Puerto Rico: rallies honor Ojeda Rios

Thousands of Puerto Ricans rallied in the northwestern town of Lares on Sept. 23, the anniversary of the 1868 Grito de Lares (“Cry of Lares”), an uprising against Spanish rule. The events also marked the first anniversary of the death of independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios, who was killed in an assault by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the farmhouse where he was living clandestinely. The ceremony in Lares was largely devoted to remembering Ojeda and Socialist Front leader Jorge Farinacci, who died of cancer in August 2006. Organizers said attendance was up this year because of anger over the killing of Ojeda.

Afterwards, demonstrators formed a caravan of vehicles and drove to the nearby western town of Hormigueros, where Ojeda was killed. Masked members of Ojeda’s rebel Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Macheteros (“cane cutters”) circulated through the crowd passing out the group’s newspaper, El Machete and a press release criticizing disunity in the independence movement and promising “justice” for Ojeda’s death. Earlier in the week Luis Fraticelli, the FBI’s director in Puerto Rico, said there was an alert for possible terrorists acts. No incidents were reported during the demonstrations. (El Diario-La Prensa, NY, Sept. 24; AP, Sept. 23; El Nuevo Dia, San Juan, Sept. 23)

Some 250 people marched from New York’s Times Square to the United Nations complex on Sept. 23 wearing t-shirts with Ojeda’s image and carrying Puerto Rican flags, protest signs and an effigy of US president George W. Bush labeled “terrorist #1.” (ED-LP, Sept. 24)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 24

See our last post on the Ojeda Rio case.