Jorge Farinacci García 1949-2006
Socialist and working class leader is remembered
Published Sep 12, 2006 10:53 PM
García, the principal leader of the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico, died
Aug. 26, after waging a year-long battle against cancer. In the
political movement, we called him Fari.
Jorge Farinacci, left, at anti-war protest in San Juan.
From Saturday evening to Monday
morning, more than 1,000 workers and their families, pro-independence activists
from across the country, trade unionists and sympathizers of the Socialist Front
filled the Ehret funeral home in the suburb of Río Piedras to pay tribute
to Fari’s legacy of struggle in favor of an independent and socialist
People in the United States probably first heard of Jorge
Farinacci when he, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos and 14 others were arrested in
1985. They were accused of being leaders of the Macheteros, a group the federal
government accused of taking $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in Hartford,
Conn., to further the struggle for Puerto Rican independence.
born to a middle-class family in the city of San Germán. His mother was
an educator and his father a business manager. The family moved to the
metropolitan area of San Juan, where Fari grew up.
In 1966, he entered the
University of Puerto Rico (UPR), a public university, and obtained a Political
Science degree. Fari then entered the UPR Law School, graduating in
In that period, the U.S. was conducting a genocidal war against the
people of Vietnam. The UPR was the center of great upheavals—strikes,
occupations, confrontations with the police— directed against the ROTC and
U.S. military conscription. As a result of involvement in these struggles, Fari
He had already joined the Federación Universitaria
Pro Independencia (Pro-Independence University Federation) and was a
collaborator of the Movimiento Pro Independencia/MPI (Pro-Independence
Movement). Fari was part of the revolutionary fervor of the time that led the
MPI to form the Puerto Rican Socialist Party in the 1970s. According to
Fari’s son, Tito, “Fari sympathized with socialism since his earlier
youth, in part due to the influence of his grandfather on his maternal side, who
had been a member of the Socialist Party of earlier years.”
greatly influenced by the struggle of the Vietnamese people against the U.S. and
by the Cuban Revolution. A vigorous reader of Marxist literature, he had a
special respect for Lenin and the other leaders of the October Revolution in
The 1970s saw an awakening of the labor movement and the
pro-independence and socialist movements.
Fari gravitated towards the
building of an armed revolutionary movement to oust the U.S. from Puerto Rico,
and towards establishing a revolutionary working class party. In 1977 he joined
the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Party (Partido Revolucionario de los
Trabajadores Puertorriqueños/PRTP), which the following year launched the
Hilton Fernández Diamante, who then worked with Fari,
explains: “From the beginning we knew that Fari was a leader. He was very
articulate and dynamic. Together with other comrades he founded the theoretical
journal Pensamiento Crítico (Critical Thinking), where issues faced by
the workers of Puerto Rico and throughout the world were analyzed and
The Macheteros had a vision of trying to unite the forces
that wanted national independence while promoting the class interests of the
workers. They also worked to stabilize the finances of the independence
By 1979 the Macheteros were carrying out joint armed actions
with other armed revolutionary groups, such as the Fuerzas Armadas de
Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation), Fuerzas
Armadas de Resistencia Popular (Armed Forces of Popular Resistance) and the
Organización de Voluntarios Por la Revolución
Puertorriqueña (Organization of Volunteers for the Puerto Rican
The Macheteros became an important symbol of the armed
movement to decolonize Puerto Rico from U.S. control. Some actions of the
Macheteros received world attention, such as a guerrilla attack in 1981 at the
Muñiz Naval Base that destroyed 11 military aircraft worth $45
The Muñiz Naval Base action was done while the U.S. was
carrying out savage counter-revolutionary proxy wars against the peoples of
Nicaragua and El Salvador. Not only was the Muñiz Base action viewed as
an act of solidarity with Central America, but it also elevated the Puerto Rican
anti-colonial struggle on a world scale.
Building an armed movement, while
at the same time trying to build a working class party and unite the social
forces in Puerto Rican society who aspired to independence, all done
clandestinely, proved to be a monumental task.
Fari had two
Upon graduating in 1973 as an attorney, his first job was with the
Puerto Rico Department of Labor. According to his son Tito, it “only
lasted a couple of months.” He processed complaints against employers for
violating workers’ rights and arbitrated cases in dispute.
left the Labor Department and began working with pro-labor lawyers in the Bufete
Sindical (Union Law Firm), but most of his work was with Teamsters Local 901. He
negotiated contracts, defended fired employees, and participated in organizing
campaigns, strikes and labor mobilizations.
