Puerto Rico: Machetero bled to death

On Sept. 26 Puerto Rican governor Anibal Acevedo Vila told reporters that US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert Mueller had ordered an inquiry into the fatal Sept. 23 shooting of nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios by FBI agents in the western town of Homigueros. The announcement came as questions grew about how and why Ojeda Rios died when FBI agents assaulted the farmhouse where he was living, ostensibly to arrest him for his role in a 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut.

Ojeda, the leader of the rebel Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Macheteros, was convicted for the $7.2 million robbery in 1992 [not in 1990, as we previously reported], but he had jumped bail in 1990 and successfully eluded the authorities until FBI agents staked out his house on Sept. 20 of this year.

“The FBI is lying,” Ojeda’s widow, Elma Beatriz Rosado Barbosa, told a press conference in San Juan on Sept. 26. “They are lying as they have always lied.” Rosado, who was present during the incident, said there were about 100 FBI agents and that they were the first to shoot. “I heard Filiberto shout: ‘I’ll turn myself in to the reporter Jesus Davila,'” Rosada said, referring to the Puerto Rico correspondent of the Spanish-language New York daily El Diario-La Prensa. “[L]ater [the agents] blindfolded me, and in that moment I felt in my heart–I knew–that they were going to murder him.” One FBI agent was reportedly wounded in the incident.

According to a preliminary autopsy, Ojeda received a single gunshot wound in the lung; it came from above, probably from a sharpshooter. The autopsy indicated that the wound was not lethal and that Ojeda bled to death during the 20 hours the FBI refused to allow anyone to enter the house, supposedly while waiting for explosives experts. On Sept. 24 Luis Fraticelli, special FBI agent in charge of Puerto Rico, told reporters he had been in contact with his superiors in Washington “all night” while the agents were barring access to the building. (New York Times, Sept. 27 from AP; El Diaro-La Prensa, NYC, Sept. 25, 26, 27, 29 from correspondent)

The assault occurred on the anniversary of the Grito de Lares [“Cry of Lares”], a Sept. 23, 1868 uprising against Spanish rule in the western town of Lares. Starting on Sept. 11 Ojeda had scored what commentators called a “propaganda coup” by getting at least two San Juan stations–WQBS Radio and Canal 30 de Television–to play a recorded message calling for people to commemorate the date. The stations ran the 10-minute tape every hour for several days. (Resumen Latinoamericano/Diario de Urgencia No. 63, Sept. 18 from El
Diaro-La Prensa, Sept. 16)

In one of the largest funerals in Puerto Rican history, more than 1,000 cars joined the cortege as Ojeda’s body was driven from San Juan to a cemetery in the eastern town of Naguabo on Sept. 27. The burial included the reading of a communique from the new Machetero leader, “Commander Guasabara,” who called for justice for Ojeda and said “the struggle will continue until the accursed Yankees leave our country’s soil.” (ED-LP, Sept. 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 2

See our last post on the Ojeda Rios case.

  1. Cuba pays homage to Ojeda Rios
    From AP, Oct. 6:

    A son of the fugitive Puerto Rican independence activist who was recently killed in a shootout with FBI agents joined President Fidel Castro and other Cuban authorities Thursday in remembering his late father, Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

    “Filiberto lives,” the son, Edgardo Ojeda, told an evening gathering of hundreds of top Cuban officials and young people, saying his father’s death was “an act of terrorism of state” by the U.S. government and that FBI agents had orders to kill rather than arrest him. “They violated his right to life,” he said.

    Flanked to his right by the similar red, white and blue flags of Cuba and Puerto Rico, Ojeda told the enthusiastic audience from a gleaming mahogany lectern that “I appreciate this act of solidarity.”

    Castro, dressed in his typical olive green uniform, sat in the front row of the event at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater. Many other top officials were on hand, including Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s parliament.

    The event featured traditional Puerto Rican music, as well as a brief, surprise performance by South African singer and activist Miriam Makebo, who stopped in Cuba on her global farewell tour.


    After the killing, protests broke out in the streets of the capital of San Juan during which demonstrators burned American flags and scrawled graffiti on two McDonald’s restaurants. Machetero leaders vowed to avenge Ojeda Rios’ death.

    Earlier Thursday, Edgardo Ojeda oversaw a simple a ceremony in which a memorial plaque with his father’s name was unveiled at a monument honoring numerous political leaders and social activists in a seaside government plaza facing the U.S. Interests Section, the American mission here.

    1. OscarVivePresoDiasporaDentroDeEstato!
      Like Filiberto I remember,and in “VietNam I saw soldiers bleeding to death.It was horrific.The victims agonized and went through torture awaiting their death-just like Filiberto.He was shot and was allowed to bleed to death.A real man was killed.A true-anti-colonist and great revolutionary.He didn’t die on his knees or running begging like Noriega.That’s why Puerto Ricans are saying “FilibertoVive”.
      EcoAvila you can be certain that they are others filibertos in Ponce,in San Juan and even in the Diaspara.There are even a Filiberto in eggs and sperms.They will see day light.Their hearts will be filled with love and compassion.Their minds will not be twisted or their hearts hardend with hatred and fear.They will be as brave,courageous and wise as Betances,Albizu,Filiberto.
      They will be as nurturine,as Lolita and Dona Isabel Rosada.They will be proud of their dark skin like Betances taught us to be.They will be multi-ligual and mulit-talented.They will act like citizens of universe.
      In Brooklyn New York I saw Hassidies acting as vigilantes to keep the Haitians,Jamaicans and all dark skin people including the ‘spice’out of their community.Yes,it was brooklyn where a young puerto rican named salvador agron come to live with mother and step-father after he had been sexually molested in Mayaguez,P.R.at the age of five.Salvador Agron the -Capeman-went to Hells Kitchen on the west-side of New york City and killed two young white men.He was seventy years old and carried out a brutal assesination.The governer the mayor the prosecutor and all the whowaswho of New Kork wanted him dead.Kill the GOOKS they yelled and screamed.At age 17 his mind had been twisted and his heart hardened by hatred and fear.Years later in prison it was discovered that salvador agron had a very big I.Q-around the 150 range.Somehow he somehow he was release from prison and died in the bronx on drug related causes.
      In Lincoln Hospital in the bronx I saw a long line of Puerto Ricans.I asked the brother ,who were they?he told me they were there waiting for their methadone.some of the men on that line wre Vietnam Veterans.My friend Carlos”el Flaco”from the bronx was USMC Sgt.with three tours of duty in Vietnam.He ended up on that methodone line in Lincoln Hospital.Drug addition is not a service connect disability but he had never used drugs until he had done more than two tours in Vietnam.He took herion for the first time in vietnam.But his mind had become twisted and his heart hardened with hatred and fear.
      In 1965,Ft.Knox,Ky.,USMiliart Oscar Lopez-rivers was given an M-14 rifle and a .45caliber pistol and taught to kill/the drill instructors order were always to kill.”We woke up in the morning singing songs ofkill,kill.In hand2handcombate training I had to take the M-14 rifle with a baiyonet and thrust it into an effigy that looked like a vietnamese peasant.I was ordered to yell”killtheGook”while a I thrust it into an effiggi did not know what a ‘GOOK’ was,I never had had a weapon in my hands and I had never planned on killing anyone.March 1966,I arrived in the Republic of South Vietman[?]than no other mission then to kill or be killed.In Vietnam I walked through miles and miles of jungle,through hundreds of villages,through rice paddies and flooded rivers there were thousands of young men & many of them were my boriqua[puerto rican]brothers.Throughout a whole year the thing.I remember most was the terrorized faces of the Vietnamese peasants.And when I saw the “gook” they looked just like me-the ‘gooks’.Do you have an idea of what that is?
      My heart is filled with love and compassion.My mind is not twisted.
      Once the Puerto Rican Vietnam Vieteran was Back-Home-Chicago,alone with other soldiers.We went to eat in cafeteria of the University of Wisconsin,Madison-a beautiful campase that looked almost .. and a place reserve mostly for the children of the elite.We were wearing military fatigues and no sooner had we entered that the students started calling us”baby killers”.Hundreds of students shouting and we had to leave.My friend Vinny ,un african-americano and I walk through a gauntlet of young neo-elite students that were calling baby killers.I never had killed anyone-must less babies.Two million vietnamese citizens were killed and over 59,000 USTroops were also killed.Hundreds of thousands of men including my friend Carlos el flaco from Lajas Puerto Rico were mained and mentally damaged for life.I’m still in touch with my friend Carlos.Every year he has to spent time in the V.A.Hospital.The Demons of the EDR are still haunting him.
      I came home and ‘renounceviolence’.Millions of us said”stop the war in Vietnem”and many Puerto Ricans like me [Oscar Lopez-Rivera USMC@USPenitenturydin#87651-024]and some of us said “FreePuertoRico.”We Wanted our homeland to be free and free of violence.No Military bases and no more PuertoRicans Used As CannonFodder.Albizu wanted freedom,and what happen to him?Filiberto wanted freedom&what happen to him?Peace and freedom is what I want.Not violence.
      Take good care…”!

      1. Guillermo de la Paz of the So
        Guillermo de la Paz of the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico said that “In P.R. we feel that the Bolivarian Revolution is also ours.

      2. OscarVive
        Spanish-speaking detectives to infiltrate the FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist group. Some joined the agency, says the official. But, he added, their trail has gone cold. Now, department sources say the NYPD and the CIA have initialed a formal memorandum of understanding.

        But in the super-duper-secret, terrorism-related world, this reporter could find no one in the NYPD, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security or the CIA who could confirm this or explain what this memorandum refers to.

        Theories abound. One holds that the memorandum applies to informants, both overseas or domestic, and is a way of protecting the CIA, which is prohibited by law from spying domestically. Another is that the memorandum delineates information shared with the agency that the NYPD gathers as its Arabic-speaking recruits troll Internet sites, searching out jihadists.

        A third holds that the CIA relationship allows Kelly to bypass the NYPD’s current information-sharing mechanism – the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. Still, others note that relations between Kelly and the bureau have recently improved under Mark Mershon, the new head of the FBI’s New York office.

        The thing all law enforcement officials contacted by Newsday agree on is Kelly’s motivation: control – absolute control.

        Winners. If Mayor Mike Bloomberg is the big winner in this week’s election, Kelly is close behind.

        Already, Bloomberg is again urging that Kelly take over the subway and the Port Authority police in another terrorist attack. Under the city protocol Bloomberg established, Kelly will also run the fire department in such an emergency.

        But the talk now is also of Kelly running for mayor in 2009, and no less than the city’s most eminent ex-Democratic mayor, Ed Koch, says such talk is not premature.

        “He’s extremely able. He’d be a formidable candidate,” Koch said, while adding that he himself is committed to city Comptroller William Thompson.

        “Kelly doesn’t have to be a politician to be a formidable candidate,” Koch says. “He just has to keep doing what he is doing, to keep crime falling and to protect the city as best as he can from terrorism. Nobody can hold him responsible for acts of terror so long as he has done everything he can to prevent it.”

        Another strength, Koch says, is that Kelly “looks like a poster boy for the police commissioner. He has that special look that evokes confidence.”

        Koch says he’s lunched with Kelly several times. “The subject has never come up.”

        The fighting McCarthys (continued). A flier on the 13th floor of One Police Plaza invites everyone – or nearly everyone – to the deputy commissioner of operations’ Christmas party on Dec. 2.

        No mention of the deputy commissioner’s other date – Dec. 15. That’s when the deputy commissioner – whose name is Gary McCarthy – is to stand trial in New Jersey over his dispute with two Palisades Parkway Police officers who ticketed his daughter for illegally parking in a handicapped space.

        As for the deputy commissioner’s Christmas party, a sergeant in McCarthy’s office informed this reporter: “You’re not invited.”

        Farewell. This is Your Humble Servant’s last column for Newsday. It has been an honor and privilege to write about the men and women of the NYPD.

        Leonard Levitt can be reached at levitt@nypdconfidential.com or through his Web site, http://www.nypdconfidential.com

        1. Root@SanSebastianPartidasIndependistas
          Oscar López-Rivera was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico on January 6, 1943. At the age of 12, he moved to Chicago with his family.see:http://www.prisonactivist.org/pps+pows/oscar-lopez-rivera.html
          Comevacas y Tiznaos: Las Partidas Sediciosas
          en San Sebastián,PuertoRico, delPepino en 1898.http://ilustrados.com/publicaciones/EpyuZZpulABKJRJLJl.php

          One author Professor F.Pico writes about
          These Partidas/Sediciosas, armed groups that terrorized the Puerto Rican countryside in 1898 and 1899. Chiefly active during and after the invasion (July to October 1898), the partidas focused their anger on peninsular Spanish merchants and landowners. The bandits battered or killed their victims, and almost invariably destroyed property… Picó’s thoughtful typology of the partidas sheds light on the tensions that undercut Puerto Rican society at the end of the nineteenth century. The author reconstructs, with the help of U.S. military records, previously unexplored aspects of the invasion.

          1. Machetero@USPen2005.
            En 1898, el gobierno de Estados Unidos ordena a su ya poderosa flota naval la invasión del territorio puertorriqueño, ejecutándose esta tras un implacable bom-bardeo sobre la capital puertorriqueña de San Juan. Este hecho marcó el principio de la aplicación de una política colonial clásica en Puerto Rico, cosa que no pudie-ron hacer en Cuba ni en Filipinas.
            Existían entonces numerosas partidas sediciosas, entre ellas, una denominada como Los Macheteros, que es el origen histórico del nombre del Ejército Popular Boricua – Los Macheteros. Estas llamadas partidas sediciosas estaban divididas en sus objetivos. Algunas exigían, además de reivindicaciones sociales, el respeto a los derechos humanos y civiles de los puertorriqueños, al igual que la libertad para Puerto Rico. Otras se dedicaban a obtener beneficios mediante actos ajenos a los mejores intereses políticos y sociales de los puertorriqueños.
            Desde muchos meses antes de la invasión, Puerto Rico había logrado su autono-mía política tras décadas de luchas anticoloniales, y negociaciones con el régimen monárquico español. Uno de los artículos fundamentales del pacto político enton-ces concertado entre el pueblo de Puerto Rico y España expresaba, con toda clari-dad, que el mismo no podía ser unilateralmente modificado por ninguna de las partes, por lo que cualquier modificación política no podía ser impuesta por Espa-ña sin el tácito consentimiento del pueblo puertorriqueño. Ha sido ampliamente demostrado, por juristas expertos en la ley internacional, que el Tratado de París, firmado entre Estados Unidos y España en 1898, constituía una violación del Pacto Autonómico acordado entre el régimen de España y los representantes del pueblo puertorriqueño. El Tratado de París constituía, de hecho, una imposición de carác-ter militar que permitía la usurpación de la soberanía que legítimamente le corres-pondía al pueblo puertorriqueño, mediante un “traspaso” del territorio y del pueblo puertorriqueño a los Estados Unidos.
            Estos hechos reafirmaron el derecho ya reclamado durante más de un siglo por el pueblo puertorriqueño a su independencia nacional y al pleno ejercicio de su sobe-ranía. La administración política de Estados Unidos sobre Puerto Rico, durante los primeros años de su usurpación de nuestro territorio nacional, le fue asignado a las fuerzas militares y navales de ocupación. De inmediato, estos se dieron a la tarea de intentar destruir la personalidad nacional del pueblo puertorriqueño, su cultura, costumbres e idioma, todo ello ejerciendo el total control sobre la econo-mía nacional, sobre la superestructura ideológica sobre los medios de comunica-ción y formativos, y sobre todas aquellas agencias que tienen la responsabilidad de establecer las normas de vida de un pueblo.

          2. Las Partidas Sediciosas en Pepino en 1898

            «Comevacas y tizna(d)os» (5.5 x 8.5 paperback, 284
            páginas) reconstruye, por la vía de la historia
            documental y oral, el escenario social de una rebelión
            campesina ocurrida en el pueblo de San Sebastián del
            Pepino en 1898, misma que fue secuela directa de la
            Invasión Norteamericana y las consecuencias económicas
            originadas y agravadas por la Guerra Hispano
            Americana. López Dzur nos da una pintura de la
            influencia que dejara el movimiento anarcosindical y
            libertario peninsular y las injusticias y
            desigualdades inherentes a un régimen colonial, cuyo
            liderazgo local aún representó los intereses del
            caciquismo conservador.

            Contiene fotos, extensa bibliografía y apéndices, que
            bosquejan la historia de este pueblo puertorriqueños,
            los eventos de mayor trascendencia e impacto y lo
            ocurrido, desde antes de la Guerra Hispanoamericana
            hasta el final del periodo de quemas de haciendas,
            viviendas, robos, ultrajes y asesinatos, que se
            extendieran de 1898 a 1906.

            Carlos López Dzur es un historiador, poeta y narrador,
            graduado en las universidades de Puerto Rico (UPR),
            San Diego State University y Montana State. Es
            candidato al PhD en Filosofía Contemporánea en UC,
            Irvine, y autor de más de una docena de libros
            poéticos y de ficción. Este es uno de los trabajos de
            la serie en preparación «Trece monografías sobre
            historia pepiniana».

            Su libro acaba de ser publicado por Outkirts Press,
            Inc. de Parker, Colorado, y puede adquirirse en: href=”http://www.outskirtspress.com/cgi/webpage.cgi?ISBN=1598001612″>Comevacas
            y Tiznaos

          3. Comevacas “Grito..” this&that
            Oscar/MuchasGracias/ Comevacas Ytizna0 de San Sebastián del Pepino en SanJuanBatista, del “grito de lares” a 1898 el tiempo de terror a major leap of faith y la haciendas were burning en la noche de la SediciosasPartidas de PuertoRicanoIndependistas, quienes asociaron el gansterismo, o el estilo mafia italiano, al anarquismo, invocándose para hacerlo ciertos elementos: la peculiar secretividad de la Camorra napolitana de 1820 y el poder que adquirió ya para 1848, los rituales masónicos, el disfraz de pintarse las caras y la ambición política siquitrillada tras bambalinas,a long way from seville.
            [From 1848 it began to intervine in politics and continued to be a very real menace until1911, when severe judicial action led to its extinction[moreunderground you exist chastisment gievious punishment@the graveyard evrlasting]
            En este sentido, es que Echeandía Font aludiría a los comevacas y tiznaos, al designarlos como camorristas, vividores, que buscaban poder. Para él, del ex-funcionario municipal Juan Tomás Cabán avelino Méndez Martínez y otros en Pepino, hasta líderes grandes como Muñoz Rivera y José de Diego, cuando fue fiscal, dieron protección a los campesinos armados partidas sediciosas; empero, la burguesía local les consideraba, pese a su prestigio, una partida de extorsionistas;bajo el imperio de Don Luis I, de Barranquitas. Cf. véase el editorial Respirando por la herida, en: El Regional-SanSebastián,Puerto Rico

