Obama Frees Cuba-Backed Puerto Rican Terrorist 3

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011. (Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011.
(Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

Obama Commutes Sentence of F.A.L.N. Member Oscar Lopez Rivera

By CHRISTOPHER MELEJAN, New York Times

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a man convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to more than 100 bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.

The man, Oscar Lopez Rivera, was serving a 70-year sentence after being convicted of numerous charges, including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.

He was linked to the radical group known as the F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, and was one of more than a dozen group members convicted in the 1980s.

Under Mr. Obama’s commutation order, Mr. Lopez Rivera’s prison sentence will expire May 17. It was one of 209 grants of commutation by the president announced Tuesday.

The F.A.L.N., which waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico, was considered by the authorities to be among the most elusive and resilient terrorist groups to operate in the United States. Among its notable attacks was a bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 that killed four people.

The group was known for its tight-knit membership, fanatical zeal and hit-and-run tactics, as exemplified by the bombings of four government buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve in 1982 that seriously wounded three police officers.

Mr. Lopez Rivera was not specifically charged in the Fraunces Tavern bombing but more broadly with, among other things, the interstate transportation of firearms with the intent to commit violent crimes, and transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure people and to destroy government buildings and property.

President Bill Clinton offered Mr. Lopez Rivera and other members of the F.A.L.N. clemency in 1999, a decision that stirred an emotional debate. Mr. Clinton said their sentences were out of proportion with their offenses.

While 12 prisoners accepted the offer and were freed, Mr. Lopez Rivera rejected the chance to reduce his sentence because it did not include all of the group’s members, his lawyer, Jan Susler, said at the time. If he had accepted the agreement, she said, he would have been eligible for release in 2009.

Article continues here:  FALN  

Time for a New Puerto Rican Independence Movement 2

By Frank Worley-Lopez, The Canal [Blog of the PanAm Post]

My conversion from pro-statehood to pro-Puerto Rican independence has been a tough one. I’ve always considered myself more US American than Puerto Rican, always been pro-United States, and always been (and still am) a strong supporter of the idea of a constitutional republic with a bill of rights — and oh yeah, I’m a capitalist. My vision of independence for Puerto Rico is vastly different from the vision promoted by the Puerto Rico Independence Party.

It is not surprising then that I don’t have so many supporters.

Puerto Ricans in New York City celebrate their heritage. Source: NYC Parade Life.

This week my disdain for the current Puerto Rico independence movement received yet another boost when semi-retired PIP President Rubén Berríos Martínez proved once again to be the most important figure preventing any chance of independence. Berríos publicly supported the Venezuelan government in their fight against the evil fascist students who are demanding such horrid things as honest elections and freedom (perish the thought!).

I once interviewed Ruben in his then-Senate office, where he proudly talked of visiting Cuba and hugging Fidel Castro. While they swear they are not communists, but social democrats, the PIP has steadfastly supported the Cuban communist regime and the transition to communism by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

That really is not surprising when anecdotal (and historical) evidence suggests that the Puerto Rico nationalist movement and independence movement were actually organized with the help of the Cuban equivalent of the CIA. Nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios, who led the Macheteros (machete wielders) terrorist group was recruited by the Cuban Intelligence Service in 1961. If ever I had a fear in having switched sides from pro-statehood to pro-independence, it was that somehow I would be lumped in with the communist movement.

Read more here: Time for a New Puerto Rican Independence Movement

The Cuban Five Condemn Boston Attacks 2

Washington, Apr 22 (Prensa Latina) The five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly held in US prisons expressed their solidarity with the US people in the wake of bomb attacks occurred a week ago at the end of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding another 180. “With extreme consternation and sorrow we could see the images of the attacks in Boston, which caused the loss of lives of innocent people and considerable material damage,” says a message from Ramon Labanino released today on behalf of him and his four comrades Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, all known as The Cuban Five and given harsh sentences for monitoring anti-Cuban actions by Miami-based terrorist groups.

Labanino, sentenced to 30 years in prison, said that the Cuban people knows very well the terrible scourge of terrorism and “understands and supports the US people and feels their sorrow.” He said “it is time for all of us to unite and wipe out this terrible evil in our societies. We have always been and will always be against terrorism, all kind of terrorism.”

Editor’s Note: Cuba’s intelligence services have a long history of terrorist acts against the United States, from its failed “Black Friday” attack in New York City and continuing with the support of numerous US-based terrorist groups from the 1960s through the 1980s, for example, the Weather Underground Organization (WUO).

The most dangerous US terrorists sustained by Havana were two Puerto Rican terrorist groups; the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) and the Boricua Popular Army (EPB). In testimony before a US Senate subcommittee, Dr. Daniel James claimed that Havana’s Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI), working through Filiberto Ojeda Rios, created FALN in 1974.

From 1980-1986, Puerto Rican terrorists conducted 55% of all domestic terrorist acts in the US. By the time these groups ceased their terrorist activity and moved to non-violent activism, they had killed more Americans and destroyed more property than any international terrorists in US history, with the exception of Al Qaeda’s 1994 and 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

More recently, after 9/11, Cuba flooded US Embassies around the world with provocation agents whose mission was to degrade and disrupt US Intelligence efforts supporting the war on terror. Details can be found in the Sun-Sentinel article, “Embassy Walk-ins Were Cuba Spies Sent To Mislead U.S., Experts Say,” http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-10-20/news/0910190393_1_cuban-intelligence-cuba-experts-cuban-agents

Today in History: Terrorist-Supporting Spy Lectured at Loyola University Law School 1

March 2, 2001: America Area officer Fernando Miguel Garcia Bielsa, a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section, guest lectured at Loyola University Law School. Invited by the Los Angeles Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba, Garcia spoke on the Cuban economy and the domestic situation on the island. In 2002, he was publicly thanked – along with five other Intelligence Officers – by Council on Foreign Relations staffer Julia E. Sweig in her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground. Thrown out of the US during the massive May 2003 expulsions, Fernando Garcia Bielsa had worked closely with the two major Puerto Rican terrorist groups of the 1970s. He subsequently served as a First Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in the 1980s.

Editor’s Note: The America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA) was previously known as the America Department (DA). This service remains the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. As the “DA,” the spy service was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists. It has since become more focused on political intelligence operations.

Case Closed On Wells Fargo Robbery; Except For Missing $7 Million And Top Fugitive 2

By Edmund H. Mahony, emahony@courant.com, The Hartford Courant

When Norberto Gonzalez Claudio was sentenced to prison this month — older, grayer and as devoted as ever to Puerto Rico’s independence — it effectively closed the book on Connecticut’s greatest political crime, so far as a case can be closed when $7 million and the guy who stole it are missing. Gonzalez, now 67, was a leader of the doctrinaire young Puerto Rican militants called Los Macheteros who, in 1983 carried off what was then the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history. They stole the $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford and declared that they would use it to wage a war for independence against their colonial oppressor, the United States.

In the days after the robbery, Connecticut was transfixed by its audacity. An unremarkable Wells Fargo employee from Hartford named Victor Gerena had injected two co-workers with a substance intended to subdue them, stuffed $7 million in used bills into a rented Buick and disappeared into the night. Over the decades leading to Gonzalez’s capture last year in the Puerto Rican mountains, the U.S. listed Los Macheteros as a terrorist organization and blamed it and a related group for more death and destruction than any other terror network operating in the U.S. until al Qaeda struck New York in 1994 and 2001. The Macheteros killed two U.S. sailors, blew up eight National Guard jets and attacked two federal courthouses with Cuban supplied rockets, all in Puerto Rico. The related Armed Forces of National Liberation, known by the initials FALN, launched a bombing campaign against mainland targets, including Mobil Oil and the Fraunces Tavern in New York.

The Macheteros led the FBI on a chase around the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico to Mexico, Panama and Cuba, as the organization met to negotiate a division of the money and more guns with the government of their principal supporter and supplier, Cuban President Fidel Castro. The robbery confirmed a belief long held by FBI agents in the Caribbean that Castro had been training and supplying the militant wing of the independence movement since the 1960s.

The FBI was so alarmed by the robbery and related violence that the bureau sent a team to San Juan to end it. When the agents helped draft the first Wells Fargo indictment in 1985, they argued —unsuccessfully — to name senior Cuban government figures as conspirators. Although there was a sense of finality in the courtroom when Gonzalez was sentenced to five years in prison on Nov. 14, analysts say forces more powerful than the FBI had begun years earlier to push the violent, clandestine movement for Puerto Rico’s independence into the past. “I think the sentencing put a period at the end of things,” said Marlene Hunter, who was part of the FBI team that cracked the Wells Fargo robbery and who later retired as the head of the FBI’s San Juan division.

Puerto Rico is saturated by culture and commerce from the north, where more Puerto Ricans now live than on the island. An influential independence party exists and politicians who support the island’s current, territorial relationship with the U.S. swept the election earlier this month. But in an historic, if contentious, Election Day plebiscite, majorities of Puerto Ricans voted displeasure with their territorial status and support for becoming a state.

Story continues here:  http://articles.courant.com/2012-11-24/news/hc-macheteros-cuba-20121124_1_los-macheteros-fbi-s-san-juan-fbi-agents

Cuba-Supported Terrorist Pleads Guilty to 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery 1

Written by the FBI

New Haven, Connecticut – The United States Attorneys for the District of Connecticut and the District of Puerto Rico announced that Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio, 67, pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to federal charges related to his involvement in a 1983 armored truck robbery of approximately $7 million in West Hartford, Connecticut, and a separate charge of illegally possessing a machine gun at the time of his arrest in May 2011.

“After more than a quarter century on the run, this defendant has admitted his guilt to charges related a $7 million armored truck robbery,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I commend the FBI in Connecticut and Puerto Rico, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, for never resting in investigating this case and apprehending the remaining fugitives. Their combined efforts demonstrate the resolve of law enforcement in the pursuit of justice.”

“Today’s plea is the result of an investigation that has spanned nearly 30 years and underscores the FBI’s tireless pursuit of justice,” stated Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Connecticut. “The collaborative efforts of the FBI in San Juan and New Haven, and in all divisions of the FBI, will continue until all involved in the ‘Wells Fargo robbery’ are brought to justice.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, Gonzalez-Claudio conspired with others to rob approximately $7 million in cash from the Wells Fargo Armored Service Corporation in West Hartford and to transport the stolen money to Mexico. In pleading guilty, Gonzalez-Claudio acknowledged that he and other co-conspirators approved and authorized the robbery, which occurred on September 12, 1983.

Read the rest of the  story here:  Cuba Supported Terrorist Pleads Guilty to 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery