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The FBI’s Latest Conspiracy Theory

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Was the death of Filiberto Ojeda a concocted attack of the U.S. Government to the Puerto Rican Independence struggle or was it a strategic action to provoke insurgence?

Notorious criminal and runaway fugitive Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was murdered in an alleged shootout with FBI agents on September 23, 2005 at Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, where he had been hiding for years. Filiberto Ojeda Ríos had been living in a rural neighborhood of the west coast town of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico for years before his capture. He had very nonchalantly blended in with the locals and was known by everyone as “Don Luis,” the old man who loved flowers and dutifully tended to his garden.

The truth about the identity of “Don Luis” had nothing to do with flowers or well manicured gardens. Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, was the leader of the Ejército Popular Boricua, also known as the “Macheteros”, which was none other than the revolutionary faction of Puerto Ricans (independentistas), who have wanted to sever their ties to the U.S.A. and become an independent nation. The principal philosophy of the “Macheteros” is to deploy the use of arms and/or violence in order to take back “la patria” (the nation). At the time of his capture Filiberto Ojeda Ríos featured in the FBI’S Most Wanted list for crimes such as domestic terrorism for his alleged involvement in the armed robbery of $7.2 million from the Wells Fargo Depot in Hartford, Connecticut for the alleged purpose of financing their movement.

The two most powerful institutions in the American Democracy are the FBI and the CIA. Paradoxically enough, these two ‘agencies’ –if we can call them that–, specialize in undermining the basic concepts of democracy such as our right to privacy, to free speech, the right to choose your leaders, (just to name a few) that the U.S.A. stands for. Of course, this allegedly takes place on behalf of national security. American history is plagued with accounts linking to either of these two agencies, in the most scandalous and shameful events throughout modern history: the Kennedy assassination (or shall I say Kennedys); the failed attempts to murder Fidel Castro; the Oklahoma City Bombing; the Waco Texas Massacre and 9/11, just to name a few. My fellow Puerto Rican, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, has now joined that infamous list.

On the same day Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was killed on September 23; on that same day in 1868, a contingency of about 600 Puerto Ricans rebelled against the Spanish Government in what has passed down to the history books as “El Grito de Lares” or Lares’ Uprising. Lares is a small town in the central mountainous region of the island. The Puerto Rican rebels used Lares as the launching site of their rebellion against the mistreatment of the Spanish government. Since the Puerto Rican rebels could not compare in dexterity and available weapons, the Spanish quickly ended their attempt. Nonetheless, this attempted revolt convinced the Spanish Government to confer more powers and freedoms to the people of Puerto Rico.

As I was saying before, Filiberto Ojeda Rios was killed by a contingency of FBI agents precisely the day Puerto Ricans commemorated “El Grito de Lares.” As part of a tradition, “independentistas” all head to Lares on that day and gather to renew their commitment towards the independence of Puerto Rico. Just so you know, the electoral participation of the independentistas throughout most of Puerto Rico’s modern history is of about 5% of the voters. Puerto Ricans are mainly divided between the New Progressive Party, who promotes statehood and the Popular Democratic Party who promotes our current Commonwealth Status.

As a contingency of 300 agents surrounded the house of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, on the afternoon of September 23, his voice was being heard by means of a recorded message, at the Lares’ gathering. The FBI claims they had been staking him out for months. They later explained that they chose September 23rd for their intervention, because they knew that he was going to be less guarded that day. Local news reports claim that Filiberto Ojeda Rios asked to surrender with the help of a local news reporter and that the FBI refused his offer. His wife, who was with Ojeda Ríos at the time, attests to the FBI’s refusal of his offer. Interestingly enough, the FBI agents allowed Filiberto’s wife to surrender. Even more interesting is the fact, that the FBI has made public that they don’t intend to prosecute Mrs. Ojeda.

