Puerto Rico: march for Ojeda Rios

More than 1,000 people marched in the western Puerto Rican town of Hormigueros on Oct. 8 to protest the killing of nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios there on Sept. 23 by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The march was organized by pro-independence groups, including the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, but participants included people who want Puerto Rico to join the US as a state. Some marchers were local residents who knew Ojeda as “Don Luis” during the time he lived in Hormigueros clandestinely. “He was a beautiful person; he lived quietly on his little farm,” said store owner Luis Garcia, who remembered Ojeda occasionally coming by to get a beer. (El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico, Oct. 9)

Questions continue about the FBI operation that led to the death of Ojeda, who had been convicted of masterminding a 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut. An unidentified former US Navy intelligence officer told New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez that he and two friends had met with FBI agents several times in early 2004 to inform them that Ojeda was living in Hormigueros and that he often ate at El Conejo Blanco, a local restaurant. “All they had to do was set up surveillance at the restaurant, and they could have picked him up,” the informant said. “They could easily have taken him alive.” (DN, Oct. 6)

According to an unnamed “high official” in the Puerto Rican police, FBI agents were already in Hormigueros on Sept. 9, the day they say they located Ojeda’s house by following people who were carrying packages from the fugitive. The FBI then waited two weeks before raiding his home on Sept. 23, the anniversary of a 1868 uprising against the Spanish known as “Grito de Lares.” (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, Oct. 7)

FBI agents have been looking for Antonio Camacho Negron, a Machetero who was released from prison in August 2004 after serving a 15-year sentence for the Wells Fargo robbery, according to relatives who have been visited by the agents. Camacho Negron told the Spanish-language New York daily El Diario-La Prensa on Oct. 13 that the FBI is planning to arrest him based on its claim that he had 56 more days to serve when he was released. Camacho Negron says that in fact he served some 25 days more than his term. “He’s in Puerto Rico, and he’s free,” his US attorney, Linda Backiel, said on Oct. 14, adding that the FBI has not contacted her. Backiel expressed concern for Camacho Negron’s physical safety. If the FBI wants to contact him, she said, “they should do it through me.” Camacho Negron charged that the FBI was reacting to his outspoken comments on the killing of Ojeda.

Pro-independence organizations in Puerto Rico say the FBI has prepared arrest warrants for 100 people connected to Ojeda or the pro-independence movement. (ED-LP, Oct. 14, 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 16

See our last post on the Ojeda Rios case.