(Published in Workers World newspaper March 2, 2006.)
protests FBI attacks on activists
By Tom Soto
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Some 500 protesters blocked the entrance to the U.S. Federal Courthouse here on Feb. 20 to denounce recent FBI raids against the homes and workplaces of “independentistas” - supporters of Puerto Rican independence - and the growing repression by the FBI against the independence movement in general.
For many blocks on Chardón St. (Calle Chardón) where the Federal Court is housed all that could be seen was a sea of green flags with a white cross — the flags of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), the initiators of today’s demonstration.
Present at the activity was Elma Beatriz Rosado, widow of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, assassinated by the FBI on Sept. 23. Ojeda Ríos was the leader of the Ejército Popular Boricua—Macheteros (Popular Puerto Rican Army—The Canecutters.)
Today’s protests were stimulated by the FBI raids of Feb. 10, when hundreds of agents invaded the homes and offices of pro-independence activists, seizing property including computers and the mailing lists of pro-independence organizations. At the home of Liliana Laboy, the FBI attacked a crowd that gathered outside her apartment, spraying everyone with pepper gas, including members of the media.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party, which is an electoral Party, mobilized its committees from all over the Island. PIP delegations from as far away as Mayaguez, Cabo Rojo, and Arecibo were present at the demonstration. Present at the activity were all the national leaders of the PIP, including its president, Rubén Berríos, senator María de Lourdes Santiago and House of Representatives member Víctor García San Inocencio.
From many blocks away marchers could be heard chanting: “Dile No, Dile No—A la Colonia Dile No” (We Say No, We Say No—We Say No to Colonialism), “El Tribunal Federal—Lo Tenemos Que Sacar” (The Federal Court, Has to Be Kicked Out) and “FBI Fascistas—Verdaderos Terroristas (FBI Fascists—The Real Terrorists). The island nation of Puerto Rico has been a colony of the U.S. since 1898, when it was seized as a territorial possession during the Spanish-American War.
Marchers carried many banners and placards, some of which read: “FBI Asesinos, Gobierno Colonial Cómplice” (FBI Assassins, the Colonial Government is an Accomplice), “No al FBI—No a la Colonia” (No to the FBI—No to Colonialism), and “Como en Vieques—Unidos Venceremos” (As In Vieques—United We Will Win). The last slogan refers to the successful struggle waged by the Puerto Rican people that ousted the U.S. Navy from the island of Vieques.
According to PIP leaders, today’s demonstration marks the beginning of a campaign to get the FBI out of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Independence Party is planning another larger activity to take place during the World Classic of Baseball in San Juan on March 7.
Today’s demonstration was supported by other organizations, which included Rompiendo El Perímetro (Breaking the Perimeter), Comité en Apoyo a Vieques (Committee in Support of Vieques) and the Frente Socialista (Socialist Front).□
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