Tag Archives: imperialism

2013 MACHETERO Released

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

“I love the cinema passionately enough not to remain a spectator.”
– Francois Truffaut

As part of my looking back on my artistic accomplishments for 2013 the year marked 11 years after the script for MACHETERO was written, 7 years after i started shooting, 5 years after i finished shooting and 5 years after we won the first of six international awards. It also marked the DIY theatrical release of the film. From June 12th through the 19th i rented a small 55 seat theater with a video projector on the Lower East Side of NYC at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center and screened MACHETERO three times a day on weekdays and 5 times a day on weekends. The plan was to garner critical attention to a film that spoke about US colonialism in Puerto Rico that critics might champion, to encourage audiences to  see, so that a much-needed dialogue about US colonialism in Puerto Rico could be had.

i take my DIY seriously, i promoted the film both online and on the streets, sold tickets, popcorn, soda, Cracker Jacks, T-shirts and CD’s, ran the projector, introduced the film and answered questions afterwards. It was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done and it pushed me to my limits. It was a painful uphill battle. Financially i just barely broke even – that is if you don’t count the hundreds of hours of work i put in. i know that admitting to this kind of failure is not a smart thing for someone to do in this business but filmmaking has never been a business for me. Years ago i thought i had chosen to make films but i was wrong, i didn’t choose to make films, filmmaking chose me… i’m not making films for Hollywood, i make films because i have a question that only making a film can answer, so the rules of the Hollywood game don’t apply to me…

The process of a DIY theatrical release was an experiment in separating the wheat from the chaff. It was a means of discovering what filmmaking was for me. It was an attempt to rewrite the rules so that they worked for me rather than against me. On a certain level that attempt failed and on another level it was a resounding success. It failed in terms of trying to garner the critical attention needed for a film like MACHETERO to garner an audience. The film critics i tried courting on Twitter and on Facebook didn’t show any interest in reviewing the film. There was not much of an audience and so there wasn’t much of a discussion on the colonial relationship that the US has had with Puerto Rico for 115 years now. On that front, it failed miserably.

On another level the film succeeded as a means of open political and artistic defiance. A film as outspoken as MACHETERO was never going to be distributed theatrically or otherwise in the US. There are many American films that are critical or call for reform but very few that are anti-American. i have no fear or apprehension in saying that MACHETERO is an anti-American film. US colonialism in Puerto Rico is a distinctly American phenomena and i am openly and unapologetically opposed to it. While it’s true that the first amendment allows you to express those kinds of views in America it doesn’t mean that anyone has to pay attention, it doesn’t mean anyone has to watch or listen to anything you have to say. The radical voice of MACHETERO wasn’t going to be given a chance to be heard within the Hollywood distribution game or the so-called independent alternative distributors. Even if there were a distributor bold enough to take the film on i highly doubt that they would handle the marketing and promotion of the film in a way that would have insured the film’s success. i would have been left alone to do everything i did in terms of a DIY release only now with the added burden of a partner that didn’t know how to pull its own weight.

As someone who wholeheartedly believes in the independence of Puerto Rico and as a filmmaker i wanted my film MACHETERO to start a conversation about US colonialism in Puerto Rico even if it meant releasing the film on my own. What other alternative was there? And so i released it knowing that there the odds were slimmer than slim in finding even a kernel of success. Knowing that the endeavor might destroy the 23 years relationship i’ve managed to have with my girlfriend. Knowing that being ignored by the critics and the machinery was all but guaranteed. Knowing that no one really cares about US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Despite all that, i did it anyway.

i knew that not taking the risk of releasing theatrically was a greater failure. i knew that the regret of not taking the risk was and always is greater than the regret of taking the risk. In that respect the act of releasing MACHETERO in a DIY Stylee {sic} is an act of political and artistic defiance. The world may not want to hear about MACHETERO and US colonialism in Puerto Rico but that doesn’t mean silence is an option… Hollywood has a way of mystifying the filmmaking process so that only a select few should make films and an even fewer number of those films that are made should be seen… By all accounts MACHETERO should never have been made or released theatrically, by all accounts, except mine… Che Guevara once said “The guerrilla wins by not losing” and in that respect the DIY release of MACHETERO was an overwhelming success that i could be proud of…

On September 23rd, a national Puerto Rican holiday celebrating a rebellion against Spanish colonial rule, MACHETERO was released on Vimeo On Demand and you can watch it on your TV, Computer, Tablet or Phone…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1hx


Fuck Columbus

DISCOVERED by vagabond ©
DISCOVERED by vagabond ©

“I should be judged as a captain who went from Spain to the Indies to conquer a people numerous and warlike, whose manners and religion are very different from ours, who live in sierras and mountains, without fixed settlements, and where by divine will I have placed under the sovereignty of the King and Queen our Lords, an Other World, whereby Spain, which was reckoned poor, is become the richest of countries.”

