[Ppnews] Avelino Gonzalez Claudio - Puerto Rico independence leader returns home

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 7 11:15:37 EST 2012

  Puerto Rico independence leader returns home

By By Danica Coto on December 07, 2012

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) --- The former leader of a militant group 
that has long fought for Puerto Rico's independence from the U.S. was 
greeted by dozens of supporters Thursday as he arrived home to finish 
serving a prison sentence.

Avelino Gonzalez Claudio eluded the FBI for more than two decades before 
he was arrested in Puerto Rico in 2008 for involvement in a $7 million 
robbery of a Wells Fargo & Co. armored truck depot in Connecticut in 
1983. At the time, It was the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history.

Gonzalez was sentenced in 2010 to seven years in prison, and spent most 
of the past two years at a federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky. Prison 
spokesman Brian Sparks said in a phone interview that Gonzalez was 
cleared for placement in a residential re-entry center in Puerto Rico to 
help integrate him back into society.

Gonzalez will be freed Feb. 5, Sparks said.

As Gonzalez emerged from the main international airport in San Juan, 
supporters applauded and shouted, "Homeland or Death!" and "Free Puerto 
Rico!" while furiously waving the island's red, white and blue flag.

Despite the raucous welcome, the independence movement has dwindled in 
recent years, with mostly college students and aging activists embracing 
a cause that once dominated the Caribbean island's political scene. *[sic]*

Gonzalez, who is nearly 70, hugged a few supporters but did not speak to 
anyone as ordered by authorities. Family members took him to the 
re-entry center in the San Juan area.

Hilton Fernandez Diamante, a close friend and fellow independence 
activist, said in a phone interview that Gonzalez has Parkinson's and 
will receive medical treatment in hopes of improving his condition.

"He's very deteriorated physically, but his mind is very sharp, always 
thinking about his ideals and the fact that Puerto Rico will someday 
obtain its political freedom," said Fernandez, who also served five 
years in the Wells Fargo case.

He acknowledged that what used to be Puerto Rico's main independence 
party has splintered into embittered factions, with independence 
candidates struggling to get onto the ballot.

"Struggles have their time and their place," Fernandez said. "Neither 
the intention, nor the intensity, nor the desire of those who fight for 
freedom has really changed. Circumstances are what change."

In a Puerto Rico referendum last month, a majority of voters said they 
were not content with the island's status as a U.S. territory. But only 
a small percentage of votes cast on a second question backed 
independence, while a majority supported seeking U.S. statehood. In a 
complication for determining sentiment on what Puerto Ricans want for 
the island, nearly a half million voters left the second question blank. 

Fernandez said the independence group that he and Gonzalez belong to, 
Los Macheteros, will keep fighting for independence, saying they don't 
fear statehood. "We don't believe the United States will accept Puerto 
Rico," he said.

U.S. authorities consider Los Macheteros a terrorist group. It has 
claimed responsibility for murders, bombings and robberies during the 
1970s and '80s, including killing two U.S. sailors in an attack on a 
Navy bus in Puerto Rico in 1979.

Two of Gonzalez's brothers also were arrested in the Wells Fargo heist. 
Only one fugitive remains: Victor Gerena, who is one of the FBI's 10 
most wanted fugitives and is believed to be living in Cuba.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20121207/024985c0/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list