Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was an Afro-Boricua scholar who devoted his entire life to compiling vast collections of writings and art documenting significant events in Black history. When Shcomburg was just 8 years old he was told by a school teacher that Black people had no history. This assertion naturally bothered him for a long time.
But as he gradually grew older, Schomburg found the teacher’s claim to make absolutely no sense. That encounter became Schomburg’s motivation which led him to set out and prove wrong such racist notions.
African chattel slavery also touched upon Puerto Rico, which became the consequence of Spanish colonialism in both Africa and Latin America.
Before moving to New York City, Schomburg was a member of the clandestine Revolutionary Committees of Puerto Rico. Years before Schomberg’s birth it organized an anti-slavery & pro-independence uprising in 1868 known as El Grito De Lares. Although that attempt to rid Puerto Rico of Spanish colonialism failed, the movement for independence continued to exist. Throughout his life Schomburg remained a firm advocate for Puerto Rico’s independence.
As the persecution of Black people in the United States intensified, with lynching and white racist riots presenting a dangerous and menacing setting, coupled by Schomburg’s childhood memory of a demeaning comment made to him by a school teacher, raised his commitment to the idea of affirming the validity and truth of Black history.
Ridiculing the racist fables about the origins and history of Black people became Schomburg’s central focus. His noble quest eventually proved indisputably the extent of white supremacy’s corruption and baseless reasoning for existing.
Once in New York City, and for the remainder of his life, Schomburg collected large amounts of materials relevant to the history of Africa and the African diaspora. His work unavoidably brought to light the falsehood of white historians who interpreted the history of human social development strictly from a European perspective, thus concealing what are the African people’s pivotal role in that process.
Schomburg’s scholarly work was indeed revolutionary; it was part of a historical countering trend in academic and scientific fields that exposed the hypocrisy of racist and anti-working class apologists for capitalism — such were adherents of Social-Darwinism, Eugenics, etc.
Schomburg became a prominent figure during the Harlem Renaissance. Along with famous figures like Langston Hughes this movement succeeded in challenging the ideological facets of white supremacy through the literary, visual and performing arts.
The collection of literature and art materials he compiled are permanently housed at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem. Arturo Alfonso Schomberg shall forever be remembered as a hero of the oppressed, by those who fight for Puerto Rico’s independence and by those engaged in the historical struggle for Black liberation.
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1958, the revolutionary guerilla army of the July 26 Movement, under the leadership of Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, entered the capital city of Havana, Cuba. This was the final act in the overthrow of the notorious U.S.-sponsored Fulgencio Batista regime.
The closer the guerilla army approached the city on foot, horseback and vehicles, the more frantic the oppressors of the Cuban people became. Their world of lavishness with cocktails drinks on hand was abruptly disrupted. Mafia gangsters, prostitution pimps, drug peddlers, casino club owners, operatives of the CIA and other imperialist agencies, high ranking military and police officials as well as top bureaucrats of Batista’s government, were all crowding Havana’s airport in a desparate rush to leave Cuba, to avoid capture by the revolutionaries.
This event marked the dawn of a new era in that country’s history which sent shock waves throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Cuban Revolution has had a tremendous impact on political circumstances in Latin America, the Caribbean and the entire world ever since.
Cuba has been a staunch advocate of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and has brought to light at the world arena the horrendous nature of the U.S. colonial presence; it provided political and logistical support to the Palestinian liberation struggle as well as sending thousands of Cuban troops to Africa in an effort to assist freedom fighters there in their quest. The most notable example of Cuba’s solidarity with Africa’s freedom struggle is the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. In a combined effort with the Angolan military the Cuban Army surrounded and smashed the racist apartheid South African Army.
Of the most notable of Cuba’s acts of humanitarianism is its creation of the Latin American School of Medicine. Students from poor and oppressed communities from the United States and Third World countries, who otherwise could not financially afford it, are provided with a free education to become medical doctors, paid for by the Cuban government.
And to demonstrate how serious the Cuban Revolution is about its own convictions and sense of humanity, many people in poor countries have received desperately needed medical attention for the first time thanks to Cuba’s well-known international medical program. Cuba has sent thousands of medical professionals to the poorest communities throughout the globe to heal and prevent deceases, even under the most dangerous circumstances.
Cuba has also provided a safe haven to many political refugees sought by the agencies of imperialism, like Puerto Rican freedom fighter William Morales and Black Panther sister Assata Shakur. Cuba has also been a firm supporter for the release of political prisoners in the U.S., like Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Justice now had a new meaning, defined by the revolutionary aspirations of the oppressed. Uniformed villains of the Batista military and police who once tortured, murdered and raped the people were rounded up and brought to face criminal charges. Tribunals were held throughout the country for all to witness and participate in a completely new form of justice — people’s justice — in which victims partook by providing testimony and in deciding the fate of these overthrown government officials.
Thanks to the Cuban Revolution the people were no longer deprived of free healthcare, free education, and access to food. Such are the vital necessities denied to the working poor here in the United States.
60 years have past and the Cuban people remain firm on defending their right to self-determination. They have been exemplary in their resilience in the face of repeated U.S. government attempts to undermine their sovereignty. These attempts include terrorist actions on Cuba’s tourist industry, CIA subversive attempts to incite counterrevolutionary activities within the country, 600 known attempts on the life of the late Fidel Castro Ruz, and a continuous economic blockade that still continues to this day.
Despite these acts of aggression and Washington’s 60 years propaganda war aimed to demonize the revolution, no one can deny Cuba’s achievements in eradicating illiteracy, advancements in medical science, food production & agriculture, housing development and the infrastructure.
Cuba’s revolutionary leadership has prioritized the needs of the people and continues to make good on its pledge never to allow foreign exploiters, oppressors and conquerors to return the country back to the suffering that once existed under the domination of the United States.
So as we celebrate the coming of the new year, we should salute the Cuban people on their glorious anniversary. And may the year 2019 bring us here in the United States a step closer to a world without exploitation, deprivation, oppression and racist violence.
It saddens me to announce that on the evening of Monday, December 10, 2018, long time revolutionary activist Andy McInerney passed away after losing a long battle with cancer. As if it wasn’t enough losing my sweetheart & love of my life, Ana Lopez Betancourt, in the month of May 2018, I now grieve another major loss, my very best friend, brother and comrade, Andy McInerney.
Andy was a professor at Bronx Community College in New York. He will surely be missed by the many whom he taught as well as his colleagues who partook in struggles for bettering college level education and for increasing the benefits and salaries of professors.
Andy was a communist. He was always fascinated when learning about the liberation struggles of oppressed people. He was adamant about white progressives today requiring to have the same disposition John Brown once had against African chattel slavery, if they sincierely claim being anti-racist. I always had respect for Andy, since I envisioned him fighting alongside John Brown if he were to live during the 1859 attack on Harpers Ferry.
As a person of white origin himself, Andy was critical of white leftists who tended to show inconsistencies of conviction, by being soft and evasive of criticizing white privilege and white entitlement. He viewed that kind of behavior unforgiving and a not-so-hidden expression of white supremacist ideology.
Andy and I became good friends during our mutual experience in Workers World Party and in the Party for Socialism & Liberation. It was in our experiences in these entities where our collaboration first grew to the finest pitch, which later on continued.
Wherever Andy found himself, whether organizing events on campus or mobilizing for mass demonstrations, he always sought ways to promote and apply Marxist-Leninist theory. He recognized that his moral obligation was to build in the present in preparation for the future battle for socialism in the United States.
Andy was indeed a revolutionary who also contributed to my own political development. In 1991 when I first met him the world revolutionary movement went into disarray, resulting from the impact the collapse of the Soviet Union was having everywhere.
He was an optimist, even under dim circumstances. He always told me that the collapse of the Soviet Union was only a temporary victory for imperialism and that we should maintain our course in building for revolution in this country regardless.
Andy understood that throughout history such phenomenon also occurred with other social & economic systems. It was Andy who told me “not to worry” and enlightened me to how the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France was equivalent to the restoration of capitalism in Russia. Bonaparte restored the political power of the monarchy that was defeated by the 1789 French Revolution.
