[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
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews