This is another excerpt from the script of the six-time award-winning film MACHETERO. Watch it VOD as a rental for 48 hours or download it to own it.
[vimeo 75167575 w=600&h=337]
CONTEXT ON THE SCRIPT EXCERPT
For some context to the script excerpt below… Jean is a French journalist who is interviewing Pedro about his decision to use violence as a means of liberating Puerto Rico from US colonialism. The interview takes place in a prison where Pedro is being held for trying to overthrow the US government in Puerto Rico. Pedro describes himself as a Machetero, a historical and cultural symbol of resistance to colonialism in Puerto Rico.
In the film the questions and answers are all in voice over with other images contrasting the dialogue. This scene is the climax of the film where for the first time we see and hear Jean and Pedro face to face and understand for the first time that the interview we have been hearing all along is this interview. In the film this dialogue goes on for much longer than is here so if this interests you consider renting or buying MACHETERO digitally…
Jean in the film is played by international film star Isaach de Bankolé who you may recognize from such films as Ghost Dog, Manderlay, The Limits Of Control, night On Earth, Chocolat and Casino Royale. Pedro is played by lead singer of Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION and MC of the hip hop duo X-Vandals, Not4Prophet. MACHETERO’s story revolves around this interview between Jean and Pedro.
EXCERPT FROM THE SCRIPT
JEAN AND PEDRO FACE TO FACE
The US government has a policy of not making deals with terrorists.
“For the strong to hear the weak their ears will have to be opened with bullets” – Albizu.
You had to know that you would have been caught eventually.
“It took seven of them to break my jaw, but the power of the whole American empire could not break my spirit.” – Rafa
Sedition is a crime punishable by death in this country.
“I didn’t come to kill I came to die.” – Lolita.
So you thought you could change the mind of the US congress with bullets? How will violence liberate you? Hasn’t the time of political power through violence passed? Haven’t the examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and even someone still here with us today Nelson Mandela shown us a new way? In South Africa black Africans are forgiving their white oppressors in an attempt to break this cycle of violence and hatred. Do you really believe violence will change anything?
Are you asking for mercy from the victims of violence? Have you asked those who want me dead, to show me mercy?
Are you asking for mercy? Are you asking your oppressor for your freedom?
My freedom is not something that my oppressors can give me. My freedom is something that I take.
Killing US congressmen and CEO’s and bombing US military targets is taking your freedom?
Your freedom? Doesn’t that sound egotistical, self-centered and selfish? Is that what this is all about? Your freedom? I thought you were fighting for more than that? I thought you were fighting for the freedom of your country. I thought you were fighting for ideals. I thought you were fighting for something greater than yourself.
No one is free until all of us are free. Steven Biko said “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” The decolonization of self is the decolonization of the nationless nation.
STILLS FROM THE PRISON SET
These are some stills taken from the prison set which was shot in an actual prison. The prison is the old Bronx House of Detention on River Ave just a stones throw from the old Yankee Stadium. The Bronx House of Detention is now gone. Replaced by a shopping mall. A Target now sits in its place.
“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…
The end is near. The wait is almost over. The anticipation is coming to a close. After many long hard years MACHETERO will have it’s DIY theatrical release in NYC in June. The film will have a one week release beginning Wednesday, June 12th and running through Tuesday, June 19th. The run will happen in the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in NYC’s LES (Lower East Side) at 107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey. Screenings will happen at the Kabayito’s Theater on the second floor of Clement Soto Velez. The film’s running time is 98 minutes and there will be 5 showings a day with screening times at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. Tickets for the screening are $10.
