Tag Archives: FALN

Oscar Lopez Rivera And MACHETERO


Wanted Free And Alive by vagabond ©
Wanted Free And Alive by vagabond ©

“but it is all for others and nothing for yourself expect no rewards…
for the machetero there is only the prison or the cemetery
your reward is a good death…”
– Pedro Taino
from the Anti-Manifesto: A Mini Manual For The Modern Day Machetero

Although my film MACHETERO is a work of fiction i wanted the film to be based on real people and real situations. When i was looking for someone to base the character of Pedro Taino on, one of the people i looked to was Oscar Lopez Rivera. Oscar is a US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war, charged with sedition and sentenced to 70 years. Puerto Rico has been a colony since 1898 when it defeated the Spanish in the Spanish-American War and took the island of Puerto Rico as war reparations. Oscar was part of the clandestine armed resistance known as the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional – Armed Forces of National Liberation). The FALN believed that Puerto Ricans had the right to extricate themselves from the yoke of US colonialism by any means necessary, as made clear by UN resolution 1514 on the rights of colonized nations.

When Oscar was captured in 1980 he took a prisoner of war status during his trial and refused to recognize the US as having any legitimate power over him. He refused to take part in the trial outside of an opening statement explaining the colonial situation of Puerto Rico and his own status as a Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. It must be a strange thing to be charged with sedition by a country that’s imposed its power over you. A country that you don’t recognize as having any legitimate power over you. A country that not only imposes its power and will over you but also imposes its will and power over the nation you fight to free.

Today marks the thirty-second year that Oscar is in prison. He is the longest US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. The irony of Oscar’s situation is not lost on anyone who even takes a precursory look at Oscar’s life or at the history of US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Oscar Lopez Rivera is Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is Oscar Lopez Rivera. It’s got to be unimaginably difficult to be a living symbol that most don’t want to pay attention to. It’s got to be unimaginably difficult to have your life reduced to that of a living martyr by both the US government that labels you a “terrorist” and to many Puerto Ricans who are reluctant to call him a hero and support him or his cause, much less follow his example.

The very nature of US colonialism is that those who step up and defy their power must be made an example to anyone else thinking of doing the same so the threat of prison or an early grave is by its very nature an apparatus that ensures the colonial condition in Puerto Rico. It’s not an easy example to follow, to sacrifice ones life for others is never easy. Those are the realities that someone like Oscar faces and unfortunately those are the realities that all Puerto Ricans face when they decide to follow in Oscar’s footsteps.

The character of Pedro Taino in my film MACHETERO had to be someone who was driven to go to the extreme but not in an effort to be an extremist but in an effort to be a reflection of the extremism that he and his people were suffering under. In my own humble opinion i think that this is what Oscar was trying to do. It’s also the crux of what i’m trying to say in my film MACHETERO. The first thing that happens when the oppressor is attacked from below is cry “terrorism” and “terrorist” and a propaganda campaign is unleashed to wash the sins of the oppressor and paint the oppressed as an “extremist”. In the case of Oscar the inverse is true. Oscar is a freedom fighter, the terrorism isn’t coming from Oscar the terrorism comes from US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Oscar’s struggle is one in which he’s chosen to take on the very heavy burden of embodying not just Puerto Rican resistance to US colonialism but also the reality of US colonialism in Puerto Rico…

More than a few people who have seen MACHETERO have said that some of the characteristics of Pedro Taino reminds them of Oscar Lopez Rivera. i just wanted to say that this is by design. i also wanted to say that this is also the burden of shame that we carry in having someone who is as talented and capable as Oscar spend 32 years of his life and counting… in a prison embodying the colonial situation of Puerto Rico to a world that for the most part continues to ignore him. It’s been 32 years… maybe it’s about time the world paid attention to Oscar and in doing so take notice of US colonialism in Puerto Rico.

To see what you can do to help free Oscar Lopez Rivera check these links below…
Sign the Petition President Obama for the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera
Boricua Human Rights Network
Pro-Libertad Freedom Campaign

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10 http://machetero.bpt.me
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©
MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-15j

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The Liberation Day Tapes: Liberation Day


MACHETERO & RICANSTRUCTION (Fidel Paulino, Joseph Rodriguez, Arturo Rodriguez & Not4Prophet)
MACHETERO & RICANSTRUCTION (Fidel Paulino, Joseph Rodriguez, Arturo Rodriguez & Not4Prophet)

The genome of my film MACHETERO can be mapped right back to the NYC hardcore Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION and their first album Liberation Day. When i write i often build a soundtrack to use as an emotional roadmap to guide me through the construction of the script. i often see songs as short stories or reinterpret them as short stories and i take those short stories and try to include them in my writing process.

MACHETERO is a film about terrorism and terrorists and how those terms are defined and by whom. The script was written a year after the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. i was waiting for a more nuanced analysis of those events to take place on a larger scale but they never did and so i wrote the script for MACHETERO and decided to explore those issues in a film. The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 were polarizing and so referencing them in the script seemed counterproductive so i decided to use the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence and the use of violence in that struggle as a means of liberation to talk about terrorism and terrorists.

RICANSTRUCTION’s Liberation Day was a concept album based around the Puerto Rican independence struggle. So when i was looking for music to inspire my scriptwriting for MACHETERO i was immediately drawn to Liberation Day. The songs from Liberation Day started to insinuate themselves into the script and they eventually became a part of the structure of the film.

At the end of the final mix for MACHETERO my friend and fellow filmmaker Omar came by and brought his camera to interview Arturo and Joseph Rodriguez about how Liberation Day came into being. Artie and Joey talk about how RICANSTRUCTION came about and how the concept for Liberation Day took shape. In this segment they talk specifically about the song Liberation Day which is a probably the first Hardcore Punk Merengue ever created and recorded. After the interview there is the scene from MACHETERO that used the song Liberation Day.

Liberation Day is available on iTunes

Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION
Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

http://vimeo.com/vgbnd/machetero-2-min-trailer

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-11l

The Liberation Day Tapes: Breakfast In Amerika


THE LIBERATION DAY TAPES
THE LIBERATION DAY TAPES

On April 4th 1980, Elizam Escobar, Ricardo Jiminez, Dylcia Noemi Pagan, Carmen Valentin, Adolfo Matos, Alfredo Mendez, Alicia Rodriguez, Luis Rosa, Maria Hayde Torres, Carlos Alberto Torres, and Ida Luz Rodriguez were arrested in Evanston Illinois. They were all members of the clandestine Puerto Rican organization Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional or the Armed Forces of National Liberation. The FALN were an armed underground organization that were dedicated to ending US colonialism in Puerto Rico by any means necessary.

The FALN considered itself to be at war with the US government and didn’t recognize the US government as having any legitimate power over Puerto Rico. When they were arrested they took a ‘prisoner of war’ status as per the Geneva Convention and refused to participate in their trials outside of an opening statement declaring that they were captured combatants in an anti-colonial war and according to UN regulations were within their rights to achieve liberation in whatever means they chose. Only Alfredo Mendez eventually cooperated with the US government for a reduced sentence and induction into a witness protection program. The other members of the FALN did twenty years in prison except for Carlos Alberto Torres who did thirty years. They were all freed after an international campaign led by Puerto Ricans pressured  the US government to commute their sentences.

There is still one member of the FALN who is languishing in prison and his name is Oscar Lopez Rivera. He’s been in prison since  May 29th of 1981. Oscar is 70 years old, and there’s an ongoing campaign to free him. To learn more about Oscar check out his new book put out by PM Press, Between Torture And Resistance.

There are more than a few links between what happened on April 4th with those captured FALN combatants and my film MACHETERO. Dylcia Pagan, who was among those who were captured on April 4th, is one of the lead characters in the film. The film’s other lead character Pedro Taino is an amalgamation of two currently held US political prisoners Oscar Lopez Rivera and Black Unity Council member and Black Liberation Army soldier Russell Maroon Shoatz. (Check out the 11 part documentary web series ‘An Ongoing Cost To Be Free’ on Maoon that i recently did.) i chose to use this day, April 4th, to launch a new weekly web series on the songs that were used in MACHETERO that came from the NYC based Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION. The web series kicks off this week with Breakfast In Amerika because it’s April 4th and that song is relevant to this day…

While writing the script for my film MACHETERO, i played RICANSTRUCTION’s 1st album Liberation Day for inspiration. As I went through the writing process the songs started to spill over into the script and seep into the very structure of the film. In a way it made sense that this would happen, Liberation Day was a concept album about Puerto Rico’s violent struggle for independence. MACHETERO was turning out to be the same thing shaped in part by the songs from the album.

MACHETERO’s narrative was literally shaped by Liberation Day. The songs are like a modern day Greek chorus that add another level of narration to the film. A level of narration that brings a macro perspective to the film. Breakfast in Amerika was the 8th track on Liberation Day. The first half of the song talks about the how US political dissidents quickly become US held political prisoners. The history of US political dissidents to US political prisoners is more common than you’d care to think. The Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement, the FALN and many others can attest to this dynamic. Breakfast In Amerika captured this dynamic…

Soldiers sectioned off the street while I was sleeping
something ‘bout the company that I was keeping
crashing throughout the bedroom door one early morning
mashing me onto the floor without a warning
sons of bitches wanted I to give ‘em an answer
meddlers were to my surprise government gangsters
didn’t they know that I was sleeping?

