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Boricua Popular Army

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Ejército Popular Boricua – Macheteros
LeadersFiliberto Ojeda Ríos  
Comandante Guasábara
Juan Enrique Segarra-Palmer
Orlando González Claudio
Dates of operation1976–present
Active regionsPuerto Rico, United States
IdeologyPuerto Rican independence
Left-wing nationalism
OpponentsUnited States United States

The Ejército Popular Boricua ("Boricua Popular/People's Army"), also known as Los Macheteros ("The Machete Wielders"), is a clandestine organization based in Puerto Rico, with cells in the states and other nations.[1] It campaigns for, and supports, the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States.

During their first decade of existence, they had an average of two actions per year.[2] The group claimed responsibility for the 1978 bombing of a small power station in the San Juan area, the 1979 retaliation attacks against the United States armed forces personnel, the 1981 Muñiz Air National Guard Base attack, and a 1983 Wells Fargo bank robbery.

Boricua Popular Army was led primarily by former FBI fugitive Filiberto Ojeda Ríos until his killing by the FBI in 2005. Ojeda Rios' killing was termed "an illegal killing" by the Government of Puerto Rico's Comisión de Derechos Civiles (Civil Rights Commission) after a seven-year investigation and a 227-page report issued on 22 September 2011.[3][4]

Ideology and operation[]

Political stance[]

In a training manual dated March 21, 1995, the EPB argued that "in the past the people struggled against injustice without being able to identify the central maladies from which they originated", but that "thanks to [the advent] of Marxism now allowed [them] to identify the origin and reason [behind them]."[5] This assertion would later be quoted when explaining the organization's strategy of "scientific Marxism", which they established as the main basis for their martial methodology.[5] Ojeda Ríos' main thesis states that the 1898 invasion by the United States represented "meddling in the struggle" that the people "had been waging against Spanish colonialism for 400 years".[6]

The name Machetero was symbolically adopted from an impromptu band of Puerto Ricans who assembled to defend the island of Puerto Rico from the invading forces of the United States Army during the Spanish–American War, between July 26 and August 12, 1898. Macheteros de Puerto Rico were dispatched throughout the island, working in cooperation with other voluntary groups including the Guardias de la Paz in Yauco and Tiradores de Altura in San Juan.[7] These voluntary units were involved in most of the battles in the Puerto Rican Campaign. Their last involvement was in the Battle of Asomante, where along with units led by Captain Hernaíz, defended Aibonito Pass from invading units.[8] The allied offensive was effective, prompting a retreat order from the American side.[9] However, the following morning the signing of the Treaty of Paris was made public. Subsequently, both Spanish and Puerto Rican soldiers and volunteers disengaged and Puerto Rico was annexed by the United States.[9]


As established in the EPB's "Organization of the EPB", the organization operates in a systemic and hierarchic structure.[10] The entire organization is overseen by a central committee, which is generally focused on politics and policies.[11] Beneath it lies a military commission, which in turn is divided by sub commissions specialized in finances, intelligence, transportation, provisions and general services and others as needed.[12] Each commando receives additional salary, with specific exemptions being given to marriages, unemployed individuals and those with dependents.[13] In December 1981, the EPB included benefits similar to those in the American military.[13] The organization agreed to medical services and college education pending commission approval.[13] New recruits may be covertly trained in rural farms or in foreign countries (Cuba being an example) and inconspicuous businesses may be used to provide cover to certain individuals.[14] Training includes skills such as lock picking, handling firearms and explosives, forging documents, scuba diving, photography, concealment using makeup and forging license plates.[15] An exercise regime is expected from commandoes afterwards.[16] Meeting are kept to a minimum and only held when relevant.[16]


The basic units are the "combat units", composed of five foot soldiers that are led by a leader with ties to the political branch.[10] Their weapons and munitions are arbitrarily divided by type: short weapons, semi automatic weapons, rifles and shotguns are present in each unit to ensure balance.[10] A car was also provided and used both for meetings and in incursions without attracting attention.[10] Units in turn subscribe to specific 17-men cells, with three of the unit leaders forming the hierarchy along a pair of political and military leaders.[12] These cells generally aim to have equipment that is comparable to the American military or law enforcement agencies.[12] Additional support cells include trained medical personnel and are mostly in charge of logistics, maintenance, vehicles, equipment and media.[12] Cells form 73-men formations in charge of a political member, which are assigned to specific districts and are generally independent of each other.[12] The EPB usually plans in advance and establishes networks in places of interest, such as those in New York, Boston, Illinois, Texas and Connecticut used in the Wells Fargo heist of 1983.[17]


