The Empire’s Attack On Ojeda Rios And Independence
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
The September 23rd, 2005 attack and armed assault on Puerto Rican nationalist, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, left the family and his island without his proud and noble presence, but it did not achieve its real desired objective. The armed agents of Empire attacked the home and family of the 72-year old revolutionary, shot him, and left him to bleed to death for hours in his home in Hormigueros, in the island’s mountainous regions.
Dr. Hector Pesquera, president of the Hostosiano independence movement, nailed it when he said, of the heavily-armed FBI assault, “They did not come to arrest Filiberto Ojeda, they came to kill him.”
Nor was it mere coincidence that the date the FBI chose to raid the Ojeda home was the island’s day of national historical significance. Sept. 23rd was the 107th anniversary of “El Grito de Lares,” when thousands of Puerto Ricans annually mark a day of resistance against the Spanish colonizers. Today, it remains a colony of the Americans.
By the slaughter of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, the issue of Independence has arisen like a flame within the hearts of Puerto Ricans. When word arrived of his assassination, I flashed, almost immediately, back to Dec. 4, 1969, when Fred Hampton, Deputy Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party chapter in Illinois, and Peoria’s Black Panther Captain, Mark Clark, were assassinated in their home in Chicago. The FBI was behind those murders also. And just like that assassination, the government reacted to their political assassinations with lies.
But, again, the objectives of the Empire was to extinguish the fires of freedom and independence from the heart of the nation. If reaction to Ojeda’s murder is any indication, then they have failed miserably. There are events in the life of a people, that mark them. That sparks them. That moves their minds and hearts from acquiescence to resistance. This may prove just such a moment.
Dylcia Pagan, former Puerto Rican political prisoner, wrote, within hours of the slaughter:
“What occurred was a political assassination of a Puerto Rican warrior orchestrated by a U.S. FBI Federal Task Force. Even the municipality mayor Pedro Garcia in a radio interview stated that this occurrence was not a coincidence. The initial strategic firing by the FBI took place at 3:00 pm; at 6:00 to 6:30pm another follow-up firing occurred. The president of the Utier Union, Roberto Santos, that represents the electrical workers of Puerto Rico, called a major radio station to inform the Puerto Rican people that he had been informed by the FBI that all electrical power to the municipality of Hormigueros would be cut off. It took two days for all of us to know their justification which was that they needed to utilize their [infra]-red equipment for security measures. Hormigueros has been under federal seizure for the last four days. All of the Puerto Rican Press has not been allowed to bring their cameras into Filiberto’s residence ....”
Pagan adds: “In 1898 El Grito de Lares was a fight against Spanish colonialism. Today in 2005 a new Grito de Lares emerges against U.S. colonial rule over our nation, Puerto Rico.”
The spirit that led to the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Rios is precisely the spirit that led to the brutal, and illegal invasion and occupation in Iraq. It is capitalism run wild. It is imperialism in its nakedness. It is the spirit that wishes to crush all expressions of human freedom, while doing so in the name of “Freedom!” It is state terrorism, pure and simple, against the very idea of freedom and true independence.
There is only one real response that can bring change: Broad, deep, mobilization of the people against this neoliberal nightmare. Resistance. Resistance. And More Resistance!
—Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal, October 6, 2005