The thought of having someone else distribute this film made me uneasy. i didn’t know if i could trust someone else with it. When i think of the films that had a direct influence on MACHETERO, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, The Battle Of Algiers and The Spook Who Sat By The Door i think about the fate that these films met when they were distributed. Melvin Van Peebles had to self distribute Sweetback because no distributor would take it on. Gillo Portecorvo’s The Battle Of Algiers was banned in France for its unapologetic anti-colonial view. Ivan Dixon and Sam Greenlee’s Spook Who Sat By The Door was banned by the FBI and all its prints burned for fear it would spark revolution in the streets. Walking in the footsteps of those filmmakers and those films, MACHETERO doesn’t pull any punches. It’s openly critical of the US government’s colonization of Puerto Rico. When i think about it, i don’t think there is a single distributor in the US that would actually put this film in theaters. So when i decided to take a DIY approach to distribute the film, i immediately felt much more at ease.
i grew up in the era of Hip-hop and Punk and so i take my DIY very seriously. i made this film with friends and family. Like minded people who wanted to do something radically different. We put art and ideas at the forefront. We reveled in finding ways to create advantages out of our limitations and didn’t hold back in our artistic approach or in our political point of view. Not doing a DIY distribution campaign would be a kind of betrayal to the spirit that the film was made in. MACHETERO is a film about freedom and what could be more free than DIY? What could be more free than the ability to fail or succeed on your own terms?
The film was made in the community, by people from the community, for people in the community. The only way to continue that communal spirit is to sit with other people in a dark theater as the light streams from a projector onto a screen experiencing cinema as it should be experienced as a community… So i’m asking you to support true independent, anti-corporate, anti-Hollywood, filmmaking… Support Puerto Rican filmmaking… Support Afro-Latino filmmaking… Support artistically and politically radical revolutionary filmmaking… Consider this your invitation to the NYC theatrical release of MACHETERO…
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.
Today is Dylcia Pagan’s birthday. If you don’t know who Dylcia Pagan is then that’s probably by design. To know Dlycia is to know is to know that Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898 and this isn’t a fact that the US likes to highlight as it supposedly beats the drum for democracy and freedom around the world from North Korea to Afghanistan. So not knowing who Dylcia is, is by design, because to not know Dylcia is to not know that the US has been a colonizing power in Puerto Rico for over a hundred years. Why are Dylcia and Puerto Rico’s colonialism so inextricably linked? Because Dylcia is a former US held political prisoner of war who spent 20 years in US prisons for fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism.
Dylcia was a member of the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional or the Armed Forces of National Liberation), a clandestine Puerto Rican group that used any and all means, including military means, to achieve the liberation of Puerto Rico from US colonialism. They were labeled a terrorist group by US law enforcement and they were hunted down as such. On April 4th of 1980, the FBI arrested a number of FALN member in Illinois and Dylcia was among those arrested. She was charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. During her trial, she and her co-defendants chose to take a prisoner of war status as was their right under the Geneva Convention. The US legal system refused to recognize their status as Prisoners of War and Dylcia and her co-defendants refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the US government. In the end the US government found them guilty and sentenced them to incredibly long prison terms. Dylcia was sentenced to 63 years.
In September of 1999, President Clinton pardoned Dylcia and nine other Puerto Rican political prisoners of war. She’s been living in Loiza, Puerto Rico since she was release. Although Dylcia is best known as being a freedom fighter, it’s only a part of who she is, her story and the sacrifices she made for her ideals make her a heroine, not just for Puerto Ricans, not just for women, but for all of us… Check out the short film below i did of Dylcia where she’s tells her own story…
“Mother should I run for President? Mother should I trust this government? Mother will they put me in the firing line? Ooooooh, Is it just a waste of my time?” – Mother by Pink Floyd
On November 4th of 2007 on the night Barak Hussein Obama was elected as the US President i was finishing up the edit on this video. X-Vandals had done a cover of the song Mother from Pink Floyd’s high concept album The Wall and while President Obama was being elected i was uploading the X-Vandal’s Mother video up to YouTube. X-Vandals is MC Not4Prophet and DJ Johnny Juice. Not4Prophet is the lead vocalist of Hardcore Salsa, Reggae, Be-Bop, Hip-Hop, Punk band RICANSTRUCTION and half of the spoken noise duo known as Renegades Of Punk, DJ Johnny Juice is one of the DJ’s and producers of the iconic Public Enemy. Together they create what i call Prog-Hop (Progressive Hip-Hop). Cerebral Hip-Hop you can shake your ass to… These many years later this cover of Mother by X-Vandals and the accompanying video i did for it, seems to have taken on an even greater importance.