            El ladrón es ladrón y se morirá ladrón. Por lo memos, el ladrón de altura de los pepino de san sabastian.
            En otros países el que roba es para lograr mujeres y drogas o licores, para lograr la satisfacción de los bajos instintos que lo animan,y que roban para disenfranchise los propriterios será ladrón toda su vida.

            Allá están juntos los que golpean nuestra conciencia con los criminal en el numbre de sediciousas partidarias, los ladrones irremediables, complicados en asesinatos del pueblo de una familia Pagan-Restos,mira EcoAvila, los comevacas cuyas hazañas de produjeran entre la masa campesina que asesinaron en la zona del Ciales sembrando un terror más grande que el de los de lares. Ellos son la conciencia partidaria independistas macheteros con los grito en Lares y Ciales y Ponce y USCongress1954 y BlaireHouse1950http://vdare.com/sailer/060108_gunfight.htm ,Chicago,NewYorkCity 1975.
            Ellos son los pecadores que no debe repetirse, y el de la enseñanza que debemos aprender sobre la liberacion en Union Con EstadosUnidos la BanderaLinda en la Avenida Las Americas en San Juan Batista!
            Que Viva PresidentMcKinleyLiberator
            assesinated dawn of the 20thCentury
            evryone cried on the island of San Juan Batista except Independistas up graded 2Blackshirts.com/facistas!

            CWpDetection Rule@the entrance LuisMarinAirport San Juan,PR oo

        2. En Pepino, el campesinado bla
          En Pepino, el campesinado blanco, peninsular o criollo, observó el marasmopolítico, en medio del juego de fuerzas hostiles. Y desde el fin de laadministración del Gobernador General Sabás Marín, se acostaba y levantabasin saber quién habría de ser su gobernador.

          Uno de los últimos gobernadores españoles, Ricardo de Ortega tuvo tresinterinatos el mismo año de 1898. Andrés González Muñoz murió a días de sunombramiento y el General Manuel Macías y Casado duró de febrero a octubre enel cargo antes de que Ortega lo sucediese como gobernador actuante con ladecepcionante y triste tarea de pasar el poder de la Isla al primero de trespacificadores del intervencionismo extranjero, quienes se turnaron comogobernadores militares ese mismo año de 1898: Nelson A. Miles, John R. Brooke yGuy Vernon Henry.

          Los campesinos de origen peninsular, con anécdóticas nostalgias, comparabanlos sucesos locales y aquellos vividos o recordados y sucedidos en lasprovincias de España, donde surgía su ancestro familiar. Algunos de ellos yahabían comprendido las reformas autonómicas que representó el régimen deManuel Macías y Casado. Y eran apasionados autonomistas, aún liberales.Empero, el domicilio en Puerto Rico no cambió la condición socialsignificativamente del inmigrante peninsular pobre. Había rezago económico enEspaña lo mismo que en la isla. Por lo menos, en la isla siempre se presupusoque habría mayor paz. Así pensaron. Con cierta frontalidad, cónsona a suopinión política, para algunos inmigrantes españoles la razón de sudomicilio en la isla se cimentó en el descontento con las guerras internas enEspaña

      3. Sept23,1868 Lares PuertoRico
        The events just summarized exercised a baneful influence on the
        social, political, and economic conditions of this and of its more
        important sister Antilla.

        Royalists, Carlists, Liberals, Reformists, Unionists, Moderates, and
        men of other political parties disputed over the direction of the
        nation’s affairs at the point of the sword, and as each party obtained
        an ephemeral victory it hastened to send its partizans to govern
        these islands. The new governors invariably proceeded at once to undo
        what their predecessors had wrought before them.

        They succeeded each other at short intervals. From 1837 to 1874
        twenty-six captains-general came to Puerto Rico, only six of whom left
        any grateful memories behind. The others looked upon the people as
        always watching for an opportunity to follow the example of the
        continental colonies. They pursued a policy of distrust, suspicion,
        and of uncompromising antagonism to the people’s most legitimate

        The reactionists, in their implacable odium of progress and liberty,
        considered every measure calculated to give greater freedom to the
        people or raise their moral and intellectual status as a crime against
        the mother country; hence the utter absence of the means of education,
        and a systematic demoralization of the masses.