Andy was of Irish descent. He demonstrated the utmost respect to me when he discovered that I was a Young Lord and a Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalist. In our exchanges we strengthened each other’s understanding of the Irish-Puerto Rican connection. It was Andy who first made me aware that Irish revolutionary James Connolly had asked Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos to draw up a draft for the Constitution of a free Irish republic.
There is much more that can be said about Andy McInerney. He touched the hearts of so many people. His greatest trait which describes his finest qualities as a human being was his incredible love and respect for teaching and learning, a fundamental requirement for what it takes to be a revolutionary. Andy’s disposition came with an eagerness to learn and pass the knowledge on to others.
I will miss you my dear brother and comrade, Andy McInerney. You were always there for me during the thick and thin. There is much about you that I will cherish and feel honored that you were in my life. And above all, I shall eternally be grateful to you for helping me strengthen my resolve to keep fighting until this social system of oppression is finally smashed by the will of the vast majority of oppressed and exploited people.
The wave of repression unleashed on the Black liberation movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s by the FBI’s “Operation COINTELPRO” reached its height with a series of murderous attacks on the Black Panther Party. One of the most horrendous episodes of this onslaught took place on Dec. 4, 1969, when Black Panther Party figures Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated by police.
In a coordinated effort between the Illinois State Attorney’s Office, Cook County Police Department, the Chicago Police Department and the FBI, a heavily armed assault was launched in the early morning hours on Fred Hampton’s residence. With a vicious sense of racist hatred and no regard for human life, the police fired their weapons at will through a wall separating the hallway from the apartment. The two revolutionaries were killed.
In the days that followed, law enforcement officials were quick to reinvent the facts. They claimed that the occupants of the apartment fired guns at police. Their story never held water. Evidence gathered from the forensic investigation and other inquiries pointed exclusively to police savagery in the attack.
The shaping of a leader
Hampton’s life was brief, but was rich in struggle.
Hampton was born in Chicago on Aug. 30, 1948. His parents originated from Hayneville, La., where sharecropping and racial injustice were common. His great-grandparents had worked on a plantation in that region under the horrors of slavery.
Like millions of African Americans, Hampton’s parents left the South during the Great Migration of the 1930’s to look for a better life and flee the constant threat of racist terror. They settled in Maywood, Ill., a suburb of Chicago where they worked at the Argo Starch Company.
Hampton was attracted to books, and took it upon himself to read the speeches and writings of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Joan Elbert, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others. He gained a reputation for his knowledge of Black history and began to sense the need for struggle.
As a student at Proviso East High School, he noticed that most of the students who failed were Black. Hampton began to speak out against the school administration for not providing tutoring and remedial programs for students. He was also critical of the fact that the faculty and administration were all white when one-fourth of the student body was Black.
Hampton challenged the school’s exclusive racist practice of nominating only white girls to compete for “Miss Homecoming Queen.” He organized a protest, walk-out and school boycott. As a result, the following year Black female students were included in this contest.
Fred Hampton was respected by white and Black students alike. The year after he graduated from Proviso East, a school administrator requested his help to calm racial tensions among students.
An event that likely affected the young Fred Hampton, much as it affected most of Chicago’s Black community, was the 1955 gruesome lynching of Emmett Till. The 14-year-old Till was visiting family in Mississippi when he was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till was the son of family friends and neighbors of the Hamptons.
At Triton Junior College, he studied law as a defense against police brutality aimed at the Black community. He joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and became the leader of its youth council at the West suburban branch, galvanizing a membership of 500.
While Hampton was in the NAACP, the Black Panther Party was opening chapters across the country and becoming a prominent force in the Black liberation struggle. Hampton began to absorb and understand the revolutionary content of the Panthers’ political perspective, and joined. He soon demonstrated his leadership abilities and became deputy chairman of the party’s Illinois chapter.
His disposition and skills as a speaker earned Hampton a moral authority. His political achievements included brokering peace with the supposed “street gangs” of Chicago, amongst them the Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. Hampton was instrumental in transforming the Young Lords into a revolutionary political organization.
The white, racist U.S. ruling class was appalled. How dare the descendents of African slaves call themselves socialists and aim to achieve Black people’s right to reparations! Even more daring was the Black Panther Party’s call for the overthrow of capitalism—a demand the ruling class could never tolerate. Their ability to forge unity in struggle was a threat in itself.
