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FBI raids homes of Puerto Rican pro-independence organizers

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Section: International News Geography: USA Topics: police

March 1, 2006

FBI raids homes of Puerto Rican pro-independence organizers

On Feb 20, 2006, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the homes of five pro-independence leaders in Puerto Rico. FBI agents were seen taking boxes and files from these homes and leaving them in disarray. Several of the leaders and members of their families were seized and detained.

According to a Worker's World report, FBI agents were confronted with a militant crowd chanting "asesinos!" (assassins) after leaving the house of Liliana Laboy, a Puerto Rican independence activist, whom they handcuffed and kept for questioning for three hours without allowing her access to her attorney. The chant was in reference to the FBI's murder last September of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a leader of the pro-independence group Los Macheteros (The Cane Cutters). Ojeda Rios, was killed at the age of 72 on September 23, 2005, when over 100 FBI gents surrounded his house and shot him, leaving him to bleed to death over the course of the following day. In Puerto Rico, September 23 commemorates an uprising against Spanish rule in 1868.

Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898, when the US seized it from Spain during the Spanish-American War. In 1917 the US congress granted Puerto Ricans citizenship so that they could be drafted for World War I. In 1952 Puerto Ricans were permitted to draft their own constitution, and from this they declared themselves a commonwealth. It was seen by some as a stepping-stone towards independence, and a euphemism for colonization to others.

Recently, US government agencies have targeted pro-independence groups. In addition to the five houses that were raided, the FBI also broke into the offices of The Ecumenical Committee for Community Economic Development, a non-profit community organization that works on the development of low-income housing. The president of The Ecumenical Committee, Reverend Jose Morales, and the coordinator for the committee, William Mohler, two pro-independence activists, also had their houses raided and ransacked.

In a press release, the FBI stated that the raids were carried out in order to prevent "potential terrorist attacks". More than 1,000 protesters marched in San Juan following the raids, chanting "Respect Puerto Rico!" and "FBI get out!", with demonstrators in New York City echoing the outcry.

Francesca Manning

» Wikipedia: Puerto Rico

» Associated Press: Anti-FBI protest in Puerto Rico

» People's Weekly World: FBI attacks journalists during Puerto Rico raids

» Worker's World: FBI raids homes of independentistas

» Democracy Now: FBI Raids Homes of Pro-Independence Activists in Puerto Rico

» WSWS.org: FBI murders Puerto Rican independence figure

» WSWS.org: FBI stages violent raids in Puerto Rico

» Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Congressmen seek investigation into FBI-press altercation

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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