        Don Angel Acosta[53] mentions the Count de Torrepando as an example of
        this. He came from Venezuela to govern this island in 1837, with the
        express purpose, he declared, of diverting the attention of the
        inhabitants from the revolutionary doings of Bolivar.

        Gambling was, and is still, one of the ruling vices of the common
        people. He encouraged it, established cockpits in every town and
        instituted the carnival games. He also established the feast of San
        Juan, which lasted, and still lasts, the whole month of June; and
        when some respectable people, Insulars as well as Peninsulars,
        protested against this official propaganda of vice and idleness, he
        replied: “Let them be–while they dance and gamble they don’t
        conspire; … these people must be governed by three B’s–Barraja,
        Botella, and Berijo.” [54] General Pezuela, a man of liberal
        disposition and literary attainments,[55] stigmatized the people of
        Puerto Rico as a people without faith, without thought, and without
        religion, and, though he afterward did something for the intellectual
        development of the inhabitants, in the beginning of his administration
        (1848-1851) thought it expedient not to discourage cock-fighting, but
        regulated it.

        In 1865 gambling was public and universal. In the capital there was a
        gambling-house in almost every street. One in the upper story of the
        house at the corner of San Francisco and Cruz Streets, kept by an
        Italian, was crowded day and night. The bank could be distinctly seen
        from the Plaza, and the noise, the oaths, the foul language, mixing
        with the chink of money distinctly heard. When the governor’s
        attention (General Felix Messina) was called to the scandalous
        exhibition, his answer was: “Let them gamble, … while they are at it
        they will not occupy themselves with politics, and if they get ruined
        it is for the benefit of others.”

        This systematic villification of the people completely neutralized
        the effect of the measures adopted from time to time by progressist
        governors, such as the Count of Mirasol, Norzagaray, Cotoner, and
        Pavia, and not even the revolution of September, 1868, materially
        affected the disgraceful condition of affairs in the island. Only
        those who paid twenty-five pesos direct contribution had the right of
        suffrage. The press remained subject to previous censorship, its
        principal function being to swing the incense-burner; the right of
        public reunion was unknown, and if known would have been
        impracticable; the majority of the respectable citizens lived under
        constant apprehension lest they should be secretly accused of
        disloyalty and prosecuted. Rumors of conspiracies, filibustering
        expeditions, clandestine introductions of arms, and attempts at
        insurrection were the order of the day. Every Liberal was sure to be
        inscribed on the lists of “suspects,” harassed and persecuted.

        A seditious movement among the garrison on the 7th of June, 1867, gave
        Governor Marchessi a pretext for banishing about a dozen of the
        leading inhabitants of the capital, an arbitrary proceeding which was
        afterward disapproved by the Government in Madrid.

        Such a situation naturally affected the economic conditions of the
        island. Confidence there was none. Credit was refused. Capital
        emigrated with its possessors. Commerce and agriculture languished.
        Misery spread over the land. The treasury was empty, for no
        contributions could be collected from an impoverished population, and
        the island’s future was compromised by loans at usurious rates.

        The dethronement of Isabel II, and the revolution of September, 1868,
        brought a change for the better. The injustice done to the Antilles by
        the Cortes of 1873 was repaired, and the island was again called upon
        to elect representatives. The first meetings with that object were
        held in February, 1869.

        The ideas and tendencies of the Liberal and Conservative parties among
        the native Puerto Ricans were now beginning to be defined. Each party
        had its organ in the press[56] and advocated its principles; the
        authorities stood aloof; the elections came off in an orderly manner
        (May, 1869); the Conservatives carried the first and third districts,
        the Liberals the second.

        It may be said that the political education of the Puerto Ricans
        commenced with the royal decree of 1865, which authorized the minister
        of ultramarine affairs, Canovas del Castillo, to draw up a report from
        the information to be furnished by special commissioners to be elected
        in Puerto Rico and Cuba, which information was to serve as a basis for
        the enactment of special laws for the government of each island. This
        gave the commissioners an opportunity to discuss their views on
        insular government with the leading public men of Spain, and they
        profited by these discussions till 1867, when they returned.

        The question of the abolition of slavery had not been brought to a
        decision. The insular deputies were almost equally divided in their
        opinions for and against, but the revolutionary committee in its
        manifesto declared that from September 19, 1868, all children born of
        a slave mother should be free.