America has always been a land of contradictions due to the mythology it’s propagated about being the bastion of democracy and equality in the world, while at the same time dealing in the reality of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and imperialism. It’s not that other nations don’t also struggle with those very same issues, it’s just that America likes to puff up it’s chest and pound on it in verbose boasting about how free and exceptional it is to the rest of the world. Americanism has never been one that’s wanted equality, American elites have never been too keen on honoring agreements with first nations peoples in the Americas, or freeing slaves, or giving women the right to vote, or giving workers an 8 hour day or a living wage, or giving LBGTQ people equal rights. In many ways the mythology of America’s equality that’s been sold, has been bought wholesale by those who need it most and when they find those promises to be empty vessels, they struggle to force America to make good on it’s promises by pouring themselves into the void. This is where the contradiction comes, the promises made by American mythology can only be fulfilled if you’re willing to fight for that mythology to exist as a reality. The ideals that America likes to put forth as inherently and quintessentially ones that could only exist within America are ideals that are not bestowed from above by some American divinity, as advertised, but are fought and sometimes won from below, but not without some great cost, and at a speed that can be best described as glacial in comparison to the rhetoric that is spouted.
People come to America wanting to believe in those ideals like Barak Obama’s father did or are born here believing in those ideals as Barack Obama himself does. The incredible arc of Barak Obama’s very life is the embodiment of the American contradiction. The X-Vandals Mother video is an essay that tries to bring these seemingly disparate ideas together. Obama’s rise to the Presidency is in many ways analogous to the bottom forcing it’s will upon the mythology of America. In 2008 Obama’s fight for the presidency was a challenge to the mythology of America, a challenge that was set on a world stage. For the first time in history, people around the world were paying attention to the US presidential election because it challenged America’s mythology of equality and democracy. It’s also the reason the whole world had a reason to be happy when Obama won. It wasn’t his politics that made Obama so popular but the fact that he had forced the promise of the American myth to finally yield to fulfilling itself into some kind of reality.
The problem is that American mythology has a pathology of yielding to reality but only with the idea of perpetuating itself. Barak Obama is the President but the racism that made his run for presidency such a dramatic undertaking still simmers to an occasional boil as it has in the recent Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin followed the next day by the completely unrelated burning of a Mosque in Joplin, Missouri. The old saying applies here – ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. Many called the election of America’s first Black President the end of racism, but racism didn’t end. The election of Barak Obama and the persistence of racism has now become a part of American mythology and so the American myth bends to reality only in ways that strength the myth. The myth of America remains intact even with a Black president.
The Mother video is an essay on the embodiment of the American myth clashing with the American reality within the life of Barak Obama. The video makes a distinction between Mother, Mama and She. Mother is a role occupied of course by Barak Obama’s mother, it’s a personal plea of a son to his mother. The connection we have to the story the video tells is through Obama and so his plea for answers from his mother become our pleas for answers.
“Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb? Mother do you think they’ll like this song? Mother do you think they’ll break my balls? Ooooooh, Mother should I build a wall?”
‘Mama’ in the song and the video is a stand-in for America. The images are political cries from below to force into being the reality of freedom and equality onto the mythology of America. ‘Mama’ is America’s response to those demands being made. This is an interesting piece because Not4Prophet adjusted the original lyrics of Mother to highlight the contradiction of the American myth in a concise and condensed way. ‘Mama’ conjures up the best ideas of motherhood but it’s countered to the point of negation with the threats that can only come from the absolute power to shape our world as ‘Mama’ sees fit…
“Hush now baby, baby, baby, baby, it don’t mean a thing.
Mama gonna keep all you nightmares in a sling. Mama gonna teach all of her fears in to your skin.
Mama gonna keep her baby hangin’ from a string.
Mama gonna sleep you underneath her broken wing.
Mama gonna let you sing or chew a teething ring.
Mama gonna have a soldier slangin’ for the bling.
Mama gonna turn you from a baby to a king, king, king.“
The last question the video and the song proposes is one for all of us watching. The images are of Obama asking his mother about America. In this last part of the song America is She. America is the woman Obama loves and the questions he asks of his mother are searching for her approval and her advice on what he loves. The questions being asked are also forcing us as observers to ask ourselves what those answers should be…
“Mother do you think She’s good enough for me? Mother do you think She’s dangerous to me? Mother will She tear your little boy apart? Mother will She break my heart?
Mother did it have to be so high.“
The price exacted by all this is high, very high and i feel for Obama in this instance. The hopes and desires of the whole world are projected onto him, in the same way that the hopes and desires of the world are projected onto America. This is by design, in both of these instances. America wants and needs to have the hopes and desires of the world projected onto it, so that it can manipulate it for it’s own selfish gain. Obama being President of the United States would also have to absorb the hopes and desires of the whole world since he has decided to be a part of the American myth. In a small way I feel for Obama because it’s one thing to have the hopes and desires of millions projected onto a deeply flawed and complex mythological system like the one America has created for itself and another thing to have that projected onto you as a single human being.
I’m not an Obama supporter simply because i don’t think that the Presidency matters in this government. i don’t think any political office matters very much. i don’t think this government is designed to work to the benefit of the least among us. This country got off on the wrong foot when it allowed slavery as it demanded freedom. Even when it got it’s freedom it defined Black people to be 3/5’s of a human being and it only allowed white male land owners the right to vote. For all the talk about the US Constitution being some brilliant document, it’s weighed down by it’s own contradictions. For all the talk of the slave owning founding fathers calling for freedom and liberty, it’s no wonder that the claims of America are like some snake oil salesman who is run out of town by an angry mob (dressed as it’s citizenry) who extract refunds in the forms of freedoms that should have been guaranteed at the point of sale. In this swirling vortex of contradictions comes Obama weighed down by the mythology of America that he needs to accept in order to try and deliver on the promise of America while at the same time not moving so fast as to exact a price that is higher than he’s willing or able to pay. It’s an impossible feat, the price is made too high by the American myth makers, high enough to tear a man apart…
To get X-Vandals first album The War Of Art click here…
Note: Mother isn’t on this album. It will be released on the next X-Vandals album…
Filiberto Ojeda Rios was a controversial figure when he lived. He was a Puerto Rican revolutionary who fought to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. He was not afraid to use force to achieve those means and founded clandestine organizations such as the EPB (Ejercito Popular Boricua – Popular Puerto Rican Army) also known as Los Macheteros to carry his vision for a free Puerto Rico by any and all means necessary including the use of violence. Not surprisingly that political stance got Filiberto and Los Macheteros labeled as a terrorists by the US government.
Filiberto was a fugitive and one of the most wanted men on the FBI top ten list for 15 years. The FBI finally caught up with Filiberto on September 23rd of 2005, launching an assault that resulted in Filiberto being shot and wounded. Many claimed that this was not an operation to capture Filiberto but to kill him. Filiberto was left to bleed out from his wound for almost 24 hours. The outrage that this sparked in Puerto Rico and across the world carried the controversy of Filiberto’s life into his death.
A new documentary titled Filiberto, is exploring the issues of a man who was described as a terrorist by some and as a revolutionary by others. The complex nature of Filiberto has even followed him into the financing and production of the film. i interviewed a producer of Filiberto, Freddie Marrero about the project.
vagabond: Filiberto Ojeda Rios is a pretty complex and polarizing figure in Puerto Rico. What specifically drew you to wanting to do a documentary about him?
Freddie: I was drawn into Ojeda Ríos’ story by the reaction his death had on the people of Puerto Rico. It was very intriguing to see so many people of diverse backgrounds coming together to show their respect to him during his wake and burial. San Juan Archbishop and former governor Rafael Hernández Colón attended his wake. Children came out of school along the route towards the cemetery. It was something out of the ordinary to see hundreds of people participating in the farewell of someone on the FBI Wanted List. A bandit? A criminal? A hero? A terrorist? A patriot? So many questions, that we decided to begin shooting to find out who he really was.
He advocated armed resistance against US imperialism and founded clandestine armed organizations that carried out violent operations against US interests. Those seem like things that an Archbishop and a former governor would want to distance themselves from. It’s a strange thing because most Puerto Ricans don’t seem to support independence but Filiberto seems to have been celebrated as a folk hero to Puerto Ricans. Is that a dynamic that you’re trying to explore in your film?
Yes it was rather strange, almost like something that came out of a kind of magical realism. His funeral was attended by so many people. It was as big as Luis Muñoz Marin’s and bigger than Luis A. Ferré, former governors of Puerto Rico. That’s something that we’re exploring in the film along with other expressions such as the many murals, graffiti, artworks and music made in his honor. He had an impact on many people as individuals but also on people in a collective way as well. Yet so few people truly knew Ojeda Ríos. Most people knew one of his multiple dimensions. Let’s not forget he lived underground for almost four decades! (More than half his life.) So he was Felipe Ortega, trumpet player, for folks in the music circles. He had plenty of nicknames for his comrades in many militant organizations, the public first knew about him by the press and later on he became a public figure rendering clandestine interviews or sending out his own recordings on audiotapes, that were to be burned just after their dissemination to avoid becoming any sort of evidence on his whereabouts. So the documentary will try to, by means of diverse testimonies and archive material, put everything together so that people would get a better sense of who he was as a whole human being.
A major part of Filiberto’s adult life was spent being an anti-imperialist revolutionary. Many people don’t know or just aren’t clear about the colonial relationship that the US has had with Puerto Rico since 1898. How difficult was it to inform the audience of that history while still keeping your focus on Filiberto?
That’s very challenging. It still is. To tell the story of Ojeda Ríos knowing that part of the the audience would not know the basic context of the U.S. and Puerto Rico’s unique political relationship. For instance the date September 23 has a special meaning on this story for several reasons (Grito de Lares 1868, Ojeda Ríos breaking his monitoring bracelet and going underground in 1990, Ojeda Ríos Siege and Death in 2005) and that’s something we need to weave into the narrative without loosing our focus. The solution we’ve found to this is that the documentary works the dialectic between Ojeda Ríos’ life and the history he lived in. So there are many scenes of a historical nature that would fill in those who don’t know anything about Puerto Rico’s history.
The FBI kept Filiberto under constant surveillance until he went underground in 1990, and you managed to get FBI agents who were familiar to the case as well as wire-tap recordings and surveillance photos, how difficult was it to gain access to that information?
There’s a lot of information and documents that exists because the Indictment (H-85-50 TEC) against those accused of being part of the Wells Fargo robbery is still open. As you know, Víctor Manuel Gerena (AKA Aguila) is the fist name listed on the indictment and to this date he still is at large. He has the distinction of being the longest featured person on the FBI’s Ten-Most Wanted List. That means that all the information regarding that case is still available. However, it was difficult and it’s still an ongoing process gaining access to parts of that information. You have to think that we are talking about hundred of boxes of paper, hundreds of audiotapes and thousands of pictures. So it’s a lot! We’ve gained access to a good sample of all that information, that was used as evidence in court, and it’s something that will add to the production value of the documentary, as the public will be able to see some of these pictures and listen to some of the wire-taps themselves.
You managed to get some international support for the film, how did that come about?
What has allowed the project to move forward all these years is the support from the international film community that we’ve received. A couple of years ago, during the development stage the project received awards in the Nuevas Miradas market in El Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoaméricano held in La Havana, later on we received the prestigious Chrubusco Post-Production Prize at the Film Market of the Festival Internacional de Cine de Guadalajara. We have established a co-production partnership with Panafilms in Caracas. We have a distribution deal in place with Casa Comal in Guatemala. And we’re soon attending The SunnySide of the Doc in La Rochelle with the support of The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. We did carry out most of principal photography during 2011 with the support of the Programa Ibermedia which is an international Fund Based in Madrid. So many wonderful people and institutions from all over the world recognize the merits of this project and want the story of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos be told.
