Puerto Rico: FBI arrests Machetero

Agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Puerto Rican nationalist Antonio Camacho Negron on March 28 on a street in Rio Piedras, near San Juan, after he had addressed the opening of the First National Congress for Decolonization at the University of Puerto Rico. Camacho is a former leader of the rebel Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Macheteros [“cane cutters”]; he served 15 years in a US prison for transporting money stolen in 1983 when the group robbed $7.2 million from a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut. US authorities released Camacho on parole on Aug. 17, 2004, but he refused to accept the parole’s terms. The US issued a warrant for his arrest on Aug. 20, 2004, after he missed his first appointment with a parole officer.

Federal authorities couldn’t explain why they had waited nearly two years to arrest Camacho, despite his participation in picket lines outside the FBI’s offices in the San Juan Federal Building. [FBI agents had indicated they might arrest Camacho in October 2005, after he spoke out forcefully against the FBI’s killing of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios on Sept. 23.] Camacho, who is 65, is being held in solitary in the federal prison in Guaynabo; his lawyers say he is in a cold, wet cell and isn’t receiving medicine for a gastro-intestinal condition. A few friends and supporters held a demonstration outside the prison in the rain on Apr. 1. (El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico, April 2; El Diario-La Prensa, NY, March 30, 31)

On March 29, the day after Camacho’s arrest, three police agents, a lawyer and a journalist were slightly injured during a demonstration at the legislature building. Hundreds of activists were protesting a ceremony legislators were holding to honor Cuban-born rightwing business owner Julio Labatut, who has been accused of involvement in the 1979 murder of independence activist Carlos Muniz Varela. “Forgetting is forbidden. An end to impunity,” shouted Muniz Varela’s son, Carlos Muniz Perez; Muniz Varela’s daughter, Yamaira Muniz Perez, also participated in the protest, which included Socialist Front activists. A scuffle started when protester Alberto de Jesus (“Tito Kayak”) tried to pull down a US flag. About 20 protesters also pushed into the building and allegedly broke windows. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, March 29; ED-LP, March 30, 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 2

See our last post on Puerto Rico.