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Saturday, September 24, 2005Who was Filiberto Ojeda Ríos?
Those not familiar with Puerto Rican history may be asking right about now who the hell was this guy and who the hell are Los Macheteros? Here's a brief history from Wikipedia
The Boricua Popular Army —or Ejército Popular Boricua in Spanish— is a clandestine organization based on the island of Puerto Rico, with cells throughout the United States. They campaign for and support the independence of Puerto Rico from what they characterize as United States colonial rule.
Although the group has claimed responsibility for numerous armed robberies and bombings since 1978, and is still led by Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, a former FBI Most Wanted Fugitive, they have refocused their resources and networks to political, information and enforcement support for the general independence and nationalist movement.
Also known as Los Macheteros (or 'The Machete Wielders' in English) and 'Puerto Rican Popular Army', their active membership of mostly Puerto Rican men and women have swelled to over 1100 (as of January 2005), with an unknown number of supporters, sympathizers, collaborators and informants, with cells (usually consisting of 6 to 10 members) in the United States and other countries.
The Macheteros claim (and many historians agree) that part of the reason for their formation and actions was to defend Puerto Rico's legal process and political evolution from US Government intervention. Other supporters of the independence movement argue that the Macheteros are just a continuity of the hundred years clandestine war Puerto Ricans have fought against United States policies in the island, such as the Culebra and Vieques bombing range; the disproportionate number of military bases (compared to states in the Union); the population control experiments of the 1960s (where a third of all women in Puerto Rico were sterilized); the FBI and CIA assassinations of independence and nationalist leaders (including the alleged murder of Dr. Pedro Albízu Campos, by means of radiation experiments while he was incarcerated); the infamous Dr. Rhoades cancer "treatments", during which Doctor Cornelius P. Rhoades admitted to killing Puerto Rican patients and injecting cancer cells to many as part of a medical investigation conducted in San Juan's Presbyterian Hospital for the Rockefeller Institute; secret testing of Agent Orange on Puerto Rican soil; and other incidents.
As a 'terrorist' group, Los Macheteros have claimed the least amount of innocent/civilian lives when compared to most paramilitary, terrorist or other organized insurgency groups of its kind, type, size and history (according to U.S. Federal documents). They claim to regard the U.S. working class with as much respect as to their own people (although, technically, they are considered U.S. citizens as well). They claim that their 'war' is with the U.S. Government policies and politicians that continue to exploit the people and resources of Puerto Rico (also known as 'Borinquen,' or 'Boriken, from the original Taino -- native Indians of the Caribbean language), an island with a population comparable to the Republic of Ireland, but just over an eighth its size. Although most Puerto Ricans reject violence as a political means, many believe that the economic and political exploitation and oppression of Puerto Rico continues to fuel the activities of many insurgent groups.
Also, many political groups opposed to U.S. dominion of Puerto Rico agree that the U.S. invasion and occupation during the Spanish-American War in 1898 was illegal and unjustified, just like many other U.S. military operations throughout Latin America in the 20th century. Although there were Spanish troops in the island, Puerto Rico had been granted a form of sovereignty from the Spanish Crown months before the USS Maine incident in Cuba, which the United States used as grounds to declare war against Spain.
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