It seems the controversy of your subject has followed you into your production. Your production company Proyecto Chingara is suing the Puerto Rico Film Commission for breach of contract. The Puerto Rico FIlm Commission promised to lend almost $100,000 to the production and then decided not to because they thought the film would be political partisan?
Unfortunately that’s right. They approved a production loan for $93.4K and we worked together as partners finding the remaining finance. They supported us all the way into getting the Ibermedia Loan which completed the financing. But then they made an about-face and withdrew the funds. We found ourselves in the midst of a production process without funds to complete the documentary. With local and international deals we had made with the support of the Corporación de Cine (Puerto Rican FIlm Commmisson) and now they just walk out on their responsibility. So there was really no other option but to sue them with two goals: 1. to have them fulfill their financial obligations towards this documentary and 2. to reestablish the confidence of international funders and investors with local producers and institutions. We know these legal channels take time so we have been working on a crowdsourcing campaign where people who would like this story to be told can help collectively fund the documentary. The URL www.proyectochiringa.org will take you to our campaign where you can watch a teaser and make a donation. So far people from United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, United Kingdom and The Neatherlands have donated to help complete Filiberto.
Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican revolutionary fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. On May 29th of 1981 Oscar was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. As of today he will have served 31 years in prison. Below is a message sent by Oscar on his 31st anniversary. Below that are ways in which you can find more information on Oscar and the campaign to set him free.
OLR • May 29, 2012
Greetings with Much Respect and Love
i want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Puerto Rican people in PR and in the diaspora for the support you have given me during the past 31 years. i also want to express the same gratitude to the freedom and justice loving people in the u.s. and in different parts of the world for the solidarity they’ve shared with me. The support i’ve received has been a fountain of strength that has helped me face and deal with the difficult challenges i’ve experienced in prison during the past 31 years, and to remain morally and spiritually strong to continue struggling and resisting.
The 31 years seem to have passed fleetingly. Many radical changes have occurred all over the world during this period of time. In Latin America progressive presidents rule in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina. In the last two countries the presidents are progressive women. And in Puerto Rico the us navy is no longer present in Vieques. Unfortunately, the most important change Puerto Ricans need has not taken place. Because colonialism seems to be more entrenched now than ever.
It was Jose Marti who said that for a people to be free they needed to be cultured. i believe Puerto Ricans are a cultured people. Yet we still are a colonized people. We are also a morally, mentally, spiritually strong people. But we haven’t been able to make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.
It was Albert Einstein who said that by repeating the same experiment the results were always going to be the same. Doing that is nothing else than an exercise in futility. And Puerto Rican independentists have been repeating the same experiment for decades and obtaining the same results without being able to achieve their goal of an independent and sovereign nation. The celebration of plebiscites has been such an experiment. So why do we continue engaging in Sisyphean tasks? What should we do? Let’s pay heed to Einstein’s wise warning.
My proposal is a simple one. Let’s work on the problems we can resolve with the means and resources we have at our disposal. For example, let’s take one problem related to the health issue we are facing – obesity. To resolve this problem a simple change in lifestyle will do. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and create a support network. We can also start programs of urban gardening. There’s space for such a program in the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. And in those spaces we can grow healthy products that can help with a nutritional diet. We can look for alternative sources of energy and of transportation. Let’s start thinking of changes we can make in our lifestyles and we can resolve some of the difficult problems we face. Problems shouldn’t intimidate or scare us. They should produce ideas in our heads and challenge us to find solutions. Finding solutions to problems give us confidence, and help us transcend our colonized mentality. And that transcendence gets us closer to our goal of achieving an independent and sovereign nation and a better and more just world. We are intelligent enough to know what needs to be done. We can change lifestyles in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora and by doing so we will grow stronger morally, physically, spiritually and mentally. We can make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.