What Is The 4th Of July To A Puerto Rican?


Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand
Six Time International Award Winning Film MACHETERO On Vimeo On Demand

Originally published on 7/4/10 and republished on 7/4/11, 7/4/12, 7/4/13… and in keeping with what has become a tradition… Republished today…

“Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. “

– Fredrick Douglass

Summer 1898, during the Spanish American War a rag-tag volunteer force of machete wielding sugar cane working Puerto Ricans known as Macheteros fought alongside the Spanish to repel the US forces that invaded Puerto Rico on July 25th. In the center of the island just outside of the mountain town of Aibonito in the mountain pass of Asomante the Macheteros fought the advancing US military to a standstill and then to a retreat. It was the greatest victory for the Macheteros. But the victory was short-lived when the Spanish surrendered to the US and the fighting ceased a few days later. In the process the island nation of Puerto Rico went from 400 years of Spanish colonial rule to US colonial rule. The true shame of it is that Puerto Rico was on the verge of gaining it’s independence from Spain when the Spanish-American War broke out. On December 10th of 1898 the Treaty Of Paris was signed and the US officially took control of the Spanish colonial possessions of the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. The colonization of Puerto Rico is the adolescence of US foreign imperialism. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

March 2nd, 1917, the Jones-Sahforth Act made Puerto Ricans citizens of the US without any consultation on the part of Puerto Ricans. Two months after that 18,000 Puerto Rican men were conscripted into the US military to fight in WWI. The US military needed to swell the ranks of it’s African-American canon fodder with Puerto Ricans where they were put to fight in segregated regiments. Many of these Puerto Rican troops were sent to Panama to be human guinea pigs in US chemical gas experiments where 335 of them were wounded. The Pentagon and the War Department never kept data on how many Puerto Ricans were killed or wounded in the war. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

Post World War I the US government began a wide-spread program of population control in Puerto Rico. They began sterilizing Puerto Rican women. The sterilization of these women was done without their knowledge and consent or was done by misinforming the women of the permanence of the sterilization procedure. By 1965 one-third of Puerto Rican women were systematically sterilized. The imperial design of the US was that they wanted Puerto Rico but not Puerto Ricans. So what is the 4th of July to Puerto Ricans?

October 20th, 1935 the founder and leader of the Nationalist Party Don Pedro Albizu Campos gives a radio address in which he criticizes a program to “Americanize” the University Of Puerto Rico that is being instituted by US colonial interests. A group of students in support of the measure want Albizu declared “Student Enemy Number One”. On October 24th Albizu is declared “persona non-grata” at a university demonstration. Students supporting Albizu respond in protest. Four Nationalists are killed by the police on that day which becomes forever etched into the history of Puerto Rico as the Rio Piedras Massacre. Eye witness evidence of the massacre is ignored and the police involved in the killing are promoted. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

February 23rd, 1936 Colonel Francis Riggs who is the commanding officer of the police on the island is assassinated by Nationalists Hiram Rosado and Elias Beauchamp in retaliation for the Rio Piedras Massacre. The two Nationalists are caught by the police and executed without a trial right after the press takes their picture. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

March 12, 1937 Palm Sunday several hundred Puerto Ricans gathered in the city of Ponce to celebrate the abolition of slavery and to protest the incarceration of independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos on charges of sedition. Hours before the protest was to take place the Governor of the island Blanton Winship (installed by President Roosevelt) revoked the permit they had received from Ponce’s Puerto Rican mayor. In defiance to the revoked permit they marched anyway. Lines of policemen with rifles and machine guns were set up to meet the protesters in their defiance. The demonstrators would not be turned around by the threat of violence. They marched forward singing “La Boriqueña” the Puerto Rican national anthem. The police fired on the crowd then chased and clubbed them as they tried to escape the violence, 235 were wounded and 19 killed. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

June 11th, 1948 a law known as “Ley de la Mordaza” banned the display of the Puerto Rican flag, banned the speaking of independence and outlawed the struggle for independence. On October 30th 1950, in response to that and other indignities that Puerto Ricans suffered under, a woman named Blanca Canales led an armed uprising of Nationalists in the mountain town of Jayuya in an effort to free Puerto Rico from the clutches of US colonial rule. The uprising was put down and thousands of Puerto Ricans were rounded up and arrested and given long harsh prison terms. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

November 1st , 1950 Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola made an attempt to assassinate President Truman. Griselio Torresola was killed in the attempt. Oscar Collazo was caught tried and sentenced to death. In 1952 the US renamed their colonial relationship with Puerto Rico a “Free Associated State” so that the US would not seem like an imperial power in the eyes of the world. Once again this was all done without the consultation of the Puerto Rican people. Oscar Collazo’s sentence was then commuted to life imprisonment, he served 27 years before an international people’s movement succeeded in freeing him and four other Nationalists. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

March 1st of 1954 four Nationalists Andres Figueroa, Irving Flores, Raphael Cancel Miranda and Lolita Lebron fired shots into the US House of Congress while it was in session. They unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and yelled “¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!”. The goal of the operation was to bring international attention to the fact that the US was an imperial power in Puerto Rico. Some 30 shots were fired and five congressmen wounded in the attack. They were caught and served 25 years in prison for fighting for the independence of their country. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

April 21, 1965 Don Pedro Albizu Campos the Nationalist leader dies of injuries he sustained from the radiation experiments that were conducted on him while he was serving a second prison term that held him responsible for the US House of Congress shooting. After 11 years of serving his sentence he is pardoned only to pass away a few months later in his home. So what is the 4th of July to a Puerto Rican?

April 4th, 1980 a group of 11 Puerto Rican members of the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional – Armed Forces of National Liberation) a clandestine organization fighting for the freedom of Puerto Rico using military means and labeled by US law enforcement as a “terrorist group”, are arrested in Evanston Illinois. The 11 are brought up on various state and federal charges but are all charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. In their trials they choose to take prisoner of war status under the United Nations Geneva Convention. As prisoners of war they refuse to recognize the US as having any legitimate power over them and because they chose this status they refuse to take part in their trials other than giving opening and closing statements. They are each found guilty and are sentenced to long harsh prison sentences. After 20 years some are pardoned and released. So what is the 4th Of July to a Puerto Rican?

April 19th, 1999 David Sanes a security guard was mistakenly killed by the US military during a bombing exercise on the island of Vieques that the US military used as a live exercise training area since 1941. His death galvanizes a successful peoples movement and Puerto Ricans go out into the military bombing zone to become human shields to get the US military out of Vieques. Although the US military has left Vieques it has not cleaned up the unexploded ordinance that litters the island. Among that ordinance is depleted uranium. The cancer rate in Vieques is 50% higher than it is in Puerto Rico. So what is the 4th of July to Puerto Ricans?

