reading last Thursday's issue of The Blanket
(16.2.06), I felt obligated to comment on the pursuit
of peaceful solutions to the troubles of two islands
that are a part of me and a part of my history:
Puerto Rico and Ireland. Despite the fact that I
was not born in Ireland I am, by birth and predilection,
an implacable, dyed-in-the-wool albizuista,
which means that I am a hard-core Republican, that
I love Ireland as if I had been born there for she
is my bloodsister, and so she is also to albizuistas
everywhere, be they in Puerto Rico, or in the Diaspora
that is the port of final call for many of history's
exiles and patriots. I am the kind of Republican
the CRJ might feel the need to visit, the kind who
believes that self-determination and reunification
cannot be achieved by settling for some share of
power to be determined by political parties resolutely
at odds with each other. Irish and Puerto Rican
history have clearly proved the inchoate nature
of power-sharing initiatives in modern times with
spokesmen like Muñoz Marín, Luis Ferrer,
Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuiness. And how can we forget the admonition
of U.S. journalist Ambrose Bierce who called warfare
"a by-product of the arts of peace"?
last time I traveled through Puerto Rico, Northern
Ireland was a topic of whispered conversation among
the people who have, of late, wondered what is happening
to our comrades on the other side of the Atlantic.
"How many lives have been saved by the GFA?
What troubles have been conclusively resolved by
the GFA?...What happened to Sinn Féin?...What
about Gerry Adams? Are the rumors true?...Is something
always better than nothing?"
do not have to whisper from where I write. I am
safe, far from Eireann, far from Puerto Rico, perhaps
considered an interloper by some Irish brethren
who do not know of the noble Latin American Fenian
called Albizu. Yet it is from Pedro Albizu Campos
that I derive, and shall exercise, my right to opine.
I have wanted to do so since Commandant Filiberto
Ojeda Ríos, leader of the clandestine Puerto
Rican army known as the Ejercito Popular Boricua-Macheteros,
was murdered by the FBI in his home in Hormigueros,
Puerto Rico, on the 23rd of September 2005. His
whereabouts had been divulged to "authorities"
by a Puerto Rican traitor, a member of the U.S.
armed forces. A series of human rights abuses followed
whereby a dozen families in Puerto Rico have had
their homes and lives turned upside down by U.S.
agents suspecting them of terrorist activities.
These abuses coincided with your reports on the
Ballymurphy pogrom and the murder of Gerard Devlin.
Yet, I know who the terrorists really were the day
the 72-year-old Commandant's home was surrounded
by FBI sharpshooters. Fired upon for hours because
he would not surrender, the FBI made sure no medical
personnel of any kind could approach the premises.
The pro-independence leader was deliberately left
to bleed to death on an important anniversary to
the Puerto Rican people, El Grito de Lares
(The Lares Rebellion), commemorating an armed insurrection
against Spain in 1868. A prerecorded message from
the Commandant was played to the crowds during the
Lares Rebellion ceremony at the precise moment the
FBI was assassinating the albizuista leader.
The strongest country in the world chose this date
to make a point to one of the smallest islands in
the world. In an article printed in El Nuevo
Día on the 16th of October, Ramon Grosfoguel,
professor at the University of California at Berkeley,
pointed out that "what the United States did
to Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was State terrorism,
which is a lot more dangerous...Look what happened
in Panama in 1989. In order to arrest Noriega, an
ex-CIA agent, the State led an operation that killed
thousands of civilians..."
series of articles in all our newspapers followed,
asking whether the murder will revive the possibility
of armed struggle again in Puerto Rico. According
to Juan Enrique Segarra Palmer, a former member
of Puerto Rico's clandestine army, "The underground
organization led by Filiberto is like the U.S. National
Guard. It is activated when necessary, and proof
that it exists is that the Commandant had enough
support to evade U.S. authorities for fifteen years."
the 26th of September, the day before the burial
of Commandant Ojeda Ríos, the IRA announced
that they had laid down their arsenal of weapons.
This gesture, a pivotal act in keeping with the
Good Friday Agreement, still did not satisfy Unionists
who continue their fight to keep Northern Ireland
a territory ruled by the British. This fight may
well turn out to be a conflict that does not determine
who is right--but who is left.
is the question that concerns me the most. Who will
be left? Allow Irish accommodationists, and British
and Puerto Rican annexationists to kill the Ojedas
and Joe O'Connors and Diarmuid O'Neills of our homelands
and who will be left to question the terrorist agendas
of the most violent imperialist countries in the
world: England and the United States?