“These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished.”

“Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.”
– Christopher Columbus

Fuck Columbus and the four horsemen of the ongoing capitalist apocalypse that he rode in on, racism, slavery, colonialism and genocide. It’s my contention that Columbus is the father of modern capitalism which is defined by me as the gathering of financial profit by any and all means necessary. There is no code, no moral, no rules that get in the way of financial profit when it comes to capitalism the only code, or moral (if it can even be called that) or rule in capitalism is financial profit at any cost. Slavery, imprisonment, war, famine, disease, genocide it’s all fair ground in capitalism. Nothing stands in capitalism’s way when it comes to making a profit.

This idea of profit at any cost can be traced back to Columbus. Just look at the rapacious addiction to wealth he created in Europe with his so-called “discovery”. The transatlantic slave trade was started because of him. The desire for gold in the so-called “new world” begat the slavery of indigenous people, which then begat the slavery of Africans which then begat colonialism in both the Americas and in Africa and it all starts with Columbus…

Columbus the harbinger of colonialism in the Americas bringing me to the oldest colony in the world can be traced right back to him. Puerto Rico… Columbus first landed in Puerto Rico in 1493 and claimed it for Spain. It remained a colony of Spain until 1897 when Puerto Ricans, after many revolts and insurrections against Spanish colonial rule, managed to negotiate the autonomy of the island nation. 400 years of colonial rule were coming to an end… that is until the bastion of democracy and freedom came to Puerto Rico. The United States of America… The US invaded Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War in 1898 and Puerto Rico went from winning it’s autonomy from Spain, one of the greatest colonial powers in the world to being a colony of the United States the new kid on the colonialism block.

A few years ago i decided to try and create a piece of art work that detailed the history of colonialism in Puerto Rico right back to Columbus. i came up with the DISCOVERED Card as carried by Christopher Columbus. In the background of the card the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The first set of numbers on the card 1119 1493 are the date that Columbus first landed in Puerto Rico November 19th of 1493. The second set of numbers on the card 1210 1898 are the day that Spain gave Puerto Rico to the US December 10th of 1898. Columbus has been a card member of DISCOVERED since 1493 and the expiration date of the colonization he began will hopefully expire 20XX sometime this century for Puerto Rico. The flag in the left hand corner of the card is the Lares flag. The Lares flag was the first Puerto Rican flag ever designed and it was designed for the insurrection known as El Grito de Lares (The Cry Of Lares). The insurrection of Lares, a small mountain town in the center of the island, set in motion the autonomy that Puerto Rico would win against Spain. Under that flag the words GOLD CARD – because what other kind of card would Christopher Columbus carry?

So in honor of this wretched holiday in which we celebrate the genocide, the transatlantic slave trade, the rapacious hunger for financial profits above all else, the rampant colonization of Africa and the Americas and even Asia i give you the DISCOVERED Card. So yeah… Fuck Columbus…

It seems that as much as i hate Columbus he’s had a huge impact on my creative life… So much of my art and filmmaking is about dealing with the effects of Columbus and his rampant capitalism and his opening the doors of colonialism and his conceptualizing multi-generational slavery with his blatant racism. The art i created for the independence of Puerto Rico might never have to be if Columbus had stayed put. My documentaries on political prisoners might not have to be if Columbus never reached these shores because there might not have ever been a need for those people to go to prison. My film MACHETERO about the violent struggle for Puerto Rican independence against US colonialism (which is a continuation of Spanish colonialism)  took me 11 years from the writing of the script to releasing it on Vimeo On Demand

i often think about how my life might have taken a different turn if Columbus hadn’t started all this shit… i often think about how different the world would have been if Columbus and his crew had just died at sea… i often think about how much time and energy and talent is wasted in the world combatting the bullshit Columbus started over 500 years ago… i often think about what i might create if i didn’t have to deal with the Pandora’s box of capitalism that Columbus opened with his colonization and slavery and genocide… So yeah… Fuck Columbus…

“In 1492, the natives discovered they were indians, discovered they lived in America, discovered they were naked, discovered that the Sin existed, discovered they owed allegiance to a King and Kingdom from another world and a God from another sky, and that this God had invented the guilty and the dress, and had sent to be burnt alive who worships the Sun the Moon the Earth and the Rain that wets it.”
– Eduardo Galeano

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1aC

MACHETERO On Demand On El Grito De Lares

MACHETERO On Demand Poster by vagabond ©
MACHETERO On Demand Poster by vagabond ©

“American colonialist imperialism by it’s application of politics that are genocidal and destructive to the personality of the Puerto Rican people to this day, has managed to create a Puerto Rican with a profound dose of repressed violence whose explosion if released would be completely uncontrollable.” – Comandante Filiberto

Today is the 115th anniversary of the insurrection by Puerto Rican revolutionaries against Spanish colonial rule known as El Grito de Lares. On September 23rd of 1868, in the mountain town of Lares Puerto Rico in the center of the island nation a few hundred men and women staged a rebellion to declare Puerto Rico a sovereign nation in the eyes of the world. It was an audacious, risky and daring move on the part of these few brave revolutionaries but isn’t it always that way?

The rebellion was initially planned for September 27th but the revolutionaries were betrayed and the declaration of the Republic of Puerto Rico was declared four days early. The rebels were waiting for a cache of weapons to arrive by sea but when they found out about the betrayal they were forced to move the attack up to the 23rd. Those few days cost them the rebellion. Spain was prepared for the ill-equipped rebels and the rebellion was quickly put down.

Despite the betrayal and it’s subsequent putting down, El Grito de Lares was not a complete failure. In the years following it spawned other revolts against Spanish colonial rule in Las Marías, Adjuntas, Utuado, Vieques, Bayamón, Ciales and Toa Baja. The abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico in 1873 can also be traced back to these revolts. El Grito de Lares also led to a framework of autonomy that Puerto Rico achieved from Spain in 1897. An autonomy that would never come to its full fruition when the US invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 and took the island nation as its own colony after the Spanish-American War.

The significance of El Grito de Lares continues to both haunt and inspire Puerto Ricans. It’s a day that’s celebrated and commemorated each year in the mountain town of Lares. It’s also the day that the FBI assassinated independence leader Comandante Filiberto in 2005 a few miles from that annual celebration. As a speech that Filiberto had sent to the celebration played the FBI and Filiberto were locked in a gun battle that resulted in Filiberto being shot and wounded. As he lay bleeding his speech played. The FBI refused to approach him as he laying bleeding and left him to bleed out for over 24 hours. The esoteric distant memory of El Grito de Lares in 1868 became the tangible weight of El Grito de Lares in 2005.

Filiberto was given a warrior’s funeral. The outrage of the FBI going after Filiberto and assassinating him on this day of all days that all Puerto Ricans consider sacred was expressed in a mixture of rage and sadness the days that followed his assassination and reached a fevered apex on his burial day. Filiberto had the largest funeral in the history of Puerto Rico.

MACHETERO is my narrative feature film debut as a writer, producer and director and it’s a film that was made in a very large part to help address this rebel history that’s been kept hidden from both Puerto Ricans and non Puerto Ricans alike.. The film won awards in South Africa, Wales, England, Thailand, Ireland and New York. It’s a labor of love. A love for cinema, love for art, and love for freedom. It wasn’t easy to make and it’s been a long hard road filled with obstacles that needed to be overcome. So it’s with great pride and immense joy mixed that i’m choosing this day to announce the release of MACHETERO online On Demand through Vimeo. However that pride and that joy is mixed with an equal dose of rage and sadness because Puerto Rico is still a colony of the US and the ghost that is the spirit of El Grito de Lares still haunts us…

Shorlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1a4

Swell City MACHETERO Interview


1. What is Machetero about?
The film follows a French journalist (played by Issach de Bankolé) who comes to New York to interview a so-called “Puerto Rican Terrorist” (played by Not4Prophet) in prison. The journalist is trying to understand why this man has chosen to use violence as a means to free his country. While the two of them speak another storyline in the film develops, as another ghetto youth (played by Kelvin Fernandez) grows up to become the next Machetero, encouraged to by a mentor (played by Dylcia Pagan who is an actual former Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war) and the cycle of violence goes on unbroken. The themes of the film are concerned with the cyclical nature of violence and how the terms of terrorism and terrorist are redefined in the 21st century.

The idea behind making this film goes back to the September 11th, 2001 attacks. The attacks were such a widely publicized and polarizing event that making a film that even slightly referenced the attacks would not bring a fresh perspective to a dialogue that I felt needed to be had but didn’t seem to be happening. Many people don’t realize or recognize that Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for over 110 years and before that was a colony of Spain for 400 years. Throughout that time Puerto Ricans have struggled to emancipate themselves both from Spanish and US colonial rule. Using the Puerto Rican anti-colonial struggle to talk about some of these issues would hopefully open up a dialogue in an otherwise polarizing discussion.

2. Define “Machetero”
There are several ways to define “Machetero”. The literal Spanish translation of the word “Machetero” is a sugar cane worker. Sugar cane is cut with a machete and those who use a machete in their work are called machetero.

The Puerto Rican cultural definition of the word has its roots in the Spanish-American war of 1898. In the late 1800’s Puerto Rico was fighting and negotiating its autonomy with Spain. In Puerto Rico the sugar cane workers, “the macheteros”, fought against both the Spanish and the Americans for their freedom. When Spain lost the war, the Americans demanded $20 million in reparations. Spain gave the Americans, the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico in the treaty of Paris on December 10th of 1898. This is how Puerto Rico went from being a colony of Spain to being a colony of the United States.

In Puerto Rico in the late 1960’s an underground military army was founded to fight for Puerto Rico’s self determination. This group was called El Ejercito Popular Boricua (EPB), – the Popular Puerto Rican Army and was affectionately known as “The Macheteros”. The Macheteros had a saying “Todos Boricua Machetero” – “Every Puerto Rican is a Machetero”. The saying only reinforced the themes of the film. If every Puerto Rican is a Machetero and a Machetero fights for freedom and there are those who are trying to keep you from having that freedom then a cycle of violence emerges, so titling the film Machetero was only natural.

3. In your opinion how is a government that sends troops to attack and invade a country (such as Palestine) any different from smaller “terrorist” organizations?  What’s your definition of terrorism?
Terrorism seems to be a word of scale. You even alluded to it in your question. If you’re in Gaza and Israeli bombs are falling around your home then that could be described as a pretty terrifying situation for the people who live in and around that home. Many people don’t see those actions by the Israeli state as being acts of terrorism because the Israeli state is trying to define what is and what isn’t terrorism in terms of this conflict. However we would all have to agree that having your home or business or school or hospital or place of worship bombed is terrifying and qualifies as an act of terror. But because it’s being done by a state mandated military and because terrorism is something that’s usually defined by those who are the aggressor, it’s not labeled as terrorism.

Controlling and restricting the definition of “terrorism” and reshaping it in terms of scale allows the aggressor to be able to take part in terrorism without ever having to be accused of terrorism. The film tries to address some of these issues of semantics by trying to shift the paradigm to include the actions of the aggressor. This is one of the post 9/11 discussions that I felt needed to happen on a larger scale and that I felt just wasn’t happening.

I think terrorism is an everyday thing all around the world. I think that inequality and injustice is terrorism. I think that poverty is a kind of terrorism, I think that a lack of health care is a kind of terrorism, I think that the limited access to education and housing, clean water and healthy food is all terrorism…

4. What is the difference between an “Anti-Manifesto” and a Manifesto?
A manifesto is a declaration of ideas and politics. In the film the Pedro Taino (the so-called “terrorist”) writes an anti-manifesto that he passes onto a ghetto youth in the street, this anti-manifesto becomes one of the things that encourage him to become a Machetero.

The reason it was called an “anti-manifesto” was because it was meant to be a manual on how to be a Machetero. It wasn’t a declaration of ideas and politics in the way that say the communist manifesto was; it was more like the Hagakure. The Hagakure is a 16th century manual on bushido or how to be a Samurai written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It talks about how a Samurai should conduct his life in every way possible. The anti-manifesto was patterned after that.

What we did with the film and the anti-manifesto was take the previous definitions and ideas of a “machetero” and extend them into a way of life, in order to make it “Machetero”. The anti-manifesto talks about how the “Machetero” should live his or her life and in doing so shapes a kind of politic for the Machetero to follow. So it’s kind of like a manifesto but it’s coming from a different approach.