September 23rd, 2005, Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios is assassinated by the FBI on a what is considered a national holiday to Puerto Ricans. On September 23rd of 1868 an uprising against Spanish colonial rule is fought in an effort to gain independence. Puerto Ricans remember and commemorate the uprising as the birth of the Puerto Rican nation. Filiberto Ojeda Rios was the father of the clandestine armed movement in Puerto Rico, he founded the Ejercito Popular Boricua the EPB, the Popular Puerto Rican Army affectionately known as Los Macheteros and labeled a “terrorist group” by US law enforcement. He had been a fugitive and one of the most wanted men by the FBI for fifteen years. When the FBI assassinated Filiberto they shot and wounded him but purposely decided to deny him medical attention as he bled to death for over 24 hours. So what is the 4th of July to Puerto Ricans?

This is only a select list of transgressions. This is only a random sampling of the wrong done to a people who have rightfully sought their independence as Malcolm said “By any means necessary”. This is only a small taste of the last hundred years of struggle in a nation that has fought for it’s freedom since 1493 when Columbus “discovered the Americas”. These are the fragments of a hidden history, of an ongoing struggle, for independence intentionally kept from us (both Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans alike) so that we can celebrate the independence of a nation that stands in the way of another nation’s independence. As a point of clarity we Puerto Ricans are not asking for our freedom. We are trying to take it in much the same way that the US took it’s independence. The difference is that the British Empire did not pretend to be an advocate of global democracy and freedom it was an openly imperialist nation. The US on the other hand preens and primps itself as a global bastion of democracy and freedom while in the same breath holding a colony and denying the self-determination of the Puerto Rican people for over a century. Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the Western hemisphere so again I ask you what is the 4th of July to Puerto Rico?

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83 thoughts on “What Is The 4th Of July To A Puerto Rican?”

    1. This is NOT real history. I am by no means a fan of the US gov’t or it’s often abhorrent foreign policy. But these tidbits are sensationalized, oversimplified, and in some cases absolutely incorrect. i.e NOT real history

      1. What’s not correct here? is it a selected history? Yes… A selection of just a few of the atrocities committed by the US gov’t to Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans… But NONE of it absolutely NONE of it is incorrect… i know my history and it’s very easy for someone to check into the facts of these atrocities i raised…

      2. Vagabond, per your responses to my original comments:
        Re: sterilization program. Again, your article states that “the sterilization of these women was done without their knowledge and consent or was done by misinforming the women of the permanence of the sterilization procedure.” Again, I stick my comment below. I’m not in any way defending the program or the US Gov’t, but I am disputing your “facts.” Women were not “forced.” Some may have been deliberately misinformed by doctors, but history books (not recycled and growing mischaracterized web articles) state something like “some women didn’t understand the permanence of tubal ligation.” Other women were pressured by doctors to have the surgery when they were being treated for unrelated issues. Many poor women were pressured by an unfair hiring system by private business owners that gave preference to women who had the operation and wouldn’t leave their job once they became pregnant. And many, many, many poor women were happy with the size of their family, knew they couldn’t afford to feed any more hungry children, and could have sex with their husbands without that risk. Those are facts. You can describe the experiences of SOME women as “coerced” or “wrongly pressured,” but to state that ALL women were “forced” is not true. Like you said, “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

      3. Women were forced to be sterilized… One third of all Puerto Rican women were sterilized due to a Eugenics program that the US had not only in the US but in Puerto Rico… Name another country where 1/3 of the women were sterilized…?

        You can play with the wording… Coercion, misunderstanding, uneducated… the bottom line is that there was a program that was set out to sterilize Puerto Rican women in Puerto Rico… That’s some sinister shit not matter what euphemism you want to attach to it…

        Here is just one article states this clearly…

        http://stanford.edu/group/womenscourage/cgi-bin/blogs/familyplanning/2008/10/23/forced-sterilization-in-puerto-rico/

        When you add that to another medical atrocity that took place under Cornelius P. Rhoads with medical experiments designed to kill Puerto Ricans… When you look at the totality of these events it’s clear to see that the US wants PR but Puerto Ricans…

        Below is a quote from Rhoads from a letter he wrote…
        “I can get a damn fine job here and am tempted to take it. It would be ideal except for the Porto Ricans. They are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere. It makes you sick to inhabit the same island with them. They are even lower than Italians. What the island needs is not public health work but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population. It might then be livable. I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off 8 and transplanting cancer into several more. The latter has not resulted in any fatalities so far… The matter of consideration for the patients’ welfare plays no role here — in fact all physicians take delight in the abuse and torture of the unfortunate subjects.”

        And this was not the only evidence of Rhoads disdain for Puerto Ricans…

        When you look at the totality of these events it’s clear to see that the US wants PR but not Puerto Ricans…

      4. However, I don’t claim to be an expert on the sterilization program–I’m only re-hashing what I’ve read from unbiased sources. What I do have (more than some) expertise in is Vieques and Cancer rates. In fact, there are few, if any, individuals more qualified to comment on the subject. I have a Masters in Health Policy from Johns Hopkins University. I studied Epidemiology and Risk Analysis under the most respected experts on the planet. I have read all of the reports from the CDC and EPA. I spent years living in Vieques. And again, I am no defender of the U.S. Gov’t. I am disgusted by their foreign (and much of their domestic) policy. I marched in San Francisco against involvement in Iraq before the war started more than a decade ago. Thus I feel like I can report on the subject without bias. To keep it simple, below I will begin by listing facts–those that absolutely cannot be disputed–and then will list ideas/statements etc. that I believe to be accurate.

        Facts:
        1. The Cancer rate in Vieques is higher than the main island and the States. The figure cited by physicians and activists who argue that the bombing range is responsible for the high rate is 40% (not 50% as stated in your article). This rate was originally determined by a physician from the main island with some level of bias–i.e. they believed the high cancer rate was due to the range before the survey. I am not going to dispute this number and it is accepted as fact (by the gov’t by residents, by everyone) that the cancer rate is higher in Vieques.

        2. After years of study, the CDC did not find any link between the bombing range and the high cancer rates. I won’t go into the details of the study, but it was comprehensive and can be found at the following link:

        http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/vieques/overview.html

        3. What the report doesn’t mention are more obvious reasons why the cancer rate is higher in Vieques. To avoid bias, the study is designed to determine any causal relationship between the range, heavy metals and other toxins, and cancer rates, not to report alternative explanations.

        4. Vieques has a horrible, horrible obesity problem even compared to the main island and the States. the National Cancer Institute, among others, notes that research has proven than 4-7% of cancers in the U.S. are due to obesity. The high cancer rate in Vieques is disproportionately skewed to women. While there is no scientific explanation as to why toxins from the bombing range would adversely affect women at a greater rate than men, obesity in Vieques is heavily skewed toward women, at least in part due to the number of men involved in construction and other labor intensive occupations.

        5. Vieques is a poor place with a lower average level of education than the main island or the states. Public health knowledge is poor. Anecdotally, you will see behaviors here that you are much less likely to see here than on the main island: workers demolishing structures with old, treated wood containing arsenic and other heavy metals, or ripping out old linoleum tile possibly containing asbestos without wearing a particulate respirator, or a dust mask, or even a shirt wrapped around the face. People sitting in parked, running old cars with a baby on their lap–cars that are billowing exhaust that the baby is breathing. Residents here slather their homes in pesticides with little regard to health in order to keep cockroaches, ants, and other bugs that are common in a rural semi-tropical environment, at bay. I once saw the young (maybe 6 year old) daughter of a women with whom I am friendly eating a can of tuna. I asked her how much tuna her daughter ate and she responded, “a can a day.” That’s about 15 times higher than the recommended consumption of tuna for someone that age due to high mercury content in tuna. These are just anecdotes, but research has concluded that there is a correlation between poverty and low levels of education and poor health outcomes.

