FBI terror attack in Puerto Rico
Snipers gun down independence hero, provoking anti-colonial outcry
Published Sep 27, 2005 10:56 PM
On Sept. 23, as
hundreds of workers and their families were participating in the annual
pro-independence commemoration known as “El Grito de Lares,” agents
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation descended on the town of Hormigueros in
western Puerto Rico and fired the shots that killed Puerto Rican liberation hero
Filiberto Ojeda Ríos.
Filiberto Ojeda Ríos
El Grito de Lares—The Cry of
Lares—marks the historic 1868 uprising carried out by peasants and workers
against Spanish colonial rule. This rebellion is considered the birth of the
Puerto Rican nation.
FBI agents armed with helicopters, military vehicles
and machine guns, and sharpshooters carrying sniper rifles—aided by the
Police of Puerto Rico, who closed off regional roads and streets leading to the
rural municipality of Hormigueros—all surrounded the home of 72-year-old
Filiberto Ojeda Ríos and Elma Beatriz Rosado, his wife.
the leader of the Ejercito Popular Boricua—
Los Macheteros (Popular
Army of the People—The Cane Cutters).
At 4:30 p.m., in a
military-type assault, the FBI crashed through the property’s entrance
fence, firing over 100 rounds, which struck the front of the farmhouse. Ojeda
defended Rosado and himself, leaving one FBI agent wounded.
speaks to media
Elma Beatriz Rosado
Elma Beatriz Rosado addressed the media on Sept. 26.
As she did, the body of her husband was being viewed by thousands of supporters
gathered at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Literary Society) and
later at the Colegio de Abogados (College of Attorneys) in San
“My husband Filiberto, fearing for my life, urged me to
leave,” Rosado said. “He yelled out to the agents, ‘Someone is
coming out, someone is coming out.’ We kissed and hugged. ... When I
finally came out of the house ... they attempted to force me to kneel. When I
refused, they threw me to the ground, pinning me with their knees, forcing my
hands behind my back and handcuffing me.
“After an extended period,
they blindfolded my eyes, and it was then, at that moment that I felt in my
heart and knew that they were going to execute him. ... When I was finally taken
away, Filiberto was alive ... . He told the FBI he was willing to turn himself
over to reporter Jesus Dávila. ... The FBI lies. They murdered
“It was not until the next day, in the afternoon, when I was
released from jail, that I became aware that Filiberto had been despicably
assassinated. ... Nevertheless, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, in my heart and in
the hearts of the Puerto Rican people, is now more alive than
Doctors denied access to Ojeda
On the evening of
Sept. 23, as news of the FBI assassination began to spread, lawyers, family
members, doctors, pro-independence activists and representatives of the news
media tried to reach the home of Ojeda and Rosado, but were repulsed by the
police and the FBI. Several doctors at the scene near the home, hearing that
Ojeda had been shot, offered their assistance. The FBI refused them access.
From every part of Puerto Rico,
workers and their families have
come to view the body and honor
the slain hero.
At one of the roads leading to the house, crowds formed, pointing to the
FBI agents while chanting, “These are the assassins.”
next two days almost every sector of Puerto Rican society—from San
Juan’s Catholic Archbishop, Roberto González Nieves, to Ricardo
Santos, head of the Electrical Workers Union, from ex-Gov. Rafael
Henández Colón to Rubén Berríos, president of the
Puerto Rican Independence Party—to one degree or another publicly
criticized or condemned the FBI for killing Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. All the
people mentioned here personally viewed the body and expressed their condolences
Even Tomás Rivera Shatz, titular head of the
pro-statehood New Progressive Party, publicly questioned the FBI’s
judgment and actions, apparently for politically opportunistic reasons.
Sept. 24, some 29 hours after they had invaded the home of Ojeda and Rosado, the
FBI finally announced that they had killed him. His body was transferred to the
Forensic Unit of the Puerto Rico Police Department.
There, hundreds of
people gathered in the streets.
Protests at Federal Court
That evening in San Juan, a crowd gathered at the Hirám
Bithorn Stadium, soon growing to 1,000 strong.
They marched to the Federal
Court house, chanting: “FBI—facistas, verda deros terroristas”
(FBI—fascists, the real terrorists) and, “Filiberto camarada, tu
muerte será vengada” (Comrade Filiberto, your death will be
Under mounting public pressure, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilá
ordered that Dr. Héctor Pesquera of the Movimiento Inde pendentista
Nacional Hostosiano (Hostos National Independence Move ment) be allowed to
witness the official autopsy.
Dr. Pesquera announced his findings to the
media: “Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was shot once near the right
collarbone. The bullet traversed in a downward direction, exiting through his
back. He did not die because of any organ failure due to the shooting. He died
because he was allowed to bleed to death.
“The reason why the FBI
did not permit doctors onto the scene at his home is because they wanted
Filiberto dead. In my opinion Filiberto was shot by an FBI sharpshooter and
allowed to bleed to death—this was an assassination by the
Dr. Pesquera was one of the doctors who had tried
unsuccessfully on the evening of Sept. 23 to assist Ojeda upon hearing that he
had been shot by the FBI.
On Sept. 26, nearly 1,000 students at the
University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, led by the Federación
Universitaria Pro Independencia (the Pro Independence University Federation),
took over the Main Tower of the campus and removed the U.S. flag, replacing it
with a huge banner bearing the face of Ojeda. The banner read, “Filiberto,
sigues en el corazón del pueblo” (Filiberto, you continue living in
the hearts of the people).
The students then proceeded to trash a local
Burger King as a symbol of U.S. corporate domination on the island. They marched
to the Federal Courthouse where they burned the U.S. flag as federal police
armed with automatic weapons looked on.
For several days every newspaper, television and radio
station, especially the talk programs, have been covering the killing. Even the
Puerto Rican Legislature, which is dominated by the pro-statehood New
Progressive Party, passed a resolution sponsored by the Puerto Rican Indepen
dence Party calling for an investigation of the FBI operation.
On Sept. 26
and 27, delegations from every political persuasion that support
independence—including the National ist Party of Puerto Rico, the Puerto
Rican Independence Party, the Hostos Nation al Independence Move ment and the
Socialist Front—served as honor guards at the wake and funeral. Among them
were the legendary Lolita Lebrón and all the other political prisoners
released from U.S. jails who had been members of the Armed Forces of National
Liberation and Los Macheteros.
From every part of Puerto Rico, workers and
their families have traveled to San Juan to view the body and honor the slain
hero. Crowds and waiting lines at the College of Attorneys were so large that
viewing hours had to be extended. Many famous cultural figures such as singers
Danny Rivera, Roy Brown and many others were present.
The annual conference of the Socialist Front,
which was held on Sept. 25, was dedicated to Ojeda.
spokesperson for the Front, characterized Filiberto Ojeda Ríos’
historical contribution in this manner: “I worked with Filiberto. In the
1960s Filiberto represented the Pro Inde pen dence Move ment’s
(MPI’s) mission to Cuba. Filiberto lived in Cuba and was profoundly
influenced by this socialist revolution.
“Filiberto was not just a
nationalist leader, he was class-conscious and sympathized with the struggle of
the workers for social justice and with socialism. He was also greatly
influenced by anti-imperialist struggles of the period, especially the struggle
of the Vietnamese people for their liberation.
“In the late 1960s
Filiberto founded the Movimiento Independentista Revolu cionario Armado (Armed
Revolutionary Independence Movement). In 1976, Filiberto was a founding member
of the Puerto Rican Workers Party (PRTP), which in turn organized Los Macheteros
“Though he was humble and serene, he was very strong-willed
and valiant, and very well-prepared regarding all aspects of the armed struggle.
He was our teacher. The FBI accuses Filiberto of planning the guerrilla sapper
attack which took place in 1981 at the Muñiz Naval Base, which destroyed
11 military aircraft worth $45 million.
“Filiberto was an
intransigent fighter for the oppressed who, like Don Pedro Albizu Campos before
him, never recognized the authority of the U.S. in Puerto Rico. In 1990, facing
charges related to the Wells Fargo robbery in Connecticut, he cut off his
electronic brace and went underground.
“I can categorically state
that the national outcry caused by his assassination is a reflection of the
broad support of the masses of Puerto Rican people for the heroic actions of the
On the morning of Sept. 26, the news media reported
that the U.S. flag that usually flies over the Capitol in San Juan had been
replaced by the green flag of Los Macheteros.
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