All this was happening while resentment for the war in Vietnam was on the rise. The men of privilege and wealth, with a stake in preserving the imperialist system, grew apprehensive the more it became apparent that a mass revolutionary movement was arising.
Hampton valued the need for a multinational revolutionary struggle, and organized the original Rainbow Coalition comprised of the I Wor Kuen of the Asian community, the Brown Berets of the Mexican community, the poor white workers of the Young Patriots, the Young Lords and the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party set standards for waging struggle. Their enthusiastic projection of socialism allowed many to envision its relevance to African Americans and other oppressed nationalities.
Operation COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, was established in the mid-1950’s to deter the development of any movement deemed a threat to the existing social, economic and political order. It remained secret until 1971, when anti-repression activists broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pa., and confiscated files revealing the hidden operation.
As the Civil Rights movement advanced—galvanizing strength from all sectors of the population, breaking the despicable Jim Crow laws and compelling the U.S. Congress to pass other progressive legislation—the FBI increasingly turned its attention to the Black liberation struggle.
The slanderous editorials against the Panthers in the capitalist-owned mass media, combined with Hoover’s frequent verbal attacks, reflected the wishes of the ruling class who sought the complete destruction of the Black Panther Party and the ideals it embodied. Internal FBI memos show that the government had a special interest in Hampton’s political activities and his associations; Chicago police were encouraged by the FBI to find a way to lock up Hampton.
These circumstances compelled the government to destroy the Black Panther Party.
“The greatest threat to national security”
The Black Panther Party openly advocated for socialist revolution, and openly supported the Chinese and Cuban revolutions. The Panthers’ breakfast program for children, among other social programs, underlined their commitment to meet the needs of communities that received nothing but oppression and neglect from the government.
Prior to Hampton’s death, police raided the Panthers’ Chicago office on three separate occasions. William O’Neal, Fred Hampton’s bodyguard, was a police informant who was instructed to draw up a floor plan of the targeted apartment weeks earlier. Law enforcement used the information gathered by O’Neal to murder Hampton.
The staunch anti-capitalist stance of these young revolutionaries who declared themselves Marxist-Leninists made them the target of the most ruthless, racist elements in power. On numerous occasions, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover expressed a special disdain for the Black struggle, particularly towards Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Many were not surprised when Hoover declared the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to national security.”
Hampton’s murder was part of a pattern of police raids, false imprisonment and executions of Black Panthers. COINTELPRO documents proved that assassination of Black leaders was among its aims. Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party had to be eliminated simply because they had touched upon capitalism’s greatest weakness—the decisiveness and strength that a multi-national movement has in a battle against this system.
The Black Panther Party arose from the struggles of the African American people, historically the most oppressed and exploited group in the United States. They symbolized hope and received the greatest affection. They attributed Black oppression to the capitalist system, and dared to pick up arms against the state. The militancy and defiance of these young revolutionaries deeply impacted the Civil Rights and socialist movements.
Hampton and the Black Panthers believed all would benefit if the banner of the struggle against racism and national oppression was taken up by the white masses as their own. Hampton knew that it was possible to smash the racial barriers created by capitalism to divide and conquer the working class. His confidence was based on the strong belief that this system provides the motivation for all to unite and engage in revolutionary struggle.
Long live the memory of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark!
The U.S. military reflects the racism of the U.S. capitalist system.
African Americans’ role in the military during the Civil War was wholly progressive. Indeed, Black soldiers had a vital stake in smashing the hideous system of slavery.
While President Abraham Lincoln often expressed his indifference to the issue of emancipation, he was forced to recognize the absolute necessity of arming African Americans.
Black soldiers soon became feared by the Southern slavocracy. Their tenacity, skill and valor proved decisive to the North winning the Civil War.
For instance, when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was sent to fight Gen. Robert E. Lee’s military forces in Virginia, he requested Black regiments as his principal troops.
Then there was Harriet Tubman. A former slave, she became an intelligence officer for the Union Army, operating behind enemy lines.
