September 2005   

State Terrorism: Filiberto Ojeda Ríos
Assassinated by FBI Death Squad

Filiberto Ojeda RíosOn Friday, September 23, an FBI hit squad brazenly murdered Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos in his home in the municipality of Hormigueros. Ojeda Ríos was the historical leader of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Party/Ejército Popular Boricua – Macheteros. He has been on the feds’ “most wanted” list for the last decade and a half, for having escaped from their mid-1980s judicial vendetta against 15 independentistas. Ojeda’s killing was a cold-blooded assassination by a government death squad, and a deliberate provocation, coming on the anniversary of the 1868 Grito de Lares, when Puerto Ricans first rose up fighting for independence from Spain.

The federal agents arrived by helicopter in mid-afternoon on the 23rd, and according to Ojeda’s wife, Elma Beatriz Rosado Barbosa, they immediately started firing at the house. This was confirmed by a neighbor who saw the agents arrive. Rosado Barbosa also said that the Machetero leader offered to surrender, which was confirmed by an FBI spokesman, and that her husband was still alive when they took her away blindfolded. When she was gone they killed him. The FBI official said that the agents only fired “in self-defense.” This is a blatant lie, contradicted by other government officials. The FBI asked Puerto Rican officials to leave the scene, and then waited for almost 24 hours before entering the house, guaranteeing that their victim would bleed to death.

The Puerto Rican secretary of justice, Roberto Sánchez Ramos, reported that the government squad unleashed a hail of more than 100 bullets, while Ojeda fired at most 5 or 10 shots. The Puerto Rican official also said that Ojeda was killed by a single bullet fired from above, suggesting an outright execution. “Preliminary reports are that if he had been given immediate medical attention, he could have survived. There are questions about the decision of the federal authorities not to enter the house for many hours after having wounded him,” Sánchez said. (Primera Hora, 26 September). This was the second time the government tried to murder Ojeda, having surrounded his house and smashed down his door while arresting him in 1985.

Helicopter extracts U.S. hit squad after assassination of Ojeda Rios, September 24.
(Photo: Brennan Linsley/AP)

Ojeda Ríos was murdered because he fought for independence of his country from more than a century of colonial subjugation by U.S. imperialism. This government has attempted innumerable times to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is now threatening Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and in the past two and a half years has slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqis. Washington has been smarting ever since the Macheteros dramatically destroyed nine planes of the Air National Guard at Muñiz Air Base in 1981. As proletarian internationalists we have considerable political differences with the Macheteros, who have sought to unite with bourgeois pro-independence parties on a nationalist basis and looked to spectacular actions rather than mobilizing the working class, but we stand on the same side of the barricades with them against the colonial regime and its murderous repressive apparatus.

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International denounce this act of naked state terrorism and call on the workers movement and all defenders of democratic rights to protest this crime. We warn that the federal government and the Puerto Rican police kept a blacklist of up to 135,000 names, and more murderous arrests may be in the offing. We demand the immediate release of all Puerto Rican independence fighters, including Carlos Alberto Torres, José Pérez González, José A. Vélez Acosta, Haydée Beltran Torres and Oscar López Rivera. We demand unconditional independence for Puerto Rico – Yankee imperialists get the hell out! – as part of a fight for socialist revolution throughout the Caribbean and in the imperialist citadel.

–26 September 2005

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com