5. How does the Machetero’s ideology compare and contrast with your own political views?
Bob Marley was asked in an interview how long he had been a Rasta and Bob’s reply was “I been a Rasta ever since…” and I thought that was a beautiful sentiment. On another occasion a journalist asked him that same question and Bob answered “It’s not how long you been a Rasta, but how long it take you to grow to Rasta.” I would say the same is true with the ideology of “Machetero”.

6. Are there any other films that had an influence on you or inspired you to make Machetero?
There were a lot of films that influenced Machetero. Thematically Battle Of Algiers by Gillo Portecorvo, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song by Melvin Van Peebles and The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Ivan Dixon and Sam Greenlee were the largest influences in terms of creating an anti-imperialist film. Other thematic influences include the Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, and Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Structurally there were a few other influences like The Limey by Steven Soderbergh, In Praise Of Love by Jean Luc Godard and Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai by Jim Jarmusch.

Those were the films that I felt had a direct impact on the making of Machetero but I think that when artists create they are creating with everything that has ever influenced them. In the case of Machetero it was also books like Franz Fanon’s The Wretched Of The Earth, Paulo Frierie’s The Pedagogy Of The Oppressed and Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War. Two film essays from Latin America also heavily influenced Machetero. One essay entitled Towards A Third Cinema by Fenrando Solanas and Octavio Getino, two Argentinean filmmakers and another essay entitled For An Imperfect Cinema by Cuban filmmaker Julio Garcia Espinoza.

Music was also a major inspiration in the making of the film. The NYC Puerto Punk band RICANSTRUCTION, had a huge influence on Machetero. RICANSTRUCTION improvised an original score for the film. Their 1st album, Liberation Day informed, guided and shaped the script to the point that seven of the album’s 13 songs are included in the film and those songs aren’t just background but are crucial and integral piece to the film.

7. Where was the film shot?
The film was shot in New York City and Puerto Rico with one scene being shot in Philadelphia. The prison we shot in was an actual prison near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and used to be the Bronx House of Detention. Most of the film was shot in East Harlem where I lived at the time. All the scenes that were shot in Puerto Rico were shot in Loiza, which was an area that was given to newly freed slaves after Puerto Rico abolished slavery. That was important because the abolition movement in Puerto Rico and the independence movement were very closely aligned.

8. What are some of the awards & nominations that Machetero has garnered so far?
Machetero has received quite a few nominations recently. The film was a finalist in the Black Hollywood Film Festival and won Best First Film last year at the International Film Festival South Africa. The film is also up for two more awards in the UK.

The win in South Africa (which was the film’s African premiere) was an emotional one because of the history of struggle that South Africa has been through. When we made this film weren’t just trying to be provincial (in terms of Puerto Rico) in talking about issues of colonialism but wanted to relate it to the African Diaspora because Puerto Rico is a part of the African Diaspora. I think that the South Africans saw themselves in this film, so winning our first award in South Africa was extremely special.

9. Do you feel that film can enlighten people and transform society?
No. I think the purpose of the film is to create dialogue or discussion but that it’s up to people to enlighten and transform society.

10. What is the best piece of advice you can give to a young aspiring filmmaker?
Shoot first and worry about a budget later.

This interview was originally published in Swell City Guide on Oct 16th, 2008.

MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©

MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©

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

NY NY 10002

TICKETS $10 http://machetero.bpt.me
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-6F

Puerto Rican PSA#1

Puerto Rican PSA#1 by  Lisa Gonzalez Sanchez & vagabond ©
Puerto Rican PSA#1 by Lisa Gonzalez Sanchez & vagabond ©

A T-shirt of the DEFIENDE LO TUYO is available from RICANSTRUCTED

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The Electoral Process Of Colonial Democracy

The Fractures Of Colonialism by vagabond ©
The Fractures Of Colonialism by vagabond ©

The essay below was written by Comandante Filiberto Ojeda Rios on a past plebiscite on the status of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a colony of the US and has been since 1898 and there have been several plebiscites that tried to untangle the colonial political reality of the island nation.  On November 6th, while Americans were voting in a Presidential election, Puerto Ricans were voting on a plebiscite that once again dealt with the status issue of Puerto Rico. For more information on that check out my essay The Disenchanted Island.

