laden as Operation Geronimo is another example of the failure (or success, depending on your politics) of an American imperialist education. (Check out my thoughts on that in A Rejection of American Mythology Part I and Part II) The ongoing elevation and hero-worship of Columbus, who was the harbinger of the holocaust of indigenous people in the Caribbean and in the Americas. It’s an ongoing and never-ending assault. The saddest part to all of this, is not that this happened, but that it will happen again and again and again because what can be sown from imperialist seeds planted within the American educational system but the yielding of an imperialist crop…?
A few years ago i started a T-shirt company called RICANSTRUCTED dedicated to the independence of Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. i’ve done a few of my own designs that were created to created discussion and dialogue about some of these issues… If you’re looking for something for an alternative to the Gap’s Manifest Destiny and the rewritten version of America’s imperialist version of history, then look no further…
To get more info on the Manifest Destiny Record Company check out Record OF Empire…
For more info on this design check out Enjoy Colonialism…
To order any of the designs above and check out more anti-imperialist designs check out RICANSTRUCTED…
To check out some other designs of an anarcho nature check out AUDIO VISUAL TERRORISM…
Today is Dylcia Pagan’s birthday. If you don’t know who Dylcia Pagan is then that’s probably by design. To know Dlycia is to know is to know that Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898 and this isn’t a fact that the US likes to highlight as it supposedly beats the drum for democracy and freedom around the world from North Korea to Afghanistan. So not knowing who Dylcia is, is by design, because to not know Dylcia is to not know that the US has been a colonizing power in Puerto Rico for over a hundred years. Why are Dylcia and Puerto Rico’s colonialism so inextricably linked? Because Dylcia is a former US held political prisoner of war who spent 20 years in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism.
Dylcia was a member of the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional or the Armed Forces of National Liberation), a clandestine Puerto Rican group that used any and all means, including military means, to achieve the liberation of Puerto Rico from US colonialism. They were labeled a terrorist group by US law enforcement and they were hunted down as such. On April 4th of 1980, the FBI arrested a number of FALN member in Illinois and Dylcia was among those arrested. She was charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. During her trial, she and her co-defendants chose to take a prisoner of war status as was their right under the Geneva Convention. The US legal system refused to recognize their status as Prisoners of War and Dylcia and her co-defendants refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the US government. In the end the US government found them guilty and sentenced them to incredibly long prison terms. Dylcia was sentenced to 63 years.
In September of 1999, President Clinton pardoned Dylcia and nine other Puerto Rican political prisoners of war. She’s been living in Loiza, Puerto Rico since she was release. Although Dylcia is best known as being a freedom fighter, it’s only a part of who she is, her story and the sacrifices she made for her ideals make her a heroine, not just for Puerto Ricans, not just for women, but for all of us… Check out the short film below i did of Dylcia where she’s tells her own story…
For more info on Dylcia Pagan visit her website…
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1
Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, a Puerto Rican revolutionary member of the EPB (Ejerctio Popular Boricua – Popular Puerto Rican Army also known as Los Macheteros) a clandestine armed organization that fought and continues to fight for the freedom of Puerto Rico from US colonial rule, was recently arrested and charged in taking part in the 1983, $7 million Wells Fargo Robbery in Hartford Connecticut that the Macheteros successfully pulled off. Norberto had been a FBI fugitive since 1985, living his life clandestinely until he was captured by the FBI. He was facing 15 various charges.
Just before he was captured his brother Avelino Gonzalez Claudio who was also a Machetero and living in clandestinity was captured and charged with playing a role in the same robbery. He was a 67-year-old grandfather who was diagnosed with Parkinsons when he was arrested. He pled guilty to conspiracy to rob the Wells Fargo armored truck and to transporting the money to Mexico. The Macheteros used the money to finance the anti-imperialist struggles of Puerto Rico and other Latin American nations. Avelino’s now serving a 7 year sentence. He’s been in prison since 2008 in a maximum security prison and is “classified as a special supervision case, due to the involvement in a domestic terrorist group.” Avelino is also “classified as a broad publicity case, due to the amount of widespread publicity, your case received.”
The hubris of the US government seems to know no bounds, even as it goes so far in classifying Puerto Rican political prisoners, as “domestic terrorists”. The Puerto Rican freedom fighters who have sacrificed so much for the liberation of Puerto Rico are not even afforded the respect of being political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in a war for liberation. It’s somewhat understandable since to recognize the existence of Puerto Rican political prisoners would be to recognize the colonization of Puerto Rico and in the eyes of the US, Puerto Rico is a “free associated state”, a “commonwealth”, a “territory” of the US. The semantics it uses to avoid the reality that the US is a colonizer of nations is astounding and when taken out of the binary context of imperialism and looked at through a dialectic prism is clear evidence of guilt.
On June 16th, it was reported that Norberto accepted a plea deal in which he pled guilty to 5 charges. He wrote a letter to the judge “admitting” his guilt. i say “admitting” because according to the United Nations colonized nations, such as Puerto Rico, are afforded, any and all means available to them, towards the struggle of their liberation (UN Resolution 1514). If Norberto and his brother Avelino are guilty it’s only in the eyes of an illegitimate foreign power. In the eyes of the rest of the world the Wells Fargo appropriation is a part of a larger struggle for liberation.