Bear in mind folks, that Filiberto was 72 at the time of his unfortunate death. He had battled with health problems and wore a pacemaker. The refusal of Filberto’s offer to surrender drove these two very agitated parties to fire their guns. Filberto wounded an FBI agent and Filiberto himself was shot somewhere near the collar bone. All this happened that same Saturday. The media swarmed the place, the Governor of Puerto Rico and the local authorities found out (word is they found out via CNN) that the FBI had an operation going on to capture Ojeda Ríos. The FBI never notified the Chief of the Police Department, (who by the way is a former FBI agent) or the Chief of the Justice Department, or the Attorney General of their intentions to capture Ojeda Ríos or asked for assistance in doing so.

The plot thickens. Since the local authorities found out that Filiberto Ojeda Ríos had been murdered by the FBI, the Governor ordered the Attorney General – Pedro G. Goyco- to send two local Prosecutors to investigate the alleged crime scene. If Filiberto had been killed, only the local prosecutors had jurisdiction to order the removal of his body. When the two prosecutors arrived to the crime scene, the FBI denied them access. The Attorney General came down to the scene himself and he was also denied access. To make a long story short, local authorities were not allowed to enter the scene until 72 hours later, where they found Filiberto Ojeda Rios dead in a large pool of blood. It makes you wonder, what took them so long?

As soon as the local authorities were allowed to enter the scene, the Chief of the Justice Department, Roberto Sanchez, issued a subpoena to the FBI ordering them to hand in for analysis the gun that allegedly killed Ojeda Ríos. The Chief of the Justice Department also ordered an autopsy of Filiberto’s body. Meanwhile Filiberto’s death resonated throughout the island, creating very polarized opinions. Some people felt that Filberto was a hero who had died for “la patria.” Others believed Ojeda Ríos was a criminal and a fugitive and that he had finally been brought to justice. On one thing, however, everybody agreed: the circumstances of his death were very suspicious.

The autopsy performed by the Medical Examiner’s office revealed that Filiberto Ojeda had bled to death. The Chief Medical Examiner concluded in his report that if Filiberto Ojeda had received timely medical attention, he most likely would have survived. The FBI later explained that they waited 24 hours after hearing the last gunshot from Ojeda Ríos, to enter the farmhouse he was hiding in because they were following orders from ‘Washington.’ This is the stuff on which conspiracy theories develop and take a life of their own.

The majority of the Puerto Rican population believes Ojeda Ríos was intentionally murdered by the FBI. The independentistas claim that the U.S. Government tried to hurt the independence struggle by killing Ojeda Rios. I beg to differ. I believe the U.S. Government intentionally killed Ojeda Ríos, strategically, on the commemoration of Lares’ Uprising not to hurt the independence movement (trust me, I live in the Island –what movement are they talking about?), but to generate insurgence and infuse renewed strengths to that ailing movement. Bush is well known for his unjustified violence-prone presidency and this just seems like something he would be responsible for. The fact of the matter is that the time is drawing close not for Puerto Ricans to decide their political fate (we have not really agreed on that yet), but for the U.S Government to decide the fate of Puerto Rico and the almost 4 million Puerto Ricans who have been granted, by means of a congressional act, American citizenship.

Puerto Ricans seem very comfortable with their ties to the U.S. It would take something truly grave and offensive, some might think, to outrage the masses. The death of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos is not it. I believe that’s what ‘Washington’ intended to provoke: outrage. It’s easier to explain to the global community that you had to cut the Puerto Ricans off because they revolted against you than to cut them off because you don’t see more use in your relationship with them anymore. Unfortunately for the pistoleros in Washington this was an ill conceived strategy that will go awry. The catch-22 is that even after his death, Filberto Ojeda Ríos always got his way. He never really served jail time for the crimes he committed.

The author is a lawyer in Puerto Rico and has been admitted to practice in the Federal District Court for Puerto Rico and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. ED/PUB:LM

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  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    GREAT reading… I can’t help but wonder why, in fact, it would take them 24 hours to enter the scene….