Comandante Filiberto was the founder and leader of the EPB – (Ejercito Popular Boricua – the Popular Puerto Rican Army), a clandestine organization whose goal was to achieve Puerto Rican independence by any means necessary. US law enforcement agencies have classified the EPB also know more affectionately by Puerto Ricans as Los Macheteros, as a terrorist organization. In 1990 Comandante Filiberto was arrested, on bail and awaiting trial for his involvement in the Macheteros Wells Fargo Armored Truck Robbery. On September 23rd of 1990 he cut off the electronic shackle on his ankle and went underground. He lived in Puerto Rico clandestinely for 15 years but gave television, radio and newspapers interviews, wrote articles and essays and sent audio messages out on the colonization of Puerto Rico throughout that whole time. On September 23rd of 2005, 15 years to the day he went underground and a day that Puerto Ricans celebrate the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, the FBI surrounded his home, shot him in a shootout and left him to bleed to death for over 24 hours.
– vagabond

by Comandante Filiberto Ojeda Rios

Already the teams and fanatics are preparing for the next four years of national sport spectacle that is nothing short of the great human tragedy known as “the electoral process of colonial democracy”. It is a process that has its roots in deception, lies, manipulations, politicking, in illusions and disillusions. In short, it serves to promote and benefit ignorance and the alienation that is well programmed into the unconsciousness or in the opportunism that is found in a good amount of our people.

We have seen, above all things, division: between social castes and sectors that drive our people towards their cravings to provide a (paid) service to the slave masters of the metropolitan government. Those who promote and know how to benefit from so much ideological misfortune, their colors are blue and red, although their projects have nothing to do with the fidelity that is supposedly represented by the color blue. Such fidelity is not offered to the people. Instead it is demanded from them for the benefit of their privileged caste. Neither is red represented well since it has nothing to do with sacrifice nor with the blood shed by martyrs who believe in our nation, in our liberty and in true justice. It instead represents the opportunism of those who appropriate our human condition, intending to reduce us to the level of tamed slaves for the glorification of degenerated values and demoralization.

It has been said repeatedly, that we Macheteros do not believe in the electoral process. This is false. Expressions of such nature serve to confuse our people and to present the Macheteros as an anti-democratic organization, as one of arbitrary tendencies and perhaps autocratic ones as well. This is what could be inferred but it is a great falsehood. We believe in a true electoral process that would be regulated by strict standards of a democratic character. To that end, we would be fully involved in the electoral process when it would be carried out within a nation that is free and sovereign, but never while we continue to exist as a colony. Moreover, we do not believe in the interpretation of the word “democracy” that has been imposed on us, which goes against the very essence and truth contained within it. What has come to be understood as “democracy” is nothing other than the legalization of the powerful economic sectors’ appropriation of all that can supply major riches and possibilities for the control of humanity via robbery, pillage and the invasion of territories. For this, they have necessitated a system that would allow them to legalize their crimes and plunder in the entire world and one that would have, in a most convincing manner, the appearance of having the support of all the population. This is their so-called “democracy”. History is packed with examples of this indisputable truth. It is a system in which the rulers of gigantic economic monopolies, particularly the rulers of prime resources of strategic importance, seek to legitimize their criminal intentions by legalizing those very crimes. The methodology: the invention of a very poor excuse for “democracy”, planned, created and directed by them. This is the same thing that we in Puerto Rico have called “colony by consent”, legitimized by the colonial electoral process under the guise of a “democratic system”.

Secondly, we must admit that it has been very painful for us to see the sad role played by the comrades of the Puerto Rican Independence Party in this electoral process, to see youth who have filled their spirits with hope, holding down the front of their national committee and be victims of the heat of certain members of the New Progressive Party. Independently of the results, independent of the fact that we have never been nor will we ever be in favor of the electoral process in the colony, the final results have not failed to certainly cause us pain and uneasiness. In the end, we feel obligated to condemn all types of insults, mockeries, offensive words, as well as any exploitive tendencies lashed out at the political bullring by those who desire the worst for the PIP (Pro Independence Party) without at least calmly evaluating the state of the situation in general, and, above all, without “acknowledging the dust in own eyes”. We equally criticize the negative expressions and decisions made by some leaders of said organization to interpret the reasons of the electoral misfortunes.