        6. Vieques is a small island with a small population and thus a small gene pool. If you mentioned to any epidemiologist that a small island had a statistically higher rate of Cancer, the first thing that would pop into their head would be “not surprising–small gene pool.” While small, relatively captive (i.e. there aren’t a lot of people coming and going) populations don’t always result in higher rates of cancer, there is a correlation between population sizes and cancer rates. In fact, the highest cancer rates in the world are on small islands with captive populations. In Vieques distant (and not so distant) relatives marry–second, third cousins etc., thus “shrinking” the gene pool.

        More debatable statements:

        1. While there hasn’t been any research done to confirm this, simply by having lived in Vieques as well as numerous locales in the States, I am confident that the rates of smoking and drinking are higher in Vieques than both the main island and the States. Alcohol and tobacco are both known to increase the risk of cancer.

        2. There is absolutely no correlation between proximity to the bombing range and cancer rates. (undisputable fact) Activists and class-action lawyers looking to cash in on litigation proposed the theory that dust containing toxins from the range (7 miles from the closest resident) spreads more or less evenly due to atmospheric conditions. While possible, if breathing dust laden with heavy metals were the source of the high cancer rates, you would see almost exclusively high levels of lung cancer–which has been proven to be caused by inhaling cadmium and other heavy metals. However, this isn’t the case. There are no specific cancers that have vastly higher rates in Vieques that would suggest a specific kind of contamination. Not to mention soil, water, and plant samples by the EPA refute this sort of contamination.

        3. Some will claim that the EPA, CDC etc. are gov’t agencies and are possibly part of a greater gov’t cover-up. While I can’t definitively prove otherwise, I do know people that work or have worked for both agencies. These agencies are staffed by left-leaning individuals, many of whom, like me, are no fans of the US military industrial complex or US foreign policy or the US military in general, and I strongly believe wouldn’t be complicit in a massive government cover-up.

        VAGABOND–If you have any FACTS that refute what is written above, please write them on this thread.

      5. You know what? You try living for decades in an island with depleted uranium… My number of 50% may have been off and i’ll look into it… But 40% higher is nothing to be proud of either…

        You state that it’s hard for you to believe that the EPA and the CDC would have a massive cover-up? But these eugenics programs have a long history in the US… From blankets with small pox given to Native Americans to gynecology experiments on Black slaves to the Tuskgee experiments to the Eugenics programs of Harry Laughlin…

        i’ll believe what the people of Vieques tell me and not what the US gov’t tells me…

        Just so you know… there is a contract that the US military signed with the colonial PR gov’t that stated that if the population of Vieques dipped below 10,000 then the US military would take over the island and forcibly remove the Viequenses… So it behooves the US military to kill off Viquenses…

        Again they want Puerto Rico but Puerto Ricans… Case in point in Vieques… There is no maternity ward in the hospital in Vieques… When women have to give birth they are flown to Fajardo to a hospital on the mainland to give birth… As a result the birth records in Vieques showed that there were no births on the island.. All this to say that the birth rates in Vieques are dropping…

        More sinister shit… i’m not nit picking at the micro, i’m looking at things in the macro… As a whole the US is not interested in Puerto Ricans… only in Puerto Rico…

      6. Follow-up: I was reviewing the CDC study today for the first time in a long time. The CDC study–the most scientifically rigorous and comprehensive, and really the only survey or study with any methodological soundness (i.e. validity)–reports a 22% higher Cancer incidence in Vieques when compared to the main island for all years studied, 1990-1999. While the Cancer rate for these years is higher than the main island it is actually lower than the incidence for the 50 states. Again, see my previous post re: explanations for the rate in Vieques vs. the main island.

      7. Again everything from the US gov’t must bee seen as suspect as in the past it has done everything to maintain it’s control over the island… i’m not interested in anything the US gov’t has to say about PR…

      8. I’m not going to go back and forth with you arguing the same point. I stated that I was in no way defending the Sterilization program or its motives only that your statements were factually incorrect. So I’ll simplify, again–Birth control was completely outlawed in PR due to a Catholic regime. Many, many, poor Puerto Rican women, most (and I may be incorrect here, but if I remember correctly, there were policies against sterilizing childless women in general) with several children decided for themselves that they didn’t want any more children and wanted to be able to have sex without the fear of getting pregnant again. Not only is this fact it is common sense. Imagine you are a 26 year old woman in PR in the 1930s. You live in wood shack with a corrugated metal roof with a mud floor and no running water with very little income. You have several children that you love as well as a husband and the thought of getting pregnant again is terrifying. Again there is no birth control in PR. Your friend comes up to you and says, “hey you can get a free operation at the local clinic that will prevent you from getting pregnant ever again. You’re out of the hospital the next day and up and around in a week.” You don’t think that appealed to ANY poor Puerto Rican women in the first half of the century with a bunch of kids, no money, and no birth control?

      9. One third of Puerto Rican women? One third… Most of these women were uneducated on the affects it would have on them… If the US wanted to introduce a birth control to PR there were other ways to do it… But sterilization? i mean, c’mon… Planned Parenthood had a big hand in this and their history is also not the best when it comes to eugenics…

        Why wasn’t this an issue in DR or in Mexico or Columbia or Guatemala? The Catholic church had an iron grip in those countries too but one third of the women weren’t sterilized en masse…

      10. And the CDC report aside (which again puts the cancer rate in Vieques at below the cancer rate of the 50 States) I put out several FACTS that account for a high cancer rate. Do you not believe me that the obesity rate is higher than the main island or that obesity causes cancer or that small gene pools are correlated with high rates of cancer or that poverty is correlated with poor public health knowledge and high rates of cancer and that its very likely that the rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption are higher in Vieques which, again, cause cancer? A response of “I’ll believe what the people of Vieques tell me not the U.S. Gov’t” isn’t much of a response at all.

      11. Again it’s not difficult in my mind to see the US gov’t lying… Shit the whole damn country went to war over a lie in Iraq to benefit the military and security industrial complex…

        Vieques was a big part of every single war since the US military started exercises there… What makes you think lying about cancer rates is a problem… i’ve been to the bombing ranges when they were being occupied… i’ve seen the unexploded 500lb bombs sticking up out of the water… i’ve seen the unexploded ordinance littering the beach…

        You can’t bomb a place with depleted uranium shells for 60 years and it not have an effect on people… It’s not possible… It’s just not possible…

      12. Finally, I stated that I got my understanding of the PR Sterilization program from unbiased history books (as well as by talking to elderly Puerto Ricans), not from recycled web articles that grow in their mischaracterization with every re-writing, and you responded by sending me a link to EXACTLY THAT. Furthermore, somewhere in here you stated or quoted a line about the media being able to make the victim look like assailant or something like that, I wouldn’t go that far, but both the media and propaganda like this page do like to make very complicated issues and turn them into black and white or victim vs. assailant. People like that sort of thing and attach to it–yup it’s easier to understand and nice to join into some point of view that increases your sense of belonging. The media does it to make money. Propagandists do it in an effort to have others join their cause. I for one will continue to think for myself based on rationality and facts.

