[News] Legendary Puerto Rican national liberation fighter

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 28 19:40:04 EDT 2005

Legendary Puerto Rican national liberation fighter

Filiberto Ojeda Ríos assassinated by FBI

By Tom Soto
San Juan, Puerto Rico
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 Investigations descended on the town of 
Hormigueros in western Puerto Rico and fired the shots that killed Puerto 
Rican liberation hero 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 rifles­aided by the Police of Puerto Rico, 
who closed off regional roads and streets leading to the rural municipality 
of Hormigueros­all surrounded the home of 72-year-old Filiberto Ojeda Ríos 
and Elma Beatriz Rosado, his wife.

Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was the leader of the Ejercito Popular Boricua – Los 
Macheteros (The 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. Filiberto Ojeda defended Rosado and himself, leaving one 
FBI agent wounded.

Elma Beatriz Rosado addressed the press 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 Juan.

"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 him.

"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 ever."

Doctors denied access to Filiberto

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."

For the next two days almost every sector of Puerto Rican society­from 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 Party­to 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 to Elma Beatriz Rosado.

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.

On Sept. 24, some 29 hours after they invaded the home of Filiberto Ojeda 
Ríos and Elma Beatriz 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 House

That evening in San Juan, a crowd gathered at the Hirám Bithorn Stadium, 
soon growing to 1,000 strong.

They marched to the Federal Courthouse, chanting: "FBI – facistas, 
verdaderos terroristas" (FBI – fascists, they are the real terrorists) and, 
"Filiberto camarada, tu muerte será vengada" (Comrade Filiberto, your death 
will be avenged)."

Under mounting public pressure, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilá ordered that Dr. 
Héctor Pesquera of the Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano 
(Hostoss National Independence Movement) be allowed to witness the official 

Dr. Pesquera announced his findings to press: "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 FBI."

Dr. Pesquera was one of the doctors who had tried unsuccessfully on the 
evening of Sept. 23 to assist Ojeda Ríos 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 Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. 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 then marched to the Federal 
Courthouse. There they burned the U.S. flag as federal police armed with 
automatic weapons looked on.

Broad media coverage

For several days every newspaper, TV and radio station, especially the talk 
programs, have been covering the killing of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. Even the 
Puerto Rican Legislature, which is dominated by the pro-statehood New 
Progressive Party, passed a resolution sponsored by the Puerto Rican 
Independence Party calling for an investigation of the FBI operation.

On Sept. 26 and 27, delegations from every political persuasion that 
support independence­the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican 
Independence Party, the Hostos National Independence Movement, the 
Socialist Front, etc.­served as honor guards at the wake and funeral. Among 
them were the legendary Lolita Lebrón and all the 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.

Ojeda´s historical contribution

The annual conference of the Socialist Front, which was held on Sept. 25, 
was dedicated to Filiberto Ojeda Ríos.

Jorge Farinacci, spokesperson for the Front, characterized Filiberto Ojeda 
Ríos' historical contribution in this manner: "I worked with Filiberto. In 
the 1960s Filiberto represented the Pro Independence Movement´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 

"In the late 1960s Filiberto founded the Movimiento Independentista 
Revolucionario 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 in 1978.

"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 Macheteros."

On the morning of Sept. 26, the news media reported that the U.S. flag that 
flies over the Capitol in San Juan had been replaced by the green flag of 
Los Macheteros.

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