The present moment is for profound reflection oriented towards the harmonizing of all independentistas. It’s not for the immediate opportunist impulse to fish in rough waters. The real conjuncture, if we know how to act correctly and collectively, could very well offer a new possibility for a sane and proper regrouping. It is not with offenses, nor with offensives to “substitute the traditional electoral party”, that we will succeed in becoming a true liberationist movement for our nation. It is not by lunging forward like vultures to feed on the spoils of what some claim to be a total misfortune. Instead it is with true reflection, with respect, with profound and serious analysis, and most of all, with the elimination of this tragic arrogance that has so destroyed us Puerto Ricans and that has to be overcome by true maturity and brotherhood.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-S2

Judging The Judges

Free Norberto by vagabond ©
Free Norberto by vagabond ©

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1, 2

On November 14th, US held Puerto Rican political prisoner Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, will be sentenced for his role in the $7 million dollar Wells Fargo armored truck expropriation executed by the Macheteros in 1983. There’s a lot of assumed information in that one statement so let me lay down some background history to provide a context. Puerto Rico is a colony of the US and has been since 1898. Throughout that time Puerto Rico has struggled in a variety of ways to gain its independence. One of those way has been through violent armed struggle. The Macheteros (also know as the EPB – Ejercito Popular Boricua, or the Popular Boricua Army) were a clandestine armed organization that used military means to achieve independence from US colonial rule. (As a side note the use of revolutionary violence is something that is recognized by the United Nations in resolution 1514 which allows colonized nations to use any and all means to free themselves.) In 1983 the Macheteros robbed a Wells Fargo Armored Truck in Hartford Connecticut for $7 million dollars and used the money to finance anti-imperialist actions for Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.

Norberto was a member of the Macheteros and after the robbery he was wanted by the FBI and so he was forced to go underground. He was 66 years old when the FBI apprehended him. He was charged with the Wells Fargo Armored Truck Robbery and possession of a machine gun which was found when they raided his home in Cayey, Puerto Rico. At the trial Norberto was facing a maximum of 15 years for the Wells Fargo Robbery and a maximum of 10 years for the machine gun possession. Rather than potentially looking at 25 years and possibly dying in prison Norberto agreed to a plea deal that was offered where he would serve 5 years in prison. Which is five years too long.

The Macheteros were labeled a “terrorist” organization by US law enforcement. Norberto is being labeled a “criminal” and a “terrorist”. Norberto’s now a 67-year-old man, who’s been convicted of a crime that took place 30 years ago, a crime that was a part of a larger struggle to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. His older brother Avelino Gonzalez Claudio is 70 years old and suffers from Parkinson’s disease, he’s also a US held Puerto Rican political prisoner who was recently captured in 2010 and is now serving a seven-year sentence for his involvement in the Wells Fargo Armored Truck robbery. Both of these men were forced to go underground after the robbery and lived clandestine lives for almost three decades because of their designation by US law enforcement as “terrorists”. The labeling of Norberto and Avelino as “terrorists” is political semantics, it sets the stage for theatrical political grandstanding. Norberto and Avelino are no more “terrorist” than George Washington and Paul Revere. The theft of $7 million dollars from the Wells Fargo Robbery is no more an act of terrorism than the Boston Tea Party. The designation of them as “terrorists” negates the legitimacy of Puerto Rico to struggle for its independence. This creative semantics places the US government in a position to define what is “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist”, it’s a definition that determines the illegitimacy of a liberation struggle.

The sentencing of Norberto and Avelino is political theater used to unearth the theft of an armored truck in 1983 and to bury the theft of a nation in 1898. The greater crime of colonialism in Puerto Rico goes unrecognized in these carefully constructed spectacles masquerading as trials. The idea that these men who are 67 and 70 can be convicted of a 30-year-old crime, while not considering the 115 year old crime of colonialism is an inversion of reality. Only in an upside down world can this make sense. The reason for turning the world upside down? To make what’s wrong, right and to make what’s right, wrong. To put the world right side up is to recognize the greater crime of colonialism. Puerto Rico generates approximately $35 billion annually of which approximately $1 billion comes back to Puerto Rico. What’s the bigger crime here? The continued exploitation of a nation or the robbery of an armored truck? The Macheteros were making a point with the Wells Fargo Truck Expropriation, it’s symbolic on the level of microcosm that widens the perspective to the level of macrocosm allowing everyone to see the colonization, (the theft) of a nation, but the symbolism of it seems to go unseen and unheard by the US government as it continues to put on these elaborate charades of legality in the face of immorality…

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:3 – 5

There will be demonstrations scheduled for Norberto’s sentencing on November 14th at the courthouse in Hartford Connecticut, at the Federal building in downtown Manhattan, in New York City and in Puerto Rico, to let it be known that resistance will continue as long as the world is upside down and Puerto Rico is a colony…

For more information on the demonstrations….
For more information on the Puerto Rican independence struggle…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Ro