Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Puerto Rican Independence Activist Shot by FBI



Longtime Puerto Rican nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios has been killed by the FBI. The shooting occurred Friday after FBI agents surrounded a house where he was staying. According to an autopsy, Rios bled to death after being hit with a single bullet. Officials didn’t enter his home until Saturday, many hours after he was shot.

The FBI claimed the 72-year-old Ojeda Rios fired first but independence activists accused the FBI of assassinating him. For the past four decades Ojeda Rios had been a leading figure in the fight for Puerto Rican independence and against U.S. colonial rule.

The US seized Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Puerto Ricans are US citizens but cannot vote in US presidential elections and do not pay US income tax.

The FBI considered Ojeda Rios a wanted fugitive because of his ties to a $7 million bank robbery in 1983 in Connecticut, which funded his political operations. He had been living underground for 15 years in rural Puerto Rico, living as a rose gardener.

On Friday night, as word or the murder spread, 500 supporters of independence protested the shooting by blocking one of the main roads in San Juan.

Read a transcript between Democracy Now and Juan-Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua, Puerto Rican political analyst and radio host. Or the BBC's take.

7 Comments:

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10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, a fugitive from a bank robbery using the funds in a political manner to further an agenda. Considered to be an "activist". Why? Because he used the money he "stole" to further a cause? Where I come from he is a theif and a self serving theif at that. Just because he used the stolen money to do, what in his mind, is forwarding a political position, does not make him anything but a fugitive theif. Was he hiding underground as you state because his views were not in line with the government or was he hiding because he was sought as a suspect in a crime.
While I do not profess to know his political views and can not say whether I would side with those views, I do find it disturbing that someone could consider this man anything but a fugitve and a theif. One could see that possibly the few that also benefited from this mans theft either directly or inderectly by agreeing with and championing his view would consider him a leader of a movement, but those few and the narrow view they would have still does not change the fact of what this man really was, or what and how he acheived this status in the eyes of a few with the same agenda. This sounds very familar to those who believed Yassir Arafat was a leader and should have been acknowledged as one. Arafat stole from others and his own people while perpetuating terrorism as a means to an end and some, Including the U.N. still saw him as a leader. Just something to think about when you put this propaganda on the web in an attempt to persuade others in your attempt to discredit this country. You are free to move south anytiime, should you choose. You are also free to spew propaganda from your perch in Los Angeles, but I am also free to show it for what it truly is. Isn't this country great? Estevan of AZ.

3:44 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

I did not invent the term "activist" to call Mr. Rios. The papers are calling him a "Nationalist" or "political figure." I happen to think activist best describes him. But to debase his lifelong struggle for justice on the occassion of his death, in order to call him a common criminal does not serve accruacy or his legacy to Puerto Ricans.

But the point is not whether he'd committed a crime in 1983, it is the apparent intentional assassination of him. The FBI can argue that they were shot at first, but the real crime is in physically blocking doctors, thereby letting him bleed to death. This would not happen to any (white) US citizen on proper US territory. This will only increase the already growing pro-Independence sentiment in Puerto Rico, something that yes, I do wholeheartedly favor.

4:34 PM  
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4:43 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

"The FBI considered Ojeda Rios a wanted fugitive because of his ties to a $7 million bank robbery "

I'm curious, despite the bungled capture that led to his death and, if true, letting a man bleed to death (which is abhorent), would you have "considered Ojeda Rios a wanted fugitive"? In other words, before the incident, would you consider capturing and punishing this man the correct decision? ...or do you favor bankrobbing as long as it supports revolution?

12:01 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

Also, for students reading this blog, it's important to know what the author left out of this post when he writes:"The US seized Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Puerto Ricans are US citizens but cannot vote in US presidential elections and do not pay US income tax." True, but time after time a clear majority of puertoricans have expressed their desire to remain part of the United States. In fact "In early March 1998 the United States House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill which, if passed by the Senate and the President, would allow the citizens of Puerto Rico to vote to become the fifty-first state, to become an independent country, or to remain a commonwealth."
...
"In 1967, 1981, and 1993 the citizens of the island voted whether Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth , become a state, or become and independent country. None of these referendums were binding and were for opinion purposes. In all three votes, Puerto Ricans voted to maintain the status quo. Most recently, in 1993, 48.6 percent of the populace voted to remain a commonwealth, 46.3 percent voted for statehood, and 4.4 percent favored independence"
(http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa031698.htm)

--s

12:06 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Of course someone who robs a bank is a fugitive from justice and should be captured and tried for that crime like any other. There is a part of me who believes that robbing a bank to further a just cause is morally defensible in certain situations. Remember that a billion people on this planet consider banking usary and thereby immoral. Others look at the millions made every day on the backs of the workers or the gambling with currencies that has left millions in poverty in recent years. Stealing is a crime, but I believe the definition should be expanded to include more white collar criminals.

1:20 PM  

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