Rico has been a colony for
500 years, first of Spain and then of the
United States. In 1898, at the conclusion of what is called the Spanish-
War, Spain was forced to cede the island
nation to the United States pursuant to a treaty between Spain, France
and the United
States. No one conferred with the people of
Puerto Rico, in violation of a Charter of Autonomy signed by Spain and
Rico which provided that the island's status
could not be altered without consulting the Puerto Rican people. The
declared martial law, installed a U.S.
governor, and began a pro- gram to alter and destroy the fiber of Puerto
the years, the U.S. destroyed Puerto Rico's
agrarian economy; devalued its money; imposed citizenship on its people
drafting its men into the U.S. army to fight
the U.S.' wars; imposed the teaching of the English language and U.S.
on its students; polluted its air, land, and
water; sterilized its women; and installed 21 U.S. military bases on some of the best land.
Rico's colonial reality cannot
be overlooked. George Bush admitted during
his presidency that Puerto Rico's people had never been consulted on
Even Pedro Rosello, the colonial governor,
called attention to Puerto Rico's colonial status in testimony before
Nations in 1993. As with any people of one
nation dominated by another, there have always been Puerto Ricans who
the U.S. government's control of their
nation's sovereignty. Their resistance, whether the mere advocacy of
the taking up arms against the colonizer, has
been censored and criminalized, punished throughout the years by
surveillance, imprisonment, and even summary
execution. The examples are numerous. Some recent examples include: in
pro-independence youth were assassinated at
Cerro Maravilla by the police after an under cover agent set up a trap
Puerto Rican government participated in the
cover up that ensued; in 1987 it was discovered that the Puerto Rican
collaboration with the FBI had maintained a
list of so called "subversives" along with over 135,000 files on Puerto
citizens for strictly political reasons in
clear violation of the Puerto Rican Constitution; in September, 1994 an
of the intelligence division of the Puerto
Rican Police was arrested and accused (along with other members of his
of kidnapping, torturing, and assassinating
in 1977 the labor leader, Juan Rafael Caballero.
International law denounces colonialism as a crime and recognizes a colonized people's right to end colonialism by any means at their disposal. The United Nations recognizes that these laws apply to the case of Puerto Rico. For many years now, the United Nations' De-colonization Committee has approved resolutions recognizing the inalienable right of Puerto Rico's people to independence and self-determination.
actions of the Puerto Rican political
prisoners are comparable to those of George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Washington and Jefferson denounced the
of British control over their colonies. They
fought for the principle of democracy, and gained independence.
US government recognized that Nelson
Mandela's imprisonment by the South African apartheid government was
was jailed for 27 years on charges of
attempting to overthrow the apartheid government through violent means.
Jefferson and Mandela before them, the Puerto
Rican political prisoners are conscientious activists for freedom and
The Puerto Rican National Liberation Struggle
The colonial reality of Puerto Rico has created a National Liberation struggle that has produced many independence Freedom Fighters and many pro-independence organizations; that have been actively educating, organizing, and mobilizing the Puerto Rican community against U.S. colonialism. The nature of anti-colonial struggles often gives birth to clandestine revolutionary organizations, which engage in armed struggle against the colonial powers.
The Puerto Rican Political Prisoners were apart of two of these clandestine organizations;Las Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) and Los Macheteros. Their arrests and subsequent imprisonment correspond to a planned effort by the FBI to destroy their organizations and repress their activities.
In 1978, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) --a clandestine pro-independence group operating in the US-- was designated by the FBI as one of the most significant threats to the security of the United States. Between 1980 and 1983, 14 alleged members of the FALN were arrested, accused of seditious conspiracy, and sentenced to prison terms between 50 and 90 years.
August, 1985, the FBI arrested 13 people
accused of being members of the clandestine
group Los Macheteros (machete wielders) in Puerto Rico. On September
Macheteros claimed responsibility for the
expropriation of $7 millions from a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut.
arrests of August 1985, around 300 agents
were used to search the houses and offices of dozens of pro-independence
and sympathizers. The agents made a massive
display of weapons; dozens of houses were submitted to electronic
for months in violation of the US
Constitution and Puerto Rico's laws; tens of thousands of calls were
taped; those arrested
were taken out of Puerto Rico and brought to
trials in the mainland. The accused were kept in preventive detention
than a year, and their most elemental rights
It is important to note that under United Nations Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 of December 1960, it states that colonialism is an international crime and that a colonized people have every right to use whatever means necessary to end their colonial plight (which includes armed struggle). This international resolution makes Puerto Rico’s colonial reality and the imprisonment of the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners an international crime and human rights violations.