Barrio in barricades without a reason
rounded up in midnight raids and shot for treason
mothers, daughters, fathers, sons placed in detention
bullets beating torture guns to cruel to mention

Sons of bitches wanted I
to tell them my mission
jury declared that I should die
for sedition
didn’t they know that I was just sleeping

The second part of the song is a call and response for Latin American nations to awaken. The call and response comes from Africa and it’s been incorporated into Puerto Rican music. Breakfast In Amerika is essentially a Salsa with distorted guitars. Joseph Rodriguez and Arturo Rodriguez talk about the ideas they were trying to incorporate in Breakfast In Amerika in the video below. Following the interview i did with them is the scene from MACHETERO that incorporated Breakfast In Amerika. The scene is of one of the lead characters Pedro Taino (played by Not4Prophet lead singer of RICANSTRUCTION and author of the lyrics to Breakfast In Amerika) getting arrested in the small hours of the morning. The song was a kind of ode on a certain level to political prisoners and the scene in MACHETERO is a reflection of that… Check it out…

Liberation Day is available on iTunes

Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION
Liberation Day by RICANSTRUCTION

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-10N

Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part 5)


Sacrifice Without Hesitation The Story Of Former US held Political POW Luis Rosa Perez photo by vagabond
Sacrifice Without Hesitation The Story Of Former US held Political POW Luis Rosa Perez photo by vagabond

Luis Rosa Perez is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. He served almost 20 in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from the colonial relationship it’s had with the US since 1898. In 1999 a group of Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war were given clemency by President Clinton. Luis Rosa Perez was among them. Sacrifice Without Hesitation is his story. This fifth episode concludes the documentary web series.

In this final episode Luis talks about how his incarceration politicized his family and brought them closer together. He also speaks about how the FBI tried to get him to turn against his ideals and the fallout his family, friends and loved ones suffered when they felt he wouldn’t. Luis also talks about the value of his sacrifice in the ongoing struggle to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-XK

Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part 4)


Sacrifice Without Hesitation The Story Of Former US Held Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Of War Luis Rosa
Sacrifice Without Hesitation The Story Of Former US Held Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Of War Luis Rosa

Luis Rosa Perez is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. He served almost 20 in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from the colonial relationship it’s had with the US since 1898. In 1999 a group of Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war were given clemency by President Clinton. Luis Rosa Perez was among them. Sacrifice Without Hesitation is his story. This is part four of an ongoing weekly documentary web series.

Part Four
In this episode Luis speaks about his political development and how he felt like joining the clandestine armed movement came out of his ongoing commitment to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism. He also speaks about the ramifications of that decision and the hardship it brought not only to himself but to his family and friends. Despite the pain and difficulty of living in clandestinity and then going to prison for almost twenty years, Luis feels that it was worth it and if he had to do it all over again, he would, a thousand times over if necessary…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Xf

Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part Three)


Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part Three) by vagabond
Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part Three) by vagabond

Luis Rosa Perez is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. He served almost 20 in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from the colonial relationship it’s had with the US since 1898. In 1999 a group of Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war were given clemency by President Clinton. Luis Rosa Perez was among them. Sacrifice Without Hesitation is his story. This is part one of an ongoing weekly documentary web series.

Part Three
In this episode Luis talks about his families struggles as he grows up in Chicago. He lays out the beginnings of his political activism and how he first became politically involved through doing anti-police brutality and anti-gentrification struggles at the tender age of 12. Luis was also took an active part of the campaign to free the Puerto Rican political prisoners of his youth Lolita Lebron, Raphael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, Oscar Collazo, and Irving Flores who were a huge inspiration to him.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-WX

Sacrifice Without Hesitation (Part 2)


Sacrifice Without Hesitation Luis Rosa Perez Part 2
Sacrifice Without Hesitation Luis Rosa Perez Part 2

Luis Rosa Perez is a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. He served almost 20 in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from the colonial relationship it’s had with the US since 1898. In 1999 a group of Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war were given clemency by President Clinton. Luis Rosa Perez was among them. Sacrifice Without Hesitation is his story. This is part two of an ongoing weekly documentary web series.

Part 2
In this episode Luis talks about his experiences as a political prisoner and how the prison system unsuccessfully tried to use that to pit him against the other prisoners. He speaks about maintaining his empathy and humanity in a place designed to strip a person of both. Luis also recounts his state and federal trials and how he refused to participate in them as a young man of 19 years of age.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-WD