      13. One third… Show me another country where the population is forced, coerced, encouraged, whatever term you want to call it… into sterilization? One third… That’s a stagger amount of people…

      14. I’m also confused about the military takeover of Vieques if the population of Vieques below 10,000. The population IS below 10,000 and has been for a long time. What IS true unfortunately is that the military could take back the land handed over to Fish & Wildlife at any point the gov’t deemed it necessary for national security purposes.

      15. Then the Us military can according to their bullshit contract take the island back and kick everyone off… But doing that would probably create a push toward independence…

      16. “You can’t bomb a place with depleted uranium shells for 60 years and it not have an effect on people… It’s not possible… It’s just not possible…” To some extent I agree with this statement (except for 60 years of depleted uranium part–I’m not going to argue the point here but while the amount of depleted uranium on the range isn’t known, it likely isn’t much.) But anyway, it doesn’t matter if it’s depleted uranium or cadmium or other carcinogenic heavy metals. They were certainly fired, en masse, on the bombing range. And while modeling by independent physicists show that almost every last bit of heavy metal aerosols from exploded ordinance have settled within 2 kilometers or so (and remember the closest point of the range to the closest Vieques resident is 10 kilometers), it is impossible to imagine that there hasn’t been any exposure to any people on Vieques ever (through consumption of reef fish, freak atmospheric conditions causing minute amounts to travel more than 10km, etc.). And the nature of carcinogens is such that you don’t necessarily need a certain level of exposure for it to cause cancer. In other words, if enough people only smoked a single cigarette, eventually one of those people would get lung cancer as a result (though I’m not sure there are enough people on earth for this to actually happen).

        So no, it would not surprise me if a small percentage of the increased cancer rate in Vieques was due to the range. And obviously any increase is too much. What I dispute is the constant suggestion or outright statement by the media, by threads like this, etc. that the higher cancer rate is due exclusively to the bombing range. Again, high rates of obesity, smaller gene pool compared to the main island, poor public health practices and knowledge, and (likely) higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use go farther to explain the cancer rate than does the range.

        And the main reason it frustrates me (in addition to the constant mischaracterization of all things in the media and on the internet) is that promotes a victim’s mentality here on Vieques–that the health problems here are due to the bombing range and thus out of their control which is, at worst, untrue for the most part, and at best almost completely untrue. What the residents of Vieques need IS TO BECOME EMPOWERED and to know that they have control over their health through better weight maintenance, better diet/exercise, better public health practices (discussed in another post), less tobacco and alcohol use, etc..

      17. So the heavy metals in the surrounding waters of Vieques aren’t a problem… So according to your own numbers the 40% increase in cancer has nothing to do with people having to live on a constant war zone?

        We can argue the minutia of things but at the end of the day people are suffering and dying over the US militaries bullshit in Vieques… And neither Fish & Wildlife or the US military has cleaned up the mess they left behind and the people of Vieques still don’t have access to the land that was taken from them…

      18. Vagabond, you either aren’t reading my comments or are simply just choosing to ignore them and spouting off what you want to say without careful thought. Your last post stated that “So according to your own numbers the 40% increase in cancer has nothing to do with people having to live on a constant war zone? We can argue the minutia of things but at the end of the day people are suffering and dying over the US militaries bullshit.” I stated in my previous post that it would surprise me, given the nature of carcinogens, that the bombing range had no effect on the cancer rate in Vieques. And that any increase is to much, and yes the military should be responsible for ANY increase. My point in this thread is to show that what you call “minutia” is quite important. There is a big difference between saying “1/3 of Puerto Rican women were forcibly sterilized” and “some women were misinformed, possibly deliberately, regarding the permanence of tubal ligation.” There is a big difference between saying “The Navy Bombing Range in Vieques has caused a 50% increase in the cancer rate” and “Despite numerous reasons why the cancer rate would logically be higher in Vieques than the main island, it is likely that some of the 22% of the increased cancer rate is due to the Navy Bombing Range.” Like I said, one of the differences here in Vieques is that false propaganda about the range gives residents a fatalistic view of their health and could very likely lead to WORSE health outcomes (but maybe you’d like that so you could include the worsening health outcomes in your propaganda). Again, I am for facts. And here is another fact I didn’t mention about Vieques cancer rates. The 40% higher rate found by a main island Dr. was done through a random survey of Vieques residents. This Dr. even admits that the average age of respondents was significantly higher than the average age of Vieques residents. Clearly, this inflates the rate and explains (at least some) of the difference between the activist physician’s finding of 40% and the CDC finding of 22%. I also didn’t mention that the median age in Vieques is 2 years greater than the main island which further accounts for some of the higher rate. In fact, Vieques’s population 75 and older is 11% greater per capita than the main island. If you raised the population 75 and older on the main island to the same percentage it would result in a 3.3% increase in the cancer rate on the main island.

        So you made the point that details don’t matter and that you can’t possibly live 10KM from where carcinogens are dumped without adverse affects–and again the latter is likely true. However, what is even more likely than that is that an older population accounts for some of the cancer rate (an absolute certainty) as well as a small gene pool, poor public health knowledge and behavior, tobacco and alcohol rates, a high obesity rate. Epidemiologists wouldn’t be able to say without intense and long-term research (especially given the islands small population) how much these things have affected the cancer rate, and some would be afraid to even give an estimate, but all would say that they almost certainly increased the cancer rate. And if age is (definitively) responsible for a few percent, and obesity is almost certainly responsible for a few percent, and tobacco and alcohol rates are likely responsible for a few percent, and small gene pool may have no affect whatsoever or could have a very large effect on cancer rates…. Well hopefully you, or at least someone reading this gets the point.

      19. On Sterilization…

        i never said women were forced… Here’s is what i said…

        “Post World War I the US government began a wide-spread program of population control in Puerto Rico. They began sterilizing Puerto Rican women. The sterilization of these women was done without their knowledge and consent or was done by misinforming the women of the permanence of the sterilization procedure. By 1965 one-third of Puerto Rican women were systematically sterilized. The imperial design of the US was that they wanted Puerto Rico but not Puerto Ricans. So what is the 4th of July to Puerto Ricans?”

        On Vieques & Cancer…

        Imagine living in a war zone for 60 years where bombs and gunfire go on for over 200 days out of the year… But there really isn’t a war it’s just the US military practicing (or some other foreign military as the US liked to “rent” Vieques out to other militaries to train)… Whether the cancer comes from depleted uranium or lack of medical facilities or stress that induces obesity and smoking and alcoholism… Or whether or not people don’t have cancer and just smoke or drink or are stressed – all of that is brought on by the US military… All of it is a situation that exists simply because Puerto Rico is a colony… And in being a colony is limited in it’a ability to do anything about those issues?

        How about just for you i change the 50% to something more in keeping with a number you say is more realistic… You say 22%… Ok… 22% is still a ridiculously high number…

        But then you say it’s 3% higher than the mainland… Just 3%… People are living on an island with decades worth of depleted uranium and there’s no signs of higher cancer rates…? If you’re so sure about these numbers then would you be comfortable living near that kind of poison? Better yet would you feel comfortable if i just took out the fact that cancer rates are higher in Vieques? Would that make everything alright? Would you feel better if i just didn’t talk about cancer in Vieques… i mean it’s just old age and inbreeding according to you… Would that make how the US abused the people and the island of Vieques ok?

        You have belabored these points to no end… Even if my numbers are off would it change the fact that Puerto Rico is a colony? That the US gov’t doesn’t give a shit about Puerto Ricans? Would it change the fact that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US?

        That’s what i mean about you nitpicking… All this dialogue and debate over minutiae while the larger issue of Puerto Rico being a colony of the US goes undiscussed… Even if the sterilization of Puerto Rican women wasn’t as bad as i said it was or the cancer rates in Vieques were not as bad as the US gov’t (who has a stake in saying they aren’t bad) – even if my numbers on the economy are way off mark… Would that somehow make Puerto Rico less of a US colony? Would it make US imperialism in Puerto Rico something we shouldn’t do anything about?

        i’m just curious… Do you believe in Puerto Rican independence? Are you Puerto Rican? Are you an American? Do you think US colonialism in Puerto Rico is wrong? Or is it all about whether or not a bunch of dumb Catholic Puerto Rican woman lined up for sterilization and people over exaggerating cancer rates in Vieques? In the grander scheme of things would it possible to say that the US should just get the fuck out of Puerto Rico? Or does that need to be quantified by a 3% cancer spike in an older population on an island that the US military bombed to shit for 60 years?

        Does the question of Puerto Rican independence hinge on these issues? Or is it about something much larger?

      20. Really. Please give facts as to what is not real? … I have documents to price MUCH of this is …

  1. As fascinating as I find this article, I find that the idea of freedom has become a vague concept in the minds of many Puerto Ricans. In fact many of them, even after reading this article would not trade what they have under colonial rule for the uncertainty that would be Independence. We have no currency and no great exports that would sustain our economy. The great majority of our people would not work the agricultural industry so that we could sustain ourselves and move forward. Many people fear that what happened to Haiti would happen here. Although a great many injustices have been purported over our people, many believe that the life we live is better that abject poverty. There cannot be a blind race to the final which is independence. There has to be a full fledged plan of action. Also take into consideration that many of the nations willing to help us after we became free would be communist and socialist in their agenda. We would be vulnerable to their influence. The articles on your sight are eloquent and speak to me, but they do not offer a plan only a resistance to the United States and statement after statement of their atrocities against us. It’s not enough to stir the people out of their complacency.

    1. Here’s a question for you. Each and every time there is a Presidential election, PR asks its voters if they want to be free of the US. Each and every time, by a landslide vote, PR says no. You all enjoy all the protections of the US without any of the responsibilities. You pay no taxes yet you recieve SS and welfare. You enjoy the benefits of citizenship without the responsibilities yet you complain about being a territory. If you don’t want to be a territory–vote yes next time and quit your whining.

      1. President’s don’t ask Puerto Ricans what they want… They never have and they never will… One is never granted freedom, freedom is something that’s taken…

        The so-called plebiscites that i think you are talking about are non-binding… That means when Puerto Rico’s holds these plebiscites asking Puerto Ricans about statehood or “commonwealth” or independence the results don’t matter because the US Congress has the ultimate say… If every Puerto Rican voted for independence it would still be up to the US Congress to decide what it wanted to with Puerto Rico… As a result when these plebiscites happen many Puerto Ricans who believe in independence choose to not participate… So those plebiscites that you cite are not an accurate representation of the self-determintation of Puerto Ricans…

        Let me just leave you with this…

        “The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s a the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
        If you aren’t careful, because I’ve seen some of you caught in that bag, you run away hating yourself and loving the man — while you’re catching hell from the man. You let the man maneuver you into thinking that it’s wrong to fight him when he’s fighting you. He’s fighting you in the morning, fighting you in the noon, fighting you at night and fighting you all in between, and you still think it’s wrong to fight him back. Why? The press. The newspapers make you look wrong.” – Malcolm X

      2. The social security that we received from United Stated, we paid for it. When we work we paid the s.s. , Unites Stated do not give it to us. Please read more about our history, before you talk. And we paid tax too.

      3. I totally agree with you. I’m born and raised in Puerto Rico and honestly i think they need to stop bitching. If they don’t like it, vote yes. Me on the other hand, I love being an American. So if it comes to it, my ass stays in the US. Puerto Ricans needs to stop bringing up the past to try and start some type of movements. It should be for educational purpose only. But that’s me.

      4. We pay a lot of federal taxes. We just don’t fill out the same forms they do in the states. Also, the US extracts a lot of money out of the island that they don’t put in. You should read more before taking.

      5. I have to agree with Mr. Flores and to some degree with other comments here. Vagabond and others are long on emotion but short on rationality and logic. Most that want change for PR–independence or any other change are often reacting to their present situation and just think that something else will be better–that the grass is greener on the other side. And I think the U.S. has done PR a great disservice in many ways, though not the ways that are commonly cited. And I think the state of PR is in many ways a pathetic waste of a beautiful place with a lot of potential. A Brookings Institute (a left-leaning organization) concluded that the two biggest contributors to the poor economic conditions and disparity in PR (which contribute to crime, poor health, etc.) are 1. A bloated, inefficient PR gov’t which has been increasingly bloated by the US gov’t. 2. The constant pumping of welfare dollars into the island that has contributed to a perpetual and growing lower class with no middle-class skills or prospects.

        I would like to know what Vagabond and others on this thread think PR would look like now if the U.S. had abandoned it 50 or even 100 years ago. Or what it would look like 50 years down the road if PR became independent now. I’m not necessarily saying its impossible, but many believe that if PR had been independent for the last 100 years it would look, at worst, like Haiti where the majority of people live in such horrible poverty you would have nightmares if you spent time there, or at best the Dominican or Jamaica the latter of which has an average annual income of about $3K a year. My guess is that if you rounded up a random sample of Puerto Ricans, both from PR and living in the States, had them spend a year living in any of those places, and them let them choose between staying there or returning to PR or the States….

