Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Thousands of people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Diaspora protested. Murals were painted. T-Shirts were printed. Even a reggaeton song was made. All condemning the brutal and cowardly acts of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. In Puerto Rico people rallied to the streets yelling "asesinos", while the Governor put on his best "I don’t know shit" face and claimed he was not aware of the assassination orders being executed in the small town of Hormigueros on Puerto Rico’s west coast. The chief of Police, an ex-F.B.I. agent himself, did the same.
In Chicago, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia and other cities throughout the Diaspora, Puerto Rican community leaders and their allies and friends held events and organized to spread the word about yet another vicious attack against those struggling for freedom and independence for Puerto Rico.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The month’s that followed were filled with allegations, denials, and a large-scale witch hunt rounding up professors, shoe repairmen, authors, community organizers, and students whom the F.B.I. tried to tie to the clandestine Pro-Independence group Los Macheteros. After one such round up, at a well respected and much loved professor’s house, the media, who was covering the event, was trampled on and maced by the F.B.I.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The various multitudes of pro-independence organizations that for decades had been at difference with each other were speaking about unity and collective action. This was to be the defining moment when ideologies and egos were going to be put to the back in the spirit of unity, as Filiberto himself had called for at his last speech. Socialista, pipiolo, nacionalista, Chicago, New York were all identifiers that were no longer going to mean shit. All that was supposed to matter now was that everyone wanted the same thing, the independence of Puerto Rico.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. In the time since then Filiberto has grown to become another symbolic figure that stands to inspire and challenge us.
In reflecting on what occurred that day I kept returning to the fact that the assassination highlighted something for me that I have always believed and spoken about and that is that the "movement’s" failure lays in its reactionary nature.
"Look they assassinated Filiberto! Let’s go out and…. do something!"
Colonialism sucks! No shit!
People know that colonialism is evil and destructive. But what is the alternative? The responsibility of the various organizations and individuals that claim to be pro-independence should be to educate and show the people that alternative.
Alternative schools. Co-ops. Health clinics. Independentista businesses. Community based and centered so that you can decentralize the government and people no longer feel they need it to survive. As they do now, and therefore support and vote for its survival. So come November when people go to vote in the first gubernatorial race since the assassination no surprises will occur. If people didn’t vote for PIP after they spearheaded the removal of the Navy from Vieques, I have no faith that they will now. Nor will this even be an issue of significance to voters on the island.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios.
But Filiberto lives!