        In Puerto Rico this measure remained without effect owing to the
        arbitrary and reactionist character of the governor who was appointed
        to succeed Don Julian Pavia, during whose just and prudent
        administration the so-called Insurrection of Lares happened. It was
        originally planned by an ex-commissioner to Cortes, Don Ruiz Belviz,
        and his friend Betances, who had incurred the resentment of Governor
        Marchessi, and who were banished in consequence. They obtained the
        remission of their sentences in Madrid. Betances returned to Santo
        Domingo and Belviz started on a tour through Spanish-American
        republics to solicit assistance in his secessionist plan; but he died
        in Valparaiso, and Betances was left to carry it out alone.

        September 20, 1868, two or three hundred individuals of all classes
        and colors, many of them negro slaves brought along by their masters
        under promise of liberation, met at the coffee plantation of a Mr.
        Bruckman, an American, who provided them with knives and machetes, of
        which he had a large stock in readiness. Thus armed they proceeded to
        the plantation of a Mr. Rosas, who saluted them as “the army of
        liberators,” and announced himself as their general-in-chief, in token
        whereof he was dressed in the uniform of an American fireman, with a
        tri-colored scarf across his breast, a flaming sash around his waist,
        with sword, revolver, and cavalry boots. During the day detachments
        of men from different parts of the district joined the party and
        brought the numbers to from eight to ten hundred. The commissariat,
        not yet being organized, the general-in-chief generously provided an
        abundant meal for his men, which, washed down with copious drafts of
        rum, put them in excellent condition to undertake the march on Lares
        that same evening.

        At midnight the peaceful inhabitants of that small town, which lies
        nestled among precipitous mountains in the interior, were startled
        from their sleep by loud yells and cries of “Long live Puerto Rico
        independent! Down with Spain! Death to the Spaniards!” The alcalde and
        his secretary, who came out in the street to see what the noise was
        about, were made prisoners and placed in the stocks, where they were
        soon joined by a number of Spaniards who lived in the town.

        The contents of two or three wine and provision shops (pulperias) that
        were plundered kept the “enthusiasm” alive.

        The next day the Republic of Boriquen was proclaimed. To give
        solemnity to the occasion, the curate was forced to hold a
        thanksgiving service and sing a Te Deum, after which the Provisional
        Government was installed. Francisco Ramirez, a small landholder, was
        the president. The justice of the peace was made secretary of
        government, his clerk became secretary of finance, another clerk was
        made secretary of justice, and the lessee of a cockpit secretary of
        state. The “alcaldia” was the executive’s palace, and the queen’s
        portrait, which hung in the room, was replaced by a white flag with
        the inscription: “Long live free Puerto Rico! Liberty or Death! 1868.”

        The declaration of independence came next. All Spaniards were ordered
        to leave the island with their families within three days, failing
        which they would be considered as citizens of the new-born republic
        and obliged to take arms in its defense; in case of refusal they would
        be treated as traitors.

        The next important step was to form a plan of campaign. It was agreed
        to divide “the army” in two columns and march them the following day
        on the towns of Pepino and Camuy; but when morning came it appeared
        that the night air had cooled the enthusiasm of more than half the
        number of “liberators,” and that, considering discretion the better
        part of valor, they had returned to their homes.

        However, there were about three hundred men left, and with these the
        “commander-in-chief” marched upon Pepino. When the inhabitants became
        aware of the approach of their liberators they ran to shut themselves
        up in their houses. The column made a short halt at a “pulperia” in
        the outskirts of the town, to take some “refreshment,” and then boldly
        penetrated to the plaza, where it was met by sixteen loyal militiamen.
        A number of shots were exchanged. One “libertador” was killed and two
        or three wounded, when suddenly some one cried: “The soldiers are
        coming!” This was the signal for a general _sauve qui peut_, and soon
        Commander Rojas with a few of his “officers” were left alone. It is
        said that he tried to rally his panic-stricken warriors, but they
        would not listen to him. Then he returned to his plantation a sadder,
        but, presumably, a wiser man.[57]

        As soon as the news of the disturbance reached San Juan, the Governor
        sent Lieutenant-Colonel Gamar in pursuit of the rebels, with orders to
        investigate the details of the movement and make a list of names of
        all those implicated. Rosas and all his followers were taken prisoners
        without resistance. Bruckman and a Venezuelan resisted and were shot

        Here was an opportunity for the reactionists to visit on the heads of
        all the members of the reform party the offense of a few misguided
        jibaros, and they tried hard to persuade the governor to adopt severe
        measures against their enemies; but General Pavia was a just and a
        prudent man, and he placed the rebels at the disposition of the civil
        court. They were imprisoned in Lares, Arecibo, and Aguadilla, and,
        while awaiting their trial, an epidemic, brought on by the unsanitary
        conditions of the prisons in which they were packed, speedily carried
        off seventy-nine of them.