Upon its beginnings, the group attracted a variety of Puerto Rican independence supporters, including some of the members of the University Pro-Independence Federation of Puerto Rico (FUPI) and the Pro-Independence Movement.[18] For the most part, individuals affiliated with the EPB are expected to merge into general society and be as inconspicuous as possible, usually holding civilian jobs or studying, some receiving training within the United States military.[11] In 2006, professor Michael González Cruz published his book Nacionalismo Revolucionario Puertorriqueño a calculation that placed the active EPB members at approximately 5,700, with an additional unknown number of supporters, sympathizers, collaborators and informants throughout the U.S. and other countries. A report by The Economist estimated the number of active members to be around 1,100, excluding supporters.[19]


The group intentionally avoids any area where crime rates could result in frequent law enforcement interventions and commandos are instructed to be polite and are warned to stay away from illegal activities; association or deals with criminal organizations are prohibited.[20] In keeping a discipline code, the organization also discourages the use of alcohol and prohibits the use of drugs.[21] The EPB attempts to stay away from areas where other nationalist groups are based in order to avoid attention.[20] There also settle away from military of police stations.[20] Meetings are generally held in places with good reputation and in buildings that offer several access points, with heavy precautions being taken to reach their locations untailed.[20] If different units are meeting, commandoes are instructed to place hoods or masks and use codenames in order to protect their identities, both to accomplish plausible denial and to root out any law enforcement plant.[20] Information is segregated between groups and only shared in limited detail, when necessary.[20] Incriminating or detailed documents or any other evidence is to be destroyed once the potential of a law enforcement intervention is apparent.[20] While involved in a particular mission, the EPB commandoes regularly assume a faux name, but they usually use this to acquire legitimate documents and select a nondescript address in which to receive mail in a fashion that prevents surveillance, such a P.O. Box or a decoy address where mail is delivered to the community in general.[15] Even ammunitions were given codes such as Manteca for firearms or Libretas for explosives to conceal their nature.[15] Armories were specifically retrofitted to preserve the condition and to prepare new ammunition as needed.[22] Funds are managed strictly and reports are constant in order to keep a balanced budget.[22]


Early actions[]

The EPB was founded by Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, Juan Enrique Segarra-Palmer and Orlando González Claudio on July 26, 1976, with the date being symbolically used as a reminder of the United States invasion during the Spanish–American War.[23] It can trace its origins back to the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN).[18]

Their first communiqué was published on August 25, 1978, following an attack on two policemen that concluded with officer Julio Rodríguez Rivera dead in retaliation for the Cerro Maravilla murders.[2] The federal government claimed the incident was an attempt to steal his police car.[24] On October 2, 1978, the EPB and Volunteers infiltrated an armory and took 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate, dynamite cartridges, 988 blasting caps and 17,500 feet of primacord.[25] In September 1979, the EPB revealed that it was working in conjunction with the Volunteers, FARP and FALN.[25]

Following the murder of Negociado de Investigaciones Criminales (NIC) officer Néstor Rivas, an anonymous caller contacted the media and after identifying himself as a member of the EBP, took responsibility for the act.[26] This information became widespread throughout news outlets and in printed press.[26] On January 1, 1979, the organization distanced itself from this crime in a press release and speculated that the anonymous informant may have been involved in a counter-intelligence operation of the FBI or the CIA claiming that they had done so "hundreds of times" before, also involving "intelligence sectors" within the police itself.[26] Locally, the organization cited an FBI report that explained how the agency had sent several letters with the intention of affecting the image of pro-independence leaders, while also citing the books of Phillip Agee y Wolf to illustrate similar practices in other locations.[26] The EBP closed this communique by stating killing policemen was not a policy of the group, and "that if one was to fall, it would be while he was directly interfering" with their goals.[26] The organization then reviewed the method that was used to communicate with the media, stating that all calls were to be followed by an official statement with a password being provided as authentication, and that only journalists that were known not share their sources would be contacted.[26] Later that month, the group issued a statement supporting inhabitants of the island municipality of Vieques, who were involved in a campaign to stop military operations of the United States Navy there.[27] The EBP offered its support on behalf of several clandestine organizations and predicted that they would be traveling to Vieques in a near future.[27]

