War of Terror arrives in Puerto Rico
The nationalist leader was struck by a single bullet from a sharpshooter's high-powered rifle. While he suffered no wound to any vital organ, he was left to bleed to death on the floor of his home as FBI agents refused to allow Puerto Rican authorities and emergency medical teams anywhere near the house, maintaining a militarized perimeter for 24 hours.
When word came late Friday afternoon that FBI agents had surrounded the house in Puerto Rico where Filiberto Ojeda Rios was hiding out, most people expected the worst. On Saturday, the FBI confirmed that Ojeda had been killed in a shootout with agents.
The death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios highlights once again Puerto Rico's delicate and vague political relationship to the U.S., and an independence movement that is dwindling but undying. Even those people who don't believe the island should be an independent nation respect the leaders and the history of the independence movement, and are disturbed by the events surrounding Ojeda's death.
We acknowledge that Ojeda was a fugitive. The leader of the Macheteros, he was wanted for his role in the robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Conn., in 1983.
Yet, the FBI moved in on Ojeda on a day of great significance in Puerto Rico, the 147th anniversary of El Grito de Lares, a cry for independence. And given that Ojeda was in his 70s, surely there was a way to capture him without killing him. Then, FBI officials waited almost a day before confirming his death. Protesters on the island said the FBI mishandled the arrest. Here in New York, a rally is planned today at 5 p.m. at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan.
Puerto Ricans have a history of more than 100 years in New York City, and still make up 37 percent of the Hispanic population here. Yet Ojeda’s death went almost unnoticed by the mainstream media on Sunday, garnering only AP stories buried in The New York Times and the Daily News.
Ojeda's life and death are an important part of the story of Puerto Rico, the people's struggle to preserve their dignity and history, and a U.S. government that says it is fighting for democracy abroad but still maintains a colonial relationship with this island of 3.8 million U.S. citizens. Link
Also: FBI murders Puerto Rican independence figure