        Of the rest seven were condemned to death, but the governor pardoned
        five. The remaining two were pardoned by his successor.

        So ended the insurrection of Lares. During the trial of the rebels,
        the same members of the reform party who had been banished by
        Governor Marchessi, Don Julian Blanco, Don Jose Julian Acosta, Don
        Pedro Goico, Don Rufino Goenaga, and Don Calixto Romero, were
        denounced as the leaders of the Separatist movement. They were
        imprisoned, but were soon after found to have been falsely accused and

        [Illustration: Only remaining gate of the city wall, San Juan.]

        Until the arrival of General Don Gabriel Baldrich as governor (May,
        1870), Puerto Rico benefited little by the revolution of September,
        1868. The insurrection in Cuba, which coincided with the movement in
        Lares, made Sanz, the successor of Pavia, a man of arbitrary character
        and reactionary principles, adopt a policy more suspicious and
        intransigent than ever (from 1869 to 1870), but Governor Baldrich was
        a staunch Liberal, and the Separatist phantom which had haunted
        his predecessor had no terrors for him. From the day of his arrival,
        the dense atmosphere of obstruction, distrust, and jealousy in which
        the island was suffocating cleared. The rumors of conspiracies ceased,
        political opinions were respected, the Liberals could publicly express
        their desire for reform without being subjected to insult and
        persecution. The gag was removed from the mouth of the press and each
        party had its proper organ. The municipal elections came off
        peaceably, and the Provincial Deputation, composed entirely of Liberal
        reformists, was inaugurated April 1, 1871.

        General Baldrich was terribly harassed by the intransigents here and
        in the Peninsula. He was accused of being an enemy of Spain and of
        protecting the Separatists. Meetings were held denouncing his
        administration, menaces of expulsion were uttered, and he was insulted
        even in his own palace. Violent opposition to his reform measures were
        carried to such an extent that he was at last obliged to declare the
        capital in a state of siege (July 26, 1871).

        On September 27th of the same year he left Puerto Rico disgusted, much
        to the regret of the enlightened part of the population, which had,
        for the first time, enjoyed for a short period the benefits of
        political freedom. As a proof of the disposition of the majority of
        the people they had elected eighteen Liberal reformists as Deputies to
        Cortes out of the nineteen that corresponded to the island.

        Baldrich’s successor was General Ramon Gomez Pulido, nicknamed “coco
        seco” (dried coconut) on account of his shriveled appearance. Although
        appointed by a Radical Ministry, he inaugurated a reactionary policy.
        He ordered new elections to be held at once, and soon filled the
        prisons of the island with Liberal reformists. He was followed by
        General Don Simon de la Torre (1872). His reform measures met with
        still fiercer opposition than that which General Baldrich encountered.
        He also was forced to declare the state of siege in the capital and
        landed the marines of a Spanish war-ship that happened to be in the
        port. He posted them in the Morro and San Cristobal forts, with the
        guns pointed on the city, threatening to bombard it if the
        “inconditionals” who had tried to suborn the garrison carried their
        intention of promoting an insurrection into effect. He removed the
        chief of the staff from his post and sent him to Spain, relieved the
        colonel of the Puerto Rican battalion and the two colonels in
        Mayaguez and Ponce from their respective commands, and maintained
        order with a strong hand till he was recalled by the Government in
        Madrid through the machinations of his opponents.

        During the interval between the departure of General Baldrich and the
        arrival in April, 1873, of Lieutenant-General Primo de Rivero, there
        happened what was called “the insurrection of Camuy,” in which three
        men were killed, two wounded, and sixteen taken prisoners, which
        turned out to have been an unwarrantable aggression on the part of the
        reactionists, falsely reported as an attempt at insurrection.

        General Primo de Rivero brought with him the proclamation of the
        abolition of slavery and Article I of the Constitution of 1869,
        whereby the inhabitants of the island were recognized as Spaniards.

        Great popular rejoicings followed these proclamations. In San Juan
        processions paraded the streets amid “vivas” to Spain, to the
        Republic, and to Liberty. In Ponce the people and the soldiers
        fraternized, and the long-cherished aspirations of the inhabitants
        seemed to be realized at last.

        But they were soon to be undeceived. The Republican authorities in the
        metropolis sent Sanz, the reactionist, as governor for the second
        time. His first act was to suspend the individual guarantees granted
        by the Constitution, then he abolished the Provincial Deputation,
        dissolved the municipalities in which the Liberal reformists had a
        majority, and a new period of persecution set in, in which teachers,
        clergymen, lawyers, and judges–in short, all who were distinguished
        by superior education and their liberal ideas–were punished for the
        crime of having striven with deed or tongue or pen for the progress
        and welfare of the land of their birth