[News] Jorge Farinacci; Los Macheteros Leader Passes
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 29 08:48:14 EDT 2006
Jorge Farinacci; Los Macheteros Leader
By EDMUND H. MAHONY
Courant Staff Writer
August 29 2006
Jorge A. Farinacci-Garcia, a Puerto Rican labor lawyer and one of the
radical independence advocates convicted of robbing $7.1 million from
a Wells Fargo armored car depot in West Hartford in 1983, has died in
San Juan following a yearlong struggle with cancer.
Farinacci, who died Saturday at age 56, was a highly visible figure
in Puerto Rico's powerful union movement and was known for his
leftist political views. He was the leader of the Socialist Front of
Puerto Rico and a longtime supporter of Cuban President Fidel Castro
and Cuba's communist revolution.
"His political trajectory was marked by the commitment to the working
class and the fight without quarter against imperialism," La Bandera
Roja, the official newspaper of the Socialist Front, editorialized this week.
Mainstream independence supporters also recognized Farinacci's contributions.
"Jorge Farinacci was an untiring fighter for the freedom of our
people and for the rights of the workers," said Juan Dalmau Ramirez,
secretary-general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. "Always he
maintained as a political priority the advance of independence over
any other consideration."
Although Farinacci had tempered his revolutionary persona in recent
years, in the early 1980s, he ran the political arm of the violent
and clandestine Puerto Rican pro-independence group Los Macheteros,
which translates as the machete wielders or cane cutters. Among other
things, in the late 1970s and '80s, the group claimed responsibility
for blowing up 11 military jets at a Puerto Rican air base, ambushing
and shooting to death two U.S. Navy sailors and firing an anti-tank
rocket at the federal building in San Juan's commercial district.
But the group's best-known operation was the West Hartford robbery,
in which the Macheteros recruited a young Wells Fargo guard from
Hartford named Victor Manuel Gerena. Gerena drugged two co-workers
and escaped with more than $7 million in cash, which the Macheteros
smuggled to Cuban diplomats in Mexico City. About $80,000 was
recovered. FBI sources believe that most of the money ended up in Havana.
Farinacci admitted being a leader of Los Macheteros and a member of
the organization's central committee, which approved the robbery. But
he denied any role in planning the theft, authorizing it or spending
any of the money.
Federal prosecutors believed otherwise, and in 1985, Farinacci was
arrested with 17 other Macheteros. He ultimately pleaded guilty to
conspiracy and illegal transportation of stolen money and was
sentenced to 42 months in prison in 1992.
Farinacci's death follows by 11 months the death of Filiberto Ojeda
Rios, a Cuban-trained agent who founded Los Macheteros and planned
the Wells Fargo robbery. Ojeda, who was a fugitive from the robbery
charges, died in a shootout with FBI agents in western Puerto Rico.
Contact Edmund H. Mahony at emahony at courant.com.
Copyright 2006, <http://www.courant.com>Hartford Courant
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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