      6. This is just more economic fear mongering to scare people away from independence… This is more talk to play into the inferiority complex of colonialism…

        There is a brain drain in Puerto Rico because of the economics in Puerto Rico but that would all change if the economy could be turned around… There are plenty of economic solutions to turn PR’s economy around but not with our hands tied behind our backs by the US gov’t…

        Whatever plan PR comes up with to economically improve needs to meet the approval of the US Congress… If the US Congress doesn’t like it then PR can’t do it… The very height of colonialism… You can nit pick at the article all you want but the truth is that PR needs to be free…

        PR generates something like $70 billion in revenue for the US and PR gets back what for that? With a decent corporate tax structure alone PR could start to improve it’s economy…

        This whole thing about PR becoming DR or Cuba or Haiti is a ridiculous notion… PR is already halfway because of the US gorilla it carries on it’s back…

        As for corrupt gov’t in PR… The gov’t in PR is controlled by the statehood party and commonwealth party both US puppets sucking at the teat of US colonialism… The US doesn’t want or need accountability in PR… That unaccountability is what helps to maintain the colony…

      7. Also, for the record. The post re: federal income tax is incorrect. Almost no Puerto Rican’s pay federal income tax–only those with direct business coming from the U.S. The other poster re: Social Security was correct. Puerto Rican’s do pay federal social security/disability; however, what they use from this pool (especially in the form of disability payments) is more than they put in–in fact the disparity is greater than any of the 50 states. Fact: while many proponents and independence like to throw around statements like, “PR is … than even the poorest of the 50 states…” Puerto Rico has a greater disparity between Federal taxes paid and Federal funding received than any of the 50 states–by a long shot.

      8. The Federal programs PR’s get… Welfare, WIC, Social Security, Section 8, Food Stamps, student loans are a small price for the US to pay so that US corporations can economically rape the island… The US generates something like $70 billion for the US economy… Billion with a “B”…

        It behooves the US gov’t to keep things just as they are because they benefit US corporations…

      9. “PR produces something like $70B in revenue for the US…Billion with a B!!!” -VAGABOND
        Where on earth did you get that figure? Again, I am no defender of the US and am all for PR finding its own and better path. What I am for is honesty and rationality. The ENTIRE GDP OF PUERTO RICO is $100B per year. PR–residents, corporations, everthing included–social security, etc.–pay about $4B a year into the Federal Treasury (i.e. taxes) and receive about $15B a year in Federal Transfers, a net gain of $11B, yes billion with a B. And some would argue that this doesn’t reflect the lost tax dollars to the US treasury through the now ended fiscal policy the US enacted that allowed corporations to operate (and employ Puerto Ricans) almost tax free. Some of those corporations which would have operated in the States otherwise and paid taxes.

        But again, I just want to get the FACTS correct. Like I said, I agree with the Brookings institute that the welfare state the US gov’t has turned Puerto rico into is part of the problem, not the solution.

      10. Wait, maybe I misread that, VAGABOND, are you saying that the GDP of PR is $70B and that goes to the US? Or that $70B of the $100B GDP ends up as corporate profits to US corporations? Either way it’s WAY off. Though you are correct, the profits of fast food co’s, Walmart etc. benefit stateside residents more–as they likely own a greater share of stocks in these corporations per capita then do Puerto rican citizens, pension funds, etc. And Puerto Ricans should utilize Puerto Rican-owned businesses as much as possible.

      11. $70B goes to the US how? Before you start a revolution, I suggest auditing a reputable Econ 101 Course.

      1. There’s nothing vague about controlling your own economy, your own foreign policy, your own ecology, your own destiny… Nothing vague about it…

        “It is far, far better to be governed or misgoverned oneself than to be governed by someone else.” – Kwame Nkruma

    2. i agree with you to a degree… What we need now is an economic model that can make people feel as though we will thrive as a nation… THAT would bring Puerto Ricans together and make independence a possibility…

      There are ways in which Puerto Rico can have a stable, sustainable and thriving economy… There is colton in Puerto Rico (a mineral that is in every cell phone, computer, tablet and electronic device), there is oil in Puerto Rico… There is also the possibility of following the example of Singapore where Puerto Rico can become a financial and corporations doing business in Europe and Latin America can use Puerto Rico as a intermediary meeting place the way Singapore is for Europe, Australia the US and Asia… There are plenty of opportunities to make Puerto Rico a viable sustainable economy but none of them will be realized without first gaining our independence…

    3. i agree with you to a degree… What we need now is an economic model that can make people feel as though we will thrive as a nation… THAT would bring Puerto Ricans together and make independence a possibility…

      There are ways in which Puerto Rico can have a stable, sustainable and thriving economy… There is colton in Puerto Rico (a mineral that is in every cell phone, computer, tablet and electronic device), there is oil in Puerto Rico… There is also the possibility of following the example of Singapore where Puerto Rico can become a financial center for corporations doing business in Europe and Latin America can use Puerto Rico as a intermediary meeting place the way Singapore is for Europe, Australia the US and Asia… There are plenty of opportunities to make Puerto Rico a viable sustainable economy but none of them will be realized without first gaining our independence…

  2. Some of it is too exaggerated. And they only picked and chose what they wanted to say is not an accurate tale. Shame on who wrote this.

    1. i couldn’t lay out a complete plan to free Puerto Rico in this blog post even if i wanted to and i agree that most PR’s are afrid of the economic impact of independence… But i disagree that there are no solutions to those economic problems… There are solutions it just a matter of finding them… Where there is a will there is a way… Right now there is no will for independence so there is no way to independence… i’m just trying to create the will so that we can begin to find the way…

      1. I agree with you on this at least. There seems to be little “will” currently in Puerto Rico, but instead way too much of a victims mentality (which is encouraged by sensationalized and one-sided historical accounts) and not enough looking inward to figure out what I and others can do to improve PR. I have significant doubts that independence is the best strategy, but certainly can’t know this for sure. And while I respect that you have put forth some ideas for economic growth, I don’t understand why these ideas, if so promising, haven’t already occurred, or why they are more likely to occur as an independent nation vs. US commonwealth. Although I guess you could get rid of US environmental regulations, pollute the earth, and destroy PR’s incredible flora, fauna, and geology even more than it already has been in a quest for minerals and oil.

      2. You discount the colonial reality of inferiority that most PR’s suffer from… Read Franz Fanon to understand the the struggle of the colonized is not just political but psychological as well…

        Is the PR independence movement a mess in PR? YES!!! Without a doubt… Does that somehow lessen the injustice? NO!!! The PR independence movement needs to get it’s act together… The stuggle for independence is not a militant one but an economic one… If the PR independence movement could come up with a plan to economically better PR than PR’s would abandon the US like sailors jumping a sinking ship… And the US is a sinking ship… The daze of it’s Empire are waning… The capitalist in the US will sink the US faster than any “terrorist” threat… The financial collapse of 2008 was evidence of that…

        As for PR destroying it’s own ecology… PR has done more to save it than the US has… So save the colonized inferiority rhetoric for those who believe that we are nothing without the almighty US… it falls on deaf ears here…

    2. i chose certain historical realities to highlight colonial situation in Puerto Rico… Yes that’s what this is and i admitted to it in the article… So what’s the problem… Where’s my shame? And why should i be ashamed? Shouldn’t the US government be ashamed of what it’s done in Puerto Rico? Shouldn’t that be your comment? i point out the shameful acts of a colonizing nation and you want me to be ashamed? Explain to me how the messenger is responsible?

      1. The U.S. gov’t should be ashamed of a lot of what it’s done with PR, as well as the 50 states as well as countries throughout the world. However, I agree with john that a lot of this is exaggerated at best and flat out incorrect at worst. The characterization of the sterilization program and vieques cancer rates/bombing range link included.

