How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America 2

Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist leader Oscar López Rivera in Chicago, May 18. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

‘FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus . . . that received advanced training in Cuba.’

By Zach Dorfman, Wall Street Journal

The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National Freedom Hero.”

In response, major sponsors such as Goya, Coca-Cola , Univision, Jet Blue and the Yankees pulled their support. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill is refusing to march, as are several Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The wariness over López Rivera—who’ll still march, though he’s said he’ll forgo the “hero” designation—is well-founded. The group he helped lead, the pro-independence Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, or FALN, was one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of its time. Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the FALN perpetrated more than 130 bombings. It was responsible for the 1975 explosion at Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63; a bombing spree in New York City in August 1977 that killed one, injured six, and forced the evacuation of 100,000 office workers; and the purposeful targeting and maiming of four police officers, among many other vicious crimes.

Carnage on this scale was possible because of the FALN’s organizational and operational sophistication—including its numerous connections to communist Cuba and its intelligence services. Those connections have been known to law enforcement for decades.

According to court documents, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who is believed to have helped co-found the FALN, told an undercover NYPD officer in 1983 that he had received explosives training in Cuba. And the FBI estimated that by 1973, roughly 135 Puerto Rican militants had received “extensive instruction in guerilla war tactics, preparation of explosive artifacts, and sophisticated methods of sabotage” from Fidel Castro’s intelligence services.

The full extent of the FALN’s Cuba connections is unknown. But they may be more enduring than has been publicly reported. According to an NYPD document I discovered at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford—undated, but apparently circa 1977—by that time officials had come to believe that “the FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus of Puerto Rican terrorists that received advanced training in Cuba. . . . After their advanced training in Cuba they returned to Puerto Rico and a wave of bombings and incendiary incidents struck the [latter] island. Within the last few years they have shifted their activities to the mainland. . . . It is believed that they have maintained close links and may in fact work closely with Cuban intelligence operatives.”

Feature continues here: Cuban Support to Terrorists

 

 

New York City To Honor Cuban-Trained Puerto Rican Terrorist 3

Melisssa Mark-Viverito (center) leads a demonstration for freeing Oscar Lopez Rivera. (Photo by Robert Miller)

Puerto Rican Day Parade Honors The Terrorists Who Killed My Father

By Joseph Connor, New York Post

Officials last week announced plans to honor unrepentant terrorist leader Oscar Lopez Rivera as their first ever “National Freedom Hero” at this year’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 11.

The words “disgrace” and “outrage” do not come close to describing the insanity, insult and pain that honoring this terrorist thug brings to our family, the families of all FALN victims and all Americans. The idea is truly sickening.

New York City was the epicenter for the most horrific of the 120-plus bombings by Lopez’s Puerto Rican terrorist group, the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN). One of those bombings killed our 33-year-old father, Frank Connor, and three other innocent people.

Why would anyone in New York salute this man — particularly in the midst of our nation’s war on terrorists? Worse, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito chose to make this Alice-in-Wonderland announcement at One World Observatory, the very site of the most horrific terror attack in our nation’s history.

It’s also where my father’s godson, Steve Schlag, was murdered, along with 3,000 other civilians and the true hero first-responders. And where a threat by Lopez’s FALN prompted an evacuation of the World Trade Center in 1977.

And consider: Lopez refused President Bill Clinton’s 1999 clemency grant and chose to stay in prison rather than renounce violence. Yet President Barack Obama offered an unconditional second offer of clemency to Lopez just before leaving office. He’ll be freed next week.

Then the city in which our father was born, raised, worked and was murdered — a city bloodied by the most savage of all terrorist attacks on 9/11 — will play host to honoring him. What’s going on?

From 1974 to 1983, the FALN waged a merciless, bloody war against the United States, attacking civilians mainly in New York and Chicago. On Jan. 24, 1975, the FALN launched its most deadly attack, the infamous lunchtime bombing of Fraunces Tavern — murdering my father and three other innocent men. It was supposed to be the day we would celebrate my brother’s 11th birthday, and my 9th.

An FALN communique that day took credit for the attack, calling it a blow against “reactionary corporate executives.” In fact, my dad was born to immigrants and raised in working-class Washington Heights, very near where several of the FALN members were from.

In the early ’80s, 11 FALN members were arrested, tried and convicted of (among other serious felonies) weapons possession and seditious conspiracy. Lopez was convicted in 1981 and sentenced for crimes including seditious conspiracy, interference with interstate commerce by threats or violence, carrying firearms during the commission of those two crimes and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.

Feature continues here:  Cuban-Sponsored Terrorist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  

As U.S. And Cuba Explore a Renewal Of Diplomacy, What Becomes Of Victor Gerena, Other Notorious Fugitives? 2

(Courtesy:  Hartford Courant)

(Courtesy: Hartford Courant)

By Edmund H. Mahony, Hartford Courant

There is probably no one with a greater interest than Victor M. Gerena in the talks underway between the U.S. and Cuba about re-establishing diplomatic relations.

In 1983, he and other members of a group of Puerto Rican nationalists — a group armed, advised and financed by the Cuban government — stole $7 million from a West Hartford armored car depot in what was then the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history.

The Cubans sneaked Gerena into Mexico City. They stashed him in a safe house, lightened the color of his hair and gave him a phony diplomatic identity. Eventually, they put him and much of the money on a plane to Havana, where Gerena disappeared into the shadowy community of murderers, bombers, robbers and hijackers Cuba has sheltered from prosecution in the U.S and other countries since the 1960s.

For decades, the U.S. fugitives hiding in Cuba have been of little interest to anyone beyond a handful of journalists, law enforcement agencies and the families of their victims. But as President Obama presses an effort to reopen embassies and lift credit and trade restrictions, the fugitives have been discovered by critics and are emerging as a potential impediment to normalization.

Last week, Obama said he intends to remove Cuba from the government’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, effectively opening Havana to commercial lenders. Cuba has been on the list for 30 years, with Iran, Syria and Sudan. The last time the state department reviewed the list, in 2013, it decided against Cuba’s removal because of its continued willingness to provide safe haven to fugitives wanted on terror charges.

Congress has 45 days to challenge the decision to remove Cuba from the list and opponents were lining up last week within Congress and among law enforcement agencies, Cuban exiles and families of victims killed by fugitives who have lived comfortably in Cuba for decades

“In the midst of our global war on terrorism, simply put, how can Obama and this administration remove a state that sponsors terrorists from the State Sponsor of Terror list?” said Joseph Connor, whose father died in a 1975 bomb attack at Fraunces Tavern in New York by a Puerto Rican nationalist group supported by Cuba. “This action shows Obama’s utter disregard for Americans like my father, who was murdered by Castro’s clients and it tells the world we condone terrorism.”

Others want return of the fugitives to be a condition of normalization or, at a minimum, that the fugitives be used to leverage other concessions.

Article continues here:  Terrorist Victor Gerena

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

Today in History: Cuban-Supported Terrorists Stole $7 Million in Wells Fargo Heist Reply

September 12, 1983:  The Puerto Rican terrorist group known as the Ejército Popular Boricua (EPB) [Boricua Popular Army] conducted Operation White Eagle.  This assault on a Wells Fargo armored car terminal in Hartford, Connecticut, netted the EPB over seven million dollars.  After the robbery, Cuban Intelligence covertly sent most of the money and Victor Manuel Gerena – the robbery’s central figure, to Havana.  Gerena, a Hartford resident and Wells Fargo employee, escaped arrest, although two years later, 16 other EPB members were apprehended for their role in White Eagle.  The FBI said that the others were identified during the course of an estimated 2000 hours of wiretapped conversations, as well as by over 5000 photographs and videotapes generated by physical surveillance against terrorist operations in Puerto Rico.  The FBI said that 64 agents in Puerto Rico worked the wiretap portion of the operation.  Among those jailed were EPB leaders Juan Segarra Palmer and Filiberto Ojeda Rios, whom prosecutors said was a Cuban Intelligence agent.

Editor’s Note:  The EPB is also known as Los Macheteros (“the Machete Wielders”).

 

This Date in History: First US Government Official Convicted of Spying for Cuba 1

June 29, 2001:  Mariano M. Faget (pronounced fah-HAY) received a sentence of five years on espionage-related charges.  Originally arrested on February 17, 2000, Faget was one of the most senior Cuban-American officials in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  A 34-year federal employee, the FBI caught him in a sting operation codenamed FALSE BLUE.

Faget was the number three man in the INS’ Miami office and a supervisory district adjudication officer.  As such, he oversaw requests for political asylum and other naturalization decisions.  This allowed him to determine the fate of thousands of Cubans who escaped Cuba and applied for refuge in the US.  In addition, Faget had access to the immigration paroles of foreign citizens used as government informants. Ironically, he was just a few months from his Federal retirement when arrested.  US prosecutor Richard Gregorie said Faget was motivated by “money, information and access.”

In the course of its 15-month investigation, the FBI secretly surveilled Faget meeting with Cuban Intelligence Officers Luis Molina and later, Jose Imperatori.  An FBI Agent testified that Molina and Imperatori were “known Cuban intelligence officers. Two days after Faget’s arrest, the State Department ordered Imperatori’s expulsion.  In less than two weeks, senior America Department (DA) officer Fernando Garcia Bielsa arrived in Washington as Imperatori’s replacement.  The FBI and Senator Jesse Helms had originally opposed Garcia’s posting to the US, but were overruled by the Clinton administration.  According to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Garcia’s long-standing ties with Puerto Rican terrorists continued through at least 1998 when he met with Macheteros leaders in the island Commonwealth.

Released early, Faget left prison in September 2003.

Editor’s Note:  The America Department (DA) is the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).