Norberto will face a sentencing hearing and unfortunately will continue to be counted as a Puerto Rican political prisoner like his brother Avelino and like Oscar Lopez Rivera who has served 31 years as a Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war. And while the US chooses to satisfy itself with these charades of national laws and legality and hide its imperialism in the “rule of law”, it ignores international law as Puerto Rico continues to languish under US colonial rule. Legality is important to the US when it comes to the robbery of money, but its unimportant in the robbery of nations… How will the US explain it’s actions when Puerto Ricans free themselves from the yoke of US colonialism? How will it exhibit it’s shame in the eyes of the world? Will it have the courage of its convictions to plead guilty to the crime of colonialism? It’ll be a curious thing to see…
Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican revolutionary fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. On May 29th of 1981 Oscar was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. As of today he will have served 31 years in prison. Below is a message sent by Oscar on his 31st anniversary. Below that are ways in which you can find more information on Oscar and the campaign to set him free.
OLR • May 29, 2012
Greetings with Much Respect and Love
i want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Puerto Rican people in PR and in the diaspora for the support you have given me during the past 31 years. i also want to express the same gratitude to the freedom and justice loving people in the u.s. and in different parts of the world for the solidarity they’ve shared with me. The support i’ve received has been a fountain of strength that has helped me face and deal with the difficult challenges i’ve experienced in prison during the past 31 years, and to remain morally and spiritually strong to continue struggling and resisting.
The 31 years seem to have passed fleetingly. Many radical changes have occurred all over the world during this period of time. In Latin America progressive presidents rule in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina. In the last two countries the presidents are progressive women. And in Puerto Rico the us navy is no longer present in Vieques. Unfortunately, the most important change Puerto Ricans need has not taken place. Because colonialism seems to be more entrenched now than ever.
It was Jose Marti who said that for a people to be free they needed to be cultured. i believe Puerto Ricans are a cultured people. Yet we still are a colonized people. We are also a morally, mentally, spiritually strong people. But we haven’t been able to make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.
It was Albert Einstein who said that by repeating the same experiment the results were always going to be the same. Doing that is nothing else than an exercise in futility. And Puerto Rican independentists have been repeating the same experiment for decades and obtaining the same results without being able to achieve their goal of an independent and sovereign nation. The celebration of plebiscites has been such an experiment. So why do we continue engaging in Sisyphean tasks? What should we do? Let’s pay heed to Einstein’s wise warning.
My proposal is a simple one. Let’s work on the problems we can resolve with the means and resources we have at our disposal. For example, let’s take one problem related to the health issue we are facing – obesity. To resolve this problem a simple change in lifestyle will do. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and create a support network. We can also start programs of urban gardening. There’s space for such a program in the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. And in those spaces we can grow healthy products that can help with a nutritional diet. We can look for alternative sources of energy and of transportation. Let’s start thinking of changes we can make in our lifestyles and we can resolve some of the difficult problems we face. Problems shouldn’t intimidate or scare us. They should produce ideas in our heads and challenge us to find solutions. Finding solutions to problems give us confidence, and help us transcend our colonized mentality. And that transcendence gets us closer to our goal of achieving an independent and sovereign nation and a better and more just world. We are intelligent enough to know what needs to be done. We can change lifestyles in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora and by doing so we will grow stronger morally, physically, spiritually and mentally. We can make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.
En resistencia y lucha,
WE CAN FREE OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA
JOIN THE MOVEMENT TO FREE OSCAR
Alejandro Luis Molina
National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago IL 60622
Follow us on Twitter: olrcat
Comité Pro-Derechos Humanos
ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
Shortlink: – http://wp.me/p1eniL-KK
About a week ago Quique Cruz who is a big supporter of my first feature film MACHETERO (which won six awards around the world) asked if he could use a clip from the film to do a remix… i met Quique a few years ago online when he reached out to me after seeing a clip of a scene from MACHETERO on YouTube that featured former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. The clip he saw was called The History Lesson. About a year and a half later MACHETERO was invited to screen at the San Diego Black Film Festival and Quique drove down to see the film. Check out his review of it…
The scene he wanted to remix was something i had posted, almost as a short film, that summarized over 500 years of Puerto Rican resistance to foreign imperialism in about 3 minutes. i had dubbed the scene The History Lesson… i know Quique and his politics are in the right head space and his heart is dedicated to Puerto Rican independence, so it was easy for me to say yes. A while back, Quique asked me to do some artwork for a single he dropped called The New Code Of The Streets, so we have collaborated before. There’s a mutual respect that we have for each other’s work and with that respect comes trust and unfortunately that’s not something you find everyday so it’s something i value. Quique is a good brother and everyone should both check out and keep up with his work as an artist… Here is what what he did with a remix of The History Lesson from MACHETERO…
Shortlink: – http://wp.me/p1eniL-HO
“I didn’t walk into prison and say ‘Hey, I want to be a political prisoner’ – you know, they put a gun to my head and said… ‘Let’s go’. – Carlos Alberto Torres
Carlos Alberto Torres is also an artist & potter. You can check out his work at