  • Les Slater

    I support the independence of the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico. Filiberto Ojeda Ríos is a fighter and a hero. He lives on. Presente!

    > the electoral participation of the independentistas throughout most of Puerto Rico’s modern history is of about 5% of the voters. Puerto Ricans are mainly divided between the New Progressive Party, who promotes statehood and the Popular Democratic Party who promotes our current Commonwealth Status.

    > Puerto Ricans seem very comfortable with their ties to the U.S.

    I’ll quote Cancel Miranda on that. From a 1998 interview:

    “U.S. imperialism controls our country socially, politically, and economically. We are a militarily occupied country – we’re saturated by U.S. military bases. They control the mass media. They control our schools. They indoctrinate us from the time we’re children. They tell you who to hate and who not to hate. They can even indoctrinate you to hate yourself,”

    > It would take something truly grave and offensive, some might think, to outrage the masses. The death of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos is not it. I believe that’s what ‘Washington’ intended to provoke: outrage. It’s easier to explain to the global community that you had to cut the Puerto Ricans off because they revolted against you than to cut them off because you don’t see more use in your relationship with them anymore.

    I’ll post hear an editorial from the Militant of which I totally concur:

    http://www.themilitant.com/2005/6939/693921.html

    Prosecute FBI cops who killed Ojeda
    (editorial/campaign statement)

    We are using our editorial space this week to publish major excerpts from a statement released September 27 by Martín Koppel, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York City.

    ****************************************************
    We join with thousands of people, from Puerto Rico to New York, in protesting the cold-blooded execution of Puerto Rican independence fighter Filiberto Ojeda Ríos by FBI agents. Those responsible for his death should be prosecuted and jailed, from the FBI agents who pulled the trigger to the federal officials who ordered the murderous assault.

    The FBI’s claim that its agents fired only in self-defense and that Ojeda died in a shootout was rapidly exposed as a lie. Dozens of heavily armed cops staked out the farmhouse where he lived, refused Ojeda’s offer to turn himself in to a well-known journalist, wounded him in the chest with a single shot, and let him bleed to death until the next day. Adding insult to injury, U.S. officials chose to launch the assault on September 23, the date of the Grito de Lares (Cry of Lares) annual pro-independence celebration.

    The killing of Filiberto Ojeda is part of the long history of attacks by the U.S. government on the Puerto Rican independence movement. The FBI has framed up independence fighters from Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos in the 1930s to the Hartford 15 in the 1980s. Federal cops were complicit in the 1978 police executions of two young independentistas at Cerro Maravilla. In recent years it was revealed that the FBI put tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans on its “subversive” lists. Just last year the FBI raided the headquarters of the water workers union in San Juan in the midst of a hard-fought strike.

    This brutal history underscores that, despite being labeled a “commonwealth,” Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony. The bulk of that nation’s wealth goes into the coffers of the U.S. billionaire families. The fundamental decisions facing the Puerto Rican people are made not in San Juan but in Washington.

    A successful struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence is in the interests not only of the people of that nation but of the vast majority of the U.S. population. Working people in the United States and the Puerto Rican people have common interests and a common enemy—the wealthy U.S. ruling class, its government, and its twin parties, the Democrats and Republicans.

    As long as Puerto Rico is under the U.S. colonial boot, the fighting capacity and solidarity of the working-class movement in the United States will be undermined. FBI victimization of independentistas, if not opposed, will embolden attacks by the political police against workers and farmers in the United States.

    The police assassination of Filiberto Ojeda was designed to intimidate all those fighting for Puerto Rico’s sovereignty. The result was the opposite, however. The widespread popular outrage and the protests that unfolded are a reminder that the U.S. rulers always underestimate the capacity of the Puerto Rican people to resist and stand up to Washington….
    We urge unionists, farmers, students, and all democratic-minded people to join protests to demand prosecution of those responsible for the death of Ojeda.

    Free all Puerto Rican political prisoners!

    Independence for Puerto Rico!

  • isa

    SI NO VIVES EN PUERTO RICO NO OPINEN, VENGAN Y VERAN…

    HE GET WHAT HE DESERVED: DEATH.

  • JAVIER

    ES MEJOR NO VIVIR EN PUERTO RICO PARA ENTENDER MEJOR EL COMO LA MAYORIA ESTAN PRO/AMO A LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS SI NO FUERAS TAN LAMBEOJO ENTENDERIAS MEJOR EL PORQUE SU ASESINATO FUE UNA INJUSTICIA IDENTIFICATE CON TU NACION Y NO CON UNA NACION EXTRANJERA SI VIVES EN PUERTO RICO LO MAS SEGURO ERES POPULAR SE TE NOTA EN TU IGNORANCIA

  • JAVIER

    MOST PUERTO RICANS IN PUERTO RICO FEEL MORE AMERICANS THAN PUERTO RICANS WHICH IS WHY MOST DONT CARE ABOUT OJEDA RIOS I KNOW I LIVE IN PUERTO RICO CAGUAS TO BE EXACT MOST PUERTO RICANS DONT HAVE FAITH IN OUR NATION WHICH IS WHY I THINK PUERTO RICANS WILL NEVER VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE WE WILL GET IT BUT NOT BECAUSE WE WANT IT BUT BECAUSE THE US WILL NOT NEED US ANYMORE I BELEIVE YOUR PARTY REPRESENTS YOUR SELF/ESTEEM WHICH IS WHY ONLY 5% IS INDEPENDENT
    AND THE RESTS ARE IN MOST PART WORRY ABOUT COUPONS AND FOOD STAMPS ANDDONT IDENTIFY AS A NATION AND WORK TOGETHER ITS LIKE WHEN THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY HAPPENED THOUSANDS OF SLAVES ESPECIALLY THE HOUSE SLAVES DID NOT WANT THEIR INDEPENDENCE BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARE THEY DID NOT WANT RESPONSABILITY SAME THING WITH PUERTO RICO

  • http://withduerespect.blogspot.com/ JCB

    Javier: The article as you can see, is an opinion with which you don’t have to agree. Same goes to the opinions of the commenters of said article. Nonetheless, I should point out for you, that my personal opinion blog is called With All Due Respect. I was born, raised and and still live in Puerto Rico and I am very proud of that. In Puerto Rico we are brought up to be respectfull and courteous. Please refrain from personal insults or you will be banned from po sting in this site. Please review BC’s comment policy.

    Besides, when you insult someone whatever it is that you are trying to argue, has then no credibility.

  • http://edwinvazquez.blogspot.com Edwin Vázquez

    Liked the article. Well written. Agree with most of it. Thank you.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Javier, there’s no reason to think that the US has ever needed Puerto Rico. We only continue to protect and guide the territory for the good of its people. We don’t make any money off of it – quite the opposite.

    As for Ojeda, he was a murderous terrorist. I think supporting him says everything that needs to be said about Les Slater and the SWP – who also support Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world.

    Dave

  • http://withduerespect.blogspot.com/ JCB

    Dave: Just to clarify some facts. Maybe now the US doesn’t make as much money as it did before from Puerto Rico. This topic has been debated on both sides of the argument. Search amazon.com for books on the subject.

    Ths US doesn’t ‘protect and guide the territory for the good of the people’. It does it because it has to. We are a territory of the USA, so it’s their obligation to treat us a such. For more on the history of the Puerto Rico – US relationship, I recommend this previous post. It also features a book soley on the analysis of the economic relationship between PR and the USA.

  • Les Slater

    Dave: As for Ojeda, he was a murderous terrorist. I think supporting him says everything that needs to be said about Les Slater and the SWP – who also support Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world.

    Just show how little he knows.