Puerto Rican Protest Against Cuban Erupts
A story from the AP, analyzed by a member of the from the LA Solidatiry listserv
Wed Mar 29, 11:48 PM ET
Some 20 demonstrators angered by a ceremony honoring a Cuban defector stormed into Puerto Rico's statehouse Wednesday, breaking tables, windows and a glass case covering the U.S. territory's constitution.
The demonstrators were angered by a tribute lawmakers were paying to Julio Labatut, a Cuban dissident and a renowned florist honored for his charitable works and entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico.
Some alleged Labatut was involved in the unsolved 1979 killing of Carlos Muniz Varela, an activist for Puerto Rico's independence. "We will never forget. Stop the impunity," Muniz's son, Carlos Muniz Perez, 31, told the crowd of several hundred demonstrating in front of the statehouse.
At one point, a protester tried to pull down the U.S. flag in front of the building. Three police officers and one lawyer participating in the tribute were injured, said San Juan police Cmdr. Anibal Marrero. One of the protesters who stormed the statehouse was arrested.
Labatut, who was part of a group of Cuban exiles that encouraged Cuban athletes competing in Puerto Rico in the early 1990s to defect from Cuba, said he was insulted by the protest.
Commentary from listserver Raulmax:
A good example of bias reporting by the US media when it comes to Puerto Rican issues.
First of all, the Capital Building in San Juan is not a statehouse. Puerto Rico is not a state of the US and the mayority of Puerto Ricans do not want it to become one.
Second to characterize Julio Labatud as a " renowned florist" is stretching the point. He has for the past 40 years owned a florist shop in the San Juan Metro area. To say that he does "charitable works" is another stretch. He has given money to Cuban exile charities that deal with the Cuban exile community. Even these charities when asked about his good works were hard pressed to mention them.. This was an excuse given by pro statehood right wing representative Jennifer Gonzalez to justify her honoring activity in his behalf.
Third, Julio Labtud has been linked to not only the murder by cuban exiles of cuban exile Carlos Muniz Varela but to a series of other murders by right wing elements of the cuban exile community here in Puerto Rico. His has been linked to the murder of Santiago Mari Pesquera, the son of pro independence leader Juan Mari Bras. Labatud has been linked together with the " one lawyer participating in the tribute" whose name is Sergio Ramos to the cuban exile organization Abdala. Abdala is responsible for the January 11, 1975 bombing in the Mayaguez central plaza which killed two people and injured 11. Labatud's business FlorArte was the site of Abdala and other cuban exile terrorist organizations meetings during the late 1960s and 1970s. Julio Labatud was known to provide money for these assassinations and for other shooting and bombings aimed at pro independence forces and cuban exiles who were seeking dialogue with Fidel.
Labatud himself in declarations on Puerto Rican TV has admitted to giving money to these cuban exile terrorist organizations. In declarations on a popular interview show he stated that he agreed with the assassination of Carlos Mu/niz Varela.
Labatud like Posada Carriles is being protected by the US government. He and right wing cuban exiles like him have been doing the durty work for the FBI in Puerto Rico for years.