When the labor movement in
1998 called a general strike to oppose the privatization sale by the PR
government of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co., the Aqueduct Workers Independent
Union and Teamsters Local 901 played a pivotal role in closing down Muños
Marin International Airport in San Juan.
In 1981, Fari was subpoenaed to
testify before a grand jury for a bank robbery that had occurred in 1977. He
refused to testify. Ultimately, the charges against him were dropped.
Even after his arrest in 1985 for the Wells Fargo incident, Fari was an
intransigent fighter. In a plea bargain stipulation on the Wells Fargo case,
Fari forced the court to acknowledge his political motivation. The stipulation
said of him, “You, however, take the position that the United States
government has no authority to criminalize your effort to resist the colonial
subjugation of your country, Puerto Rico, and your right under international law
to work for the freedom and self-determination of your homeland. You believe
that the Court has no jurisdiction over you and that you are not a
Fari admitted to approving the carrying out of the action
in Hartford, but insisted that the stipulation include: “It is
acknowledged by the government ... that the robbery was perpetrated to fund the
goals of the Macheteros.” He spent five years in prison.
released in 1992 but had to serve an additional five years probation and was
barred from practicing law. Nevertheless, Fari returned to work for the
Teamsters and also worked as a labor law instructor at the University of
On his release he joined the Socialist Front, a coalition
of socialist organizations working together for the interests of the working
class, where he spearheaded efforts to develop and stabilize a Cuba Solidarity
Committee that organized yearly solidarity trips to Cuba.
Two years later,
when the pro-independence newspaper Claridad (Clarity) was reorganized to
reflect the entire patriotic movement in Puerto Rico, Fari joined its editorial
In 1997, as his five-year probation was ending, the U.S. government
attempted to send him back to jail on alleged probation violations. It claimed
Fari was consorting with known criminals by attending political demonstrations
that brought him into contact with other Macheteros. Fari successfully fought
this charge in court, defending his right to free speech, assembly and political
Milagros Rivera, chair of the Cuba Solidarity Committee,
commented: “I knew Fari since our days together at the University of
Puerto Rico. He not only worked tirelessly to defend Cuba but was an
anti-imperialist in the internationalist sense. He not only opposed U.S.
interventions throughout Latin America but also supported the struggle of the
Palestinians, the liberation movements in Africa ... of the oppressed
everywhere. Fari was of a new breed.”
During the struggle to oust
the U.S. Navy from the island of Vieques, which involved the independence
movement as a whole, Fari coordinated the efforts of the Socialist Front in
organizing and providing ongoing material assistance to demonstrators. He
thoroughly enjoyed, as did the entire independence movement, when the U.S. Navy
was forced to leave in 2003.
Fari insisted that every arena available
should be utilized to advance the struggle. Representing the Socialist Front, he
testified many times before the UN Decolonization Committee, demanding
self-determination for the Puerto Rican nation and that the U.S. get out. He
represented the front at various Sao Paulo Forums held in Latin America and was
a delegate to the Caribbean and Latin American Gathering in Solidarity with the
Bolivarian Revolution, held in Venezuela in 2004.
to help workers extended into his daily life. He founded the Instituto de
Derecho Laboral (the Institute for Labor Rights), a private practice bringing
together young attorneys oriented to defending workers’ rights. Union and
non-union workers could consult there and gain assistance, from contract
violation issues to discrimination cases, including women’s and gay
rights. Often the institute’s services were provided free of
If a particular union’s leadership became corrupt and
unresponsive to the workers’ interests, Fari would help rank and file
members establish caucuses and develop opposition slates to fight for democratic
Karen Vega, his secretary, said he was “in many places at
the same time. While he was negotiating a labor contract, he was at the same
time settling an arbitration case by phone, and while he was making statements
to the press on the latest political developments, he was organizing an event on
behalf of the oppressed masses.... He lived according to the dictates of his
conscience, unceasingly struggling for social justice. He was a small man who
had a thousand fierce, giant guerilla fighters within him.”
year 2000 Fari married Rosa Meneses. He and his wife got to visit their beloved
Cuba on various occasions. Fari is survived by Rosa, his daughters Maritza and
Natalia, and his son Tito.
A memorial meeting honoring his contributions
to the struggle for social justice, independence and socialism was held on Aug.
28. Speakers from a multitude of movements and unions honored him. Messages were
received from all over Latin America and from Workers World Party in the United
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