“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…