Tubman’s courage made possible the capture of Confederate garrisons–and the famous “Underground Railroad” she organized led to the liberation of hundreds of slaves.
All told, 200,000 African Americans served in the Army and Navy during the Civil War. Thirty thousand died in combat.
The Civil War was the last time Black people had a positive stake in a U.S. war’s outcome. After they were betrayed during Reconstruction, the African American people were further undermined and impoverished when the South was overrun by capital investments in manufacturing, lumber and agriculture. Then capital cast its eyes abroad. The Monroe Doctrine had already reserved all of Latin America to be exploited exclusively by U.S. capitalists.
The mysterious explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana on Feb. 18, 1898, served as an excuse for Washington to declare war on Spain. The U.S. invaded the Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, colonizing them anew, this time under U.S. control.
Many Black soldiers played a military role this time, too- -but on a different side.
RESISTING THE U.S. ARMED INVASION
In 1899 under the leadership of Aguinaldo, the Filipino people furiously fought the new invaders. They inflicted many casualties on the U.S. Army, which claimed to be “helping the people’s quest for freedom.”
The U.S. government retaliated by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Filipino women, men and children.
This genocide was not passively accepted inside the United States, as mainstream historians contend. For example, the Anti-Imperialist League held mass protests in major cities throughout the country.
Significant anti-war sentiment was also expressed widely in Black communities. The Black press as well as other representatives of the African American people vigorously denounced the war. The great historian and African American leader W.E.B. Du Bois played a notable role in this movement.
Most important, Black resistance surfaced inside the U.S. military. Four Black regiments sent to fight in the Philippines established a bond with the Native people there, who also were dark-skinned. These Black troops resented white officers and soldiers describing Filpinos with the same racist slurs applied to African Americans in the United States.
Filipino insurgents appealed to Black soldiers not to fight on the side of imperialism. Posters denouncing racist lynchings in the United States were placed throughout the islands.
This political agitation helped lead to many Black troops deserting the U.S. military.
Some of these African Americans went over to the other side, joining the Filipino guerrilla fighters.
The most notable was David Fagan, formerly of the 24th Infantry Division. The Filipino freedom fighters so respected Fagan that he was made a commander in their army.
David Fagan’s example demonstrates how unity is possible. This is a highly relevant lesson today. Once unity among the working classes and peasant farmers of all nationalities can be established, it lays the basis for overthrowing the tyrannical reign of U.S. imperialism–and preventing another 120 years of terror.
Since the earliest human societies, people have used animal images to express their beliefs. Painting animals on pottery, garments and cave walls arose from ritual notions about the power of this imagery.
With the development of class society, animal symbols took on new meaning. Animal characteristics have been interpreted in folklore to explain the miserable reality of the poor or to justify social privileges for wealthy rulers.
Leading capitalists like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie promoted Herbert Spencer’s “social Darwinism” during the rise of imperialism. This “theory” described the exploited and oppressed as “weaker species”, etc.
On the other hand, the predatory bald eagle was chosen to glorify a government that sanctioned genocide and chattel slavery.
But the oppressed have also used symbols-in this case to express their resistance. One famous example is “the two wings of the same bird” concept. This metaphor was created by the legendary Puerto Rican revolutionary poet Lola Rodriguez De Tio and later on was put into musical rendition by Cuban poet and revolutionary leader Jose Marti. It was used to describe the historical relationship of solidarity between Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Since some of the most beautiful birds in the world inhabit the Caribbean, it was easy for Lola Rodriguez De Tio and Jose Marti to use this life form as poetic symbolism. The “bird” they described is made up of the island countries of the Greater Antilles-the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, with Cuba and Puerto Rico on opposite ends in the region functioning as wings.
Both Lola Rodriguez De Tio and Jose Marti were internationalists. They identified with all anti-colonial struggles. They both had a special affection for each other’s country, which shared a common suffering under brutal Spanish tyranny.
De Tio and Marti expressed a revolutionary tradition in poetic form. In the early 1860s revolutionaries from both countries secretly met in a hotel on Broome Street in New York City to form the Society for the Independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Members of this group helped facilitate the 1868 “El Grito De Lares” uprising. Under the leadership of Ramon Emeterio Betances, African slaves, workers and peasants fought this battle. When their attempt at independence failed, hundreds of Puerto Rican rebels went to Cuba to continue the fight against Spanish colonialism.
Caribbean people fight for Cuba’s and Puerto Rico’s freedom
Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans and Puerto Ricans were among the insurgents who fought in El Grito De Lares and Cuba’s El Grito De Yara, both in 1868. This inspired Jose Marti to preserve the use of the “two wings” metaphor.
Marti recognized the threat a rising U.S. imperialist power would pose to the Caribbean peoples. His wish for a united Caribbean federation was based on a calculated necessity. Familiar with the atrocities the U.S. rulers committed against the oppressed at home, Marti knew he could expect no better treatment from the United States than from Spain.
In 1895 Cuban revolutionaries launched a war for independence. They were gaining the upper hand in the war against Spain. But in 1898 their efforts were interrupted when the United States invaded Cuba, Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
Two years later on March 24, 1897 Puerto Ricans attempted once again to use force in their quest for freedom at the uprising known as “Intentona de Yauco.”
Jose Marti died in 1895. He never saw his wish for a free Cuba in a Caribbean federation come true.
But thanks to the 1959 Cuban Revolution, his ideals remain alive today. Although Puerto Rico and Cuba live under opposite social systems, there is still solidarity between the peoples of the “two wings.”
Cuba’s revolutionary government has officially recognized Puerto Rico’s independence struggle. It even established an “Office of Puerto Rico.”
Cuba has also given political asylum to Puerto Rican anti-colonial fighters sought by the U.S. government. At the United Nations, Cuba has fought for world recognition of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and self-determination.
Many Puerto Ricans return this solidarity by continuing to break the criminal U.S. blockade against Cuba, traveling there from Puerto Rico itself. For decades these anti-colonialists travel back and forth to Cuba.
In 1997 renowned Puerto Rican Salsa musician Andy Montanez invited Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez to perform in Puerto Rico. When right-wing Cuban exile singer Celia Cruz objected, many in Puerto Rico, including radio disk jockeys, prepared to launch a boycott of Cruz’s music.
Those people in San Juan who proudly acknowledge the “two wings” tradition greeted Silvio Rodriguez’s performance with cheers.
The oppressed peoples’ drive to unite and maintain such traditions in their common struggle is a vital weapon to end U.S. imperialism’s rule. No country in the world has remained committed and firm in their solidarity to Puerto Rico’s struggle for national liberation than Cuba.
Forty years ago, on July 25, 1978, Puerto Rican police assassinated two young pro-independence activists. This brutal and blatant murder, known as the Cerro Maravilla murders, exposed for the world to see the violence with which U.S. imperialism keeps Puerto Rico in chains to this day.
The controversy and the cover-up that followed were like none other in Puerto Rico’s political history. It involved government officials at the highest level, top police brass as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department.
Arnaldo Darío Rosado, 24, and Carlos Soto Arriví, 18, had been involved in pro-independence groups before. Inspired by the heroes of independence who championed the liberation of the homeland from U.S. rule by any means necessary, they joined the Armed Revolutionary Movement (MRA). The MRA had no experience in such matters, it never carried out any military actions in the past.
Arnaldo Darío Rosado and Carlos Soto Arriví
A police agent, Alejandro González Malavé, infiltrated the group. He recruited Darío and Soto to set fire to a communications tower on the mountain named Cerro Maravilla. The act was supposed to protest the imprisonment of Oscar Collazo (imprisoned for the 1950 armed attack on U.S. President Harry Truman) and Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores, and Andres Figueroa Cordero (imprisoned for a 1954 armed attack on the U.S. Congress).
By 1978, the freedom of these political prisoners was a campaign of paramount importance, both to the pro-independence movement in Puerto Rico and to human rights advocates around the world. In fact, it was a frequently mentioned issue in news outlets throughout the world and at United Nations Organization discussions on decolonization.
It was a clever manipulative tactic by the Puerto Rico Police. First and foremost, July 25th is the date of the U.S. military invasion in 1898. And because Arnaldo and Carlos were highly devoted to the cause for Puerto Rico’s independence but were too inexperienced to detect how they were being lured into a trap, it was easy for the police to lead them to their deaths.
