“One mans terrorist, is another mans revolutionary.”
– Moises Pagan Santos (my grandfather)
“In our communique number 2 we warned the North American government that to terrorize and kill our people would mean retaliation by us. This was not an empty warning.”
– FALN Communique #3
“It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American “command and control infrastructure” in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a “legitimate” target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than “collateral damage”. If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these “standards” when they are routinely applied to other people, they should not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.”
— Ward Churchill , Statement to Rocky Mountain News
A few days ago the NY Daily News ran an article describing the FALN bombing of Fraunces Tavern in 1975. It was yellow journalism at its best. Anemic on facts but obese on sensationalism. There is no historical context or background explanation on how or why “a tiny group terrorists bent on Puerto Rican independence” would strike at “corporate executives”, just the spectacle of terrorism in service to flimsy jingoism. A self-righteous tone of superiority trumps the facts in an effort to prop up the zombie of patriotic fervor that naturally assumes that the US government and her “corporative executives” have nothing to do with the colonization of Puerto Rico.
And so it falls on me (and others like me) to set this broken record straight. First things first. Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. The FALN – the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, the Armed Forces of National Liberation were a clandestine armed force that operated in the US in the 1970’s and 1980’s and used any and all means at their disposal to rid Puerto Rico of US colonialism. Oscar Lopez Rivera was a member of the FALN. He was arrested in 1980 and charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. He claimed a prisoner of war status and refused to take part in the trial outside of an opening and closing statement. He was found guilt and sentenced to 70 years.
The NY Daily News article places the responsibility of the deaths of the four businessmen on the shoulders of Oscar. However there was no evidence that linked Oscar to the Fraunces Tavern bombing. Oscar was never charged with the Fraunces Tavern bombing. Oscar is not in prison for the Fraunces Tavern bombing. This myth that Oscar had anything to do with the Fraunces Tavern bombing has been continually propagated as a rallying cry against the FALN. The FALN were at war with the US government in the same way that the American Revolutionaries were at war with the British. The targeting of Fraunces Tavern which played a prominent role in the American Revolution is not mere coincidence but a means towards making a bold statement about the origins of this countries colonialism and its battle for independence. Claiming that the Fraunces Tavern bombing is an act of terrorism is not much different from the British viewing the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism. But nothing blinds like one who refuses to see.
The FALN claimed responsibility for the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in retaliation to a CIA bombing of a restaurant in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico where two Puerto Rican independence supporters were killed and ten others were maimed including a six-year-old child. No one was ever prosecuted for that Fraunces Tavern bombing action. The irony of all this is that the yellow journalism being used by the NY Daily News is the same yellow journalism used to stoked the fires of the Spanish-American War of 1898. It was that war that led to the colonization of Puerto Rico by the US. Now all these years later it continues to haunt Puerto Ricans in our struggle to achieve independence.
When Oscar is released from prison and comes home to be received like the rightful hero that he is and Puerto Rico is free from US colonialism, there won’t be a newspaper large enough for the US government and the lackeys who supported it to hide their shame…