[Ppnews] Jorge Farinacci; Los Macheteros Leader Passes

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 29 08:48:14 EDT 2006


Jorge Farinacci; Los Macheteros Leader

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

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