COLONIAL POLICE MURDER ARNALDO & CARLOS
On the evening of July 25, 1978, the three forced taxi driver Julio Ortiz Molina to drive them to the communications tower at the top of the mountain in Cerro Maravilla.
Once the vehicle arrived at the location, heavily armed police opened fire on the cab. Darío and Soto shouted, “Don’t shoot, we surrender,” according to well-documented testimony. The two were dragged out of the car, savagely beaten then forced to kneel. They were then shot, execution style.
Cops who testified during the investigation disclosed that several hours before the murders, officers assigned to the sting were ordered by Col. Angel Perez Casillas, commander of the Intelligence Division, that, “These terrorists should not come down (from the mountain) alive.”
Eyewitness accounts confirmed what many in the independence movement had all along asserted. The assassination of the two independence activists was a political statement on the part of the colonial Puerto Rico Police.
Then Governor of Puerto Rico, Carlos Romero Barcelo, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, immediately hailed the cops as heroes.
Pretentious investigations were conducted by the colonial government, as well as by the FBI and the Justice Department, but only to assist in a systematic cover-up motivated by the already existing colonial setting in Puerto Rico.
In the aftermath of the killings, every agency involved in the investigation was quick to exonerate the killer cops and demonize the two victims, and for clear-cut and well-defined reasons. The Puerto Rico Police exists as the principle enforcer of U.S. colonial policy.
Historically, every political repressive act by the U.S. rulers involved the complicity of the Puerto Rico Police. It has served as the pit bull of U.S. agencies, most especially the FBI; dating back to the attacks on Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, the Nationalist Party and the brutal Rio Piedras and the Ponce Massacres.
This specially trained armed attachment of U.S. colonialism is perhaps one of the most sophisticated apparatuses of law enforcement in all 50 states and occupied territories. It is defined by colonial law as a “quasi-military” organization which is granted assistance by the National Guard, in everything involved to the work of a “civilian” police force.
TYRANTS ARE NOT INVINCIBLE. POLITICAL ADVANTAGE CAN SHIFT
Regardless of differences in political beliefs, widespread indignation to these murders came from all sectors of the population. A momentum grew to such a degree of pressure that it caused a political crisis for the U.S. colonizers in Puerto Rico.
On April 29, 1986, undercover cop/provocateur Alejandro González Malavé was assassinated in front of his mother’s house in Bayamón. He was shot three times by a group identifying itself as the “Volunteer Organization for the Revolution.” Boricuas in Puerto Rico and the diaspora applauded his death and viewed it as a well deserved act of justice.
The FBI considered this group “one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the United States.” On December 3, 1979 the V.O.R. claimed responsibility for an attack on a U.S. Navy bus in Puerto Rico in which two Navy personnel were killed and 10 injured, and the destruction of 6 jet fighters at a National Guard base on January 12, 1981.
In the end, eight police officers were convicted and given prison sentences, ranging from 6 to 30 years. But these prison sentences were merely a concession made by the colonial court to ease the mounting outcry for justice. The greatest concern Washington officials have always had about it’s stranglehold on Puerto Rico is the everlasting potential for mass rebellion.
Protest demonstrations occurred everywhere in Puerto Rico and the diaspora, demanding justice for Arnaldo and Carlos. News of the details surrounding this case reached global attention and pointed to the inhumanity of the U.S. presence and domination in Puerto Rico.
The Cerro Maravilla murders were not the first lives to be taken away from brave men and women who fought for independence and loved their homeland. Nor will the threat be gone of future incidents like Cerro Maravilla in 1978, so long as U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico continues to exist. It is the armed agencies of U.S. colonialism who have repeatedly proven to be the real terrorists.
No matter where, when or how the decisive battles for Puerto Rican national liberation may ensue, it shall certainly be a contribution to the worldwide defeat of U.S. imperialism. The murders of Arnaldo Darío Rosado and Carlos Soto Arriví will most definitely serve as reason to condemn and bring about the demise of this vile system.
Arnaldo Darío Rosado & Carlos Soto Arriví – PRESENTE!