      2. e.g. “The sterilization of these women was done without their knowledge and consent or was done by misinforming the women of the permanence of the sterilization procedure.” This simply isn’t true and the rest of the details are mischaracterized. The number of Puerto Ricans living in abject poverty was growing quickly due to a repressive Catholic regime that outlawed any type of birth control. The U.S. overturned this ban and (like the right to abortion we have in the states now) offered poor Puerto Rican free access to the surgery commonly known as “having your tubes tied” to prevent future pregnancies. There are certainly anecdotes by some women that they didn’t understand that the surgery was permanent. And others that say they were pressured to have the surgery. There were certainly unfair hiring practices that gave preference to women that had the surgery (thus eliminating the risk of leaving their job when they became pregnant). But trust me, tens of thousands of puerto rican women were very happy to control the size of their families and have sex without worrying about having to feed another hungry mouth. Don’t get me started on Vieques…

      3. Or looked at another way–if the U.S. had maintained the ban on birth control on the island, that paragraph would have read something like, “In an effort to maintain an impoverished supply of agricultural workers, the U.S. failed to address the reproductive rights of women in Puerto Rican through laws that made every form of contraception illegal.

    3. @MPearson
      Puerto Rican women were forcibly sterilized in Puerto Rico there are a number of citations that can be found just by doing a simple search for “sterilization of Puerto Rican women”…

      i’ve seen 1st hand the devastation of Vieques. i did a documentary on the the abuses by the US military of Vieques and the high cancer rates that affected the population…

      There is nothing here that is exaggerated… Albizu died of radiation poisoning, Rosado and Beauchamp were executed without a trial by the police, it was illegal to fly the Puerto Rican flag at one time and illegal to speak of independence and Filiberto was shot and left to bleed to death, those are all FACTS.

      Don’t come here trying to dispute the facts… Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no is entitled to their own facts, facts are facts… You can try and rewrite what’s written here but that will not change the facts…

  3. I am so happy you r writing this history in a way young people will see and want to know more,because,they really dont know, i thank you

  4. Glad to hear the historical trauma that has happened to our PR people….thank you for posting it as I didn’t know much from this history….It is a tragedy and probably cannot ever gain the Independence like it was in the past….Just grateful that the culture has not been lost and the pride of the PR people is still alive today!

    1. Don’t have a defeatist attitude… We can be free and we can have a strong, sustainable economy. We can be whatever we want, its the very definition of what independence is all about…

  5. While I am pro-independence and am horrified the acts that have been committed by the US against our people (military drafts, mass sterilization, Vieques, medical experiments, Rio Piedras massacre, Ponce massacre, etc.), I think that some of the actions being depicted as heroic acts of resistance in this article can just as easily be seen as acts of terrorism that deserved punishment, even if the manner in which the US went about instituting “justice” was also unethical. Somebody who tries to kill a President or opens fire in a room full of people should not be lauded as a hero. Maybe you do agree with Malcolm X’s ideology, but I personally think that such actions discredited the movement and do not present a compelling case for Puerto Rican independence; instead, they paint independentistas as violent extremists. Independence can only be gained through peaceful, democratic means and by educating el pueblo so that people don’t believe this ridiculous notion that Puerto Rico would automatically become Haiti or lose all its McDonalds.

    You make a lot of great points throughout the article and do give many valid reasons for which Puerto Ricans should resent the US, but, even as an Independentista, I’m uncomfortable feeling sympathetic for some of the figures that are depicted as heroes that were wrongfully punished for noble actions. I don’t believe in violence, and I would be ashamed to call them great figures of Puerto Rican history.

    1. I’m curious… You say you have problems with the attempted assassination of the US President and the shooting on the House of Congress but do you have a problem with George Washington or Thomas Jefferson taking their independence for themselves and using revolutionary violent means to do so?

      Nelson Mandela became the President of South Africa for fighting against Apartheid after he spent 27 years in prison for taking up arms against his oppressors… People forget that he was once considered a terrorist by the South African government but that was before he triumphed… After he won his freedom he went from being considered a terrorist to being considered a freedom fighter…

      History has a way of being written by the victors… Once Mandela was in power his story went from being one of a terrorist to one of being a freedom fighter…

      In Puerto Rico we have yet to win our independence so our history is described by those who colonize us and they describe our actions as terrorist actions… But when we gain our independence those “terrorist” actions that are the controlling narrative will be transformed as freedom fighting actions…

      On another note… No nation has achieved it’s independence without some measure of violence which is to be expected since the very nature if imperialism is one of violence… Personally I think there has been relatively very little violence in terms of the Puerto Rican independence movement… We are the oldest colony in the world clocking in at half an eon… When one looks at that kind of long term time frame and sees the amount of violence perpetrated by Puerto Ricans against their oppressors and puts that up against the violence that the Spanish & the US have perpetrated against Puerto Ricans you’ll see that the majority of violence is overwhelming been violence against Puerto Ricans…

      The two incidents you stated – the assassination attempt on Truman & the US congress shooting resulted in two deaths… What about the attempted genocide of Puerto Ricans with the sterilization programs or the cancer rates in Vieques? How many Puerto Ricans were killed? At what point does one decide to defend ones self? The violence of Puerto Ricans in the cause for independence is not terrorism it’s self defense… It’s revolutionary…

  6. Say that the Pro Independence Movement in Puerto Rico got to the point where it was a viable and serious option as a permanent political solution of the island’s status question. Say an armed underground movement was formed to oppose the Independence of Puerto Rico. Assume that the actions of this group involved shootings and bombings that killed, maimed and injured common citizens of the island. Would you consider the members of such an organization freedom fighters or terrorists? Be honest with your beliefs and your prior criteria as stated in your comments and this written piece that you have submitted.

    1. i’m not one to entertain “what if” scenarios… The actions of the armed underground resistance movements in Puerto Rico like Los Macheteros have existed and have taken actions against targeted US imperialism… In all the actions that the Macheteros have taken i know of no shootings, maiming or injuring of common citizens… If you know otherwise please let me know… So as far as i know, historically no common citizens were killed or maimed or injured in any of the actions that Los Macheteros or any other armed clandestine Puerto Ricans organization took… Do i believe that organizations like Los Macheteros are freedom fighters? Absolutely… without hesitation or doubt…

      My question to you is this… Do you consider the violence of US imperialism in regard to the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who were killed or maimed or injured in any of the actions i described above in the essay to be terrorist actions? Because this question works both ways…

      i’ve laid out a history of decades of murder, maiming and massacre in Puerto Rico and have talked about a few of the responses to those ongoing tragedies with the assassination of a Police Chief, a failed assassination of President Truman (however a police officer was killed in that action), and a shooting in the US congress injuring 5 congressmen… When you look at it with an uncolonized mentality, Puerto Ricans have been very patient and peaceful on the whole with US imperialism and it’s affects… The few moments that Puerto Ricans have used violence in an effort to win their independence have been surgical in their precision… There is no wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians or innocent bystanders… The same CANNOT be said of US imperialism…

      Let’s be clear Los Macheteros and the FALN and other clandestine armed organizations that are or that have taken military actions against US imperialism those groups are NOT the aggressors… US imperialism is the aggressor here… If US imperialist terrorism were to cease groups like Los Macheteros would dissolve… because there would be no need for them to exist…

      Why is that we as the victims of violence and terrorism and imperialism are always being asked if it’s right to use any any all means available to us, including violence, in an effort to STOP the violence and terrorism and imperialism that goes on daily when that right has already been resolved under UN Resolution 1514? Why is it ok for the US to achieve it’s independence using violence but not ok for Puerto Rico? It’s not only OK for the US to use violence it’s celebrated!!! But when others decide to use violence as a means towards liberation it’s not ok…?

    2. You make me wonder if you, your children or other loved ones would kill or be killed as soldiers in the u.s. Military in All of the unjust wars perpetrated against the world. Would you commit violence unquestionably?

      1. To quote from my film MACHETERO…

        “Are you asking for mercy from the victims of violence?”

        Why is it that the question of violence is always asked of those who are trying to defend themselves…? There is violence and revolutionary violence one is a response to the other. If the violence ceases then so does the violent response to it.

  7. I never said I approved of the actions of the leaders of the American Revolution. If Americans were given a truly unbiased education of their history they would realize that the leaders of their revolution were, at the end of the day, insurgents not very different from the type that the United States has fought against on other countries. Also, this argument that the only successful revolutions have been those that used violence is historically incorrect. The Velvet Revolution and India’s independence under Ghandi are key examples of independence achieved through non-violent means, and it always irritates me when people ignore these revolutions because they contradicts the idea that revolution can only be achieved through violence. Malcolm X himself, at the end of the day, was not as effective as the non-violent Martin Luther King Jr. in gaining rights of African Americans.

    Freedom fighters and terrorists are not mutually exclusive terms. I don’t care if these people were fighting for Puerto Rico’s freedom, their methods would still classify them as terrorists, and if anything they set back the independence movement. Why should I look up to them then? Just because I don’t condone the actions of the United States doesn’t mean I have to applaud any extremist that goes about trying to kill people in the name of justice.

    Puerto Rico is at a stage where we don’t need militias or armed resistance groups, at all. What needs to happen is for el pueblo to realize that independence IS a viable option and to work out a viable transition plan with the US. Armed resistance would only set back the process and make independentistas look like extremists.

    1. So you are opposed to violence on any level? But refuse to recognize that the violence of the Puerto Rican independence movement pales in comparison to the violence of US imperialism…

      The Velvet Revolution worked in part because the Secret Police in Czechoslovakia refused to arrest the leaders of the revolt in essence supporting the resistance… The Velvet Revolution is complex and nuanced…

      The myth that India gained it’s independence by Gandhi’s non-violent means is exactly that… The non-violent movement helped but by no means was the sole movement responsible for India’s independence… The role Subhas Chandra Bose the leader of a guerrilla movement that fought the British military… Read this essay on the India issue…

      http://kurukshetra1.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/no-non-violence-didnt-free-india-from-the-british-empire/

      Freedom fighters and terrorists are mutually exclusive terms… What is the opposite of a terrorist?

      The violence of the Puerto Rican independence movement which has been a very small part of the movement when one takes a broader look has been extremely effective… Oscar Lopez Rivera who has been languishing in prison for 32 years has recently garnered the support of Bishop Desmond Tutu as well as Nobel Peace Laureate and Past President of East Timor José Ramos-Horta and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire…

      International attention has always been brought about by the relatively few violent actions of the Puerto Rican independence movement and that attention has been kept on Puerto Rican independence by our political prisoners… Those prisoner in a bizarre way legitimize the struggle for Puerto Rican independence…

      What about the assassination of Filiberto? If so many people were against the armed struggle for Filiberto why was his funeral the largest one in Puerto Rican history?

      So i disagree with you in terms of of violence setting the Puerto Rican independence movement back…

      Do i believe that we need to have a violent revolution in Puerto Rico? No… i think that with the media technology of today we can just be free… Create our own government run our own affairs and ignore the current colonial Puerto Rican US controlled puppet government… Betances said “Wanting to be free is to begin to be free.” No bloodshed would be necessary in Puerto Ricans relying on themselves to take true and complete control of our lives… If Puerto Ricans started to create a system by which Puerto Ricans were doing for Puerto Ricans then the US backed puppet government currently in control would dissolve and the US would not be able to do anything about it… Why because the eyes of the world would be on Puerto Rico and the world will ask what is the US doing colonizing Puerto Rico? So no i don’t think we need to shed anymore blood to free Puerto Rico however what i’m proposing means decolonizing Puerto Ricans in order to decolonize Puerto Rico…

      That being said… The blood that has been shed and the sacrifices that were made for Puerto Rico’s independence from Taino resistance to the Cinamrrones to the El Grito de Lares to the Nationlaists Los Machetero and the FALN is not to be discounted… The actions of our ancestors in resistance where in a process of trying to decolonize Puerto Ricans so tht they could decolonize Puerto Rico… Were those actions extreme? YES! Are those the actions of extremists? YES! But look at the laundry list of transgressions i’ve listed and tell me that our situation is not extreme… Tell me that extreme solutions are not necessary…

      1. Thank you Vagabond for sharing what all should know about the hypocritical and historically aggressive nature of the imperial state…and to think, you have only given a brief overview. As we know, the history of abuse is much broader, nuanced, and despicable; especially when one understands the profundity of economic manipulation and oppression. I only take issue with the label”extreme”. If an elephant is standing on your foot, screaming is not extreme, it is a normal expected reaction. Unfortunately, many suffer from “Stokholm Syndrome”i.e. they identify and empathize more with their oppressor than they do with the oppressed. Pa’lante hermano, Dios te bendiga!

  8. Kudos to you and this work. Apologists and traitors abound.
    The greatest obstacle to our independence, ironically, is not the United States. It is our culture of dependence and the colonized mind.
    Paz, luz y amor Hermano.

    !Que viva Puerto Rico libre y Socialista!

    1. Couldn’t agree more… The only thing standing in the way of Puerto Rican independence is Puerto Ricans… The US gov’t has fostered this divide and conquer technique among our people long enough… but it cannot last…

  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Great question!! 🇵🇷 What is the 4th of July to a true, non-assimilated Puerto Rican? Or better yet … to an assimilated one who has seen the light, after self-education? ✊🏽

  10. I shared this post today … one of my dear blogger friends made this comment which I would like to share with you, as the writer of this amazing post ….
    “I read this excellent post with increasing horror, my friend. Though a history buff, I had never studied Puerto Rico in much depth and was not aware of much of this history. As you know from my previous post, I was already ashamed to a large extent of my country, its government and its peoples. Now my head drops even lower in shame for what we have done to Puerto Ricans throughout history. It is interesting, that I have had two commenters on my blog this weekend who pointed out to me the fact that the U.S. has always been imperialistic and often cruel. And then I read this, and I wonder if I even know the country … was I living in some dream world with my blinders on? I cannot apologize, for the atrocities are not mine for which to apologize, but yet … I do apologize because I have been wearing blinders in this respect. 😥 And because it was my country … how did I not know these things? I must think a bit more on this.
    Since you asked me to read this post and asked for my thoughts, I commented here on your post rather than on the original authors. Please make sure that they also see this comment.”

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