During the morning hours (approx. 1:00 a.m.) of October 1, 1979, two combat units of the EPB in collaboration with Organización de Voluntarils por la Revolución Puertorriqueña (OVRP) members infiltrated an armory located in the Puerto Rico Highway 2 near the municipality of Manatí.[28] After avoiding security, the groups extracted five hundred pounds of ammonium nitrate, fifty-two dynamite sticks, one hundred and twelve iremite sticks, close to a thousand detonators and 17,500 feet of detonating cord.[28] Later that day, the organizations released two press releases where they emphasized that no side suffered any casualty, stating their stance that "as a revolutionary army, [they would] respect the lives of anyone that is judged to be a victim of the system" as well as that "of those enemies that surrender or are taken as prisoners."[28] Citing these policies to establish a contrast with the manner in which the Romero administration handled the Cerro Maravilla murders and to criticize government downsizing, the EPB also warned that "[they] will be implacable" against anyone that "exploits and betrays" them or that serves as an obstacle to their goals.[28] Later that month, during the commemoration of the Jayuya Uprising, the group published a draft notice where they claimed that it was "not just another political-military organization", but "a military structure being formed" and warned that they intended to act "in military fashion [and] guided by the laws of war".[29] Noting their willingness to take their conflict "to the final consequences, the group emphasized that it was "not playing war".[29] Directly identifying the United States "and its collaborators" as their enemy, the EBP stated that "despite treating the public with the upmost responsibility", their sworn enemy would be subjected to trial and if necessary executed.[29] After further distancing themselves from the modus operandi other revolutionary movement, the organization urged potential draftees to "earn physical conditioning" and opened the door to less militant individuals to take a place within their combat units.[29] On October 17, 1979, the groups execute eight bombings against federal buildings.[25]

On December 3, 1979, a bus carrying 18 American Navy sailors to Naval Security Group Activity Sabana Seca, was forced to stop by a delivery truck.[30] Shortly afterwards, four men appeared from within another vehicle and opened fire, killing CTO1 John R. Ball and RM3 Emil E. White, as well as wounding nine others.[31][30] The Boricua Popular Army and two other groups—the Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution and Armed Forces of Popular Resistance—jointly took responsibility for the attacks. The EBP issues a joint release with the OVRP and FARP taking responsibility for the attack.[32][30] Both the EPB and the OVPRR accepted responsibility for the attack, citing that it was a retaliation for Cerro Maravilla and the recent death of Ángel Rodríguez Cristóbal, who died in a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida after being arrested for interrupting military exercises in Vieques during May of that year.[32] which had raised controversy because the photographic evidence displayed signs of contusions and contradicted the official account that he had simply committed suicide.[33] The mystery surrounding his death while in custody led the EPB to believe that he had been murdered in an attempt to intimidate the independence movement, leading to a declaration that "blood would be paid with blood" and that they would retaliate against the United States military if another independentist died in similar circumstances.[32] The organization closed this communique by citing the Geneva convention and urging the United States to protect the safety of its prisoners.[32] On March 13, 1980, the EPB took responsibility for attacking an ROTC vehicle that was moving three soldiers to the UPR.[25]

On April 9, 1980, five days after an FBI operation concluded with the arrest of eleven members of FALN in Chicago, Illinois, the EBP joined that organization, as well as OVRP and FARP, in a joint release.[34] The groups minimized the impact of the arrests in their operations, claiming that they were getting systematically stronger, and that "independence will be conquered no matter the cost".[34] The organization expressed their full support to the FALN members in custody and once again requested that the United States guaranted their security as "prisoners of war" per the Geneva convention, this time also asking the international community to be vocal.[34] The alliance also stated that "on behalf of their martyrs" they would "never stop the struggle", and insisted that they had the means to respond by force if their security was compromised.[34]

Pitirre II[]

In the morning of January 12, 1981, a group of eleven commandos, seven guards and four explosive specialists, set explosives at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, located on the northeastern corner of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.[10] The ensuing explosion destroyed nine aircraft (several operational A-7 Corsair II light attack aircraft and a single F-104 Starfighter supersonic fighter-interceptor aircraft being retained for a static display) and two trucks and damaged two ships on loan from the U.S. Air Force, with the authors leaving a machete behind.[35] The destruction of the military equipment ascended to $45–50 million.[35] The following day, the EPB accepted responsibility for the damage, officially calling the infiltration of Muñiz base "Military Operative Pitirre II", citing that it was in retaliation to actions taken by the statehood movement that they judged detrimental to poor sectors of the public.[36] The deaths at Cerro Maravilla, as well as those of activist Juan Rafael Caballero and civilian Adolfina Villanueva at the hands of the police, were cited as examples of this practice during the Romero Barceló administration.[36] The organization also called it an "act of solidarity" with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front of El Salvador, which was involved in a military campaign against the administration of the Revolutionary Government Junta, a military and political ally of the United States, since there was a possibility that local national guard members were going to be called to duty to intervene in that conflict.[36] Citing that the territorial status had been recognized in a resolution approved by "majority in the United Nations", the EBP stated that in their vision of an independent Puerto Rico, service in a foreign military (e.g., the Armed Forces of the United States, to include the Puerto Rico Army National Guard and Puerto Rico Air National Guard) and the presence of foreign military bases (e.g., Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Naval Security Group Activity Sabana Seca, Fort Buchanan, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, and Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen) would be abolished, arguing that the presence of the latter "exposed [Puerto Rico] to nuclear extermination".[36]

The FBI responded by receiving permission for a full investigation, which allowed them to employ otherwise forbidden practices to track the group.[35] The EPB in turn expressed pride that the attack represented the most damaging to take place in American soil since Pearl Harbor and expressed satisfaction that it would attract attention to their cause, with some members even considering it a parallel to the Gaspee Affair.[2] The group also sent a video to the media where they explained the composition of the cell in charge of the attack without revealing any identities.[10] The security at the base was criticized in media pieces.[37] The attack later served as the basis for upgrading base security, emphasizing flight line security, at all Air National Guard installations on civilian airports in the United States to the same level as active duty U.S. Air Force installations.[38]

On April 21, 1981, four EPB commandos were able to extract $348,000 from a Wells Fargo armored car, with the group later noting that it would be spent in their cause.[2] In November 1981, the EPB detonated explosives in AEE substations in Santurce, a district of San Juan.[39] When 350 families that occupied a makeshift village in Carolina, Puerto Rico, were removed by the police, the EPB warned the governor that they would retaliate.[39] Afterwards, they made an offensive against the police that resulted in twelve injured and one dead policeman.[39]

On June 17, 1981, the EBP, OVRP and Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Puertorriqueños (PRTP) issued a joint statement after no updates were provided on the status of arrested FALN member Freddy Méndez calling this period of silence "a kidnapping".[40] Citing the tactics of CIA operative Dan Mitrione in Uruguay and similar interventions by the United States military in Argentina and Chile as part of Operation Condor, as well as allegations against the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the organizations wondered if Méndez had been tortured and damaged to the point that publicly presenting him would cause a press crisis or if he had been killed in the process.[40] Further quoting the previous use of drugs against prisoners by the FBI and the CIA in projects such as Project MKUltra, and the military use of truth serums, the organizations claimed that these tactics were unsuccessfully used against Rodríguez Cristóbal and that his death was a measure taken in response.[40] Stating that in their opinion the case of Méndez had similarities, the alliance issued an ultimatum to the FBI, promising retaliation in no updates were provided within ten days.[40]

On May 16, 1982, EPB members fired rifles at four sailors of the U.S.S. Pensacola, killing one of them.[2] The group later took responsibility for the attack and expressed that it was retaliation for a large-scale amphibious attack training named "Ocean Venture '82" held at Vieques and other military facilities in Puerto Rico.[2] Four days later, On May 20, 1982, the FBI held the EPB responsible for the placement of four defective bombs at the Caribe Hilton Hotel, with the organization denying responsibility.[39] On September 1, 1982, a group of commandos presumed by the FBI to be Macheteros and outfitted with suppressed weapons and wearing military gear and masks, intercepted a Wells Fargo truck in a route between San Juan and Naranjito, but were unable to acquire the cargo.[41] On November 16, 1982, four commandos feigned a heist in a supermarket to redirect those present to its warehouse until their main target, a Wells Fargo truck, arrived.[41] Supported by more armed commandos that arrived in a van, those inside the building gained control of the armored car keys and took $300,000 from it.[41]

Águila Blanca[]

On September 12, 1983, in an operation entitled Águila Blanca ("White Eagle", the nickname of José Maldonado Román) an EPB agent part of the Los Taínos cell named Víctor Manuel Gerena took over the Wells Fargo depot located in West Hartford, Connecticut stealing a total of seven million dollars.[42] Most of the money was taken through the south border and offshore, used most of the remaining sum to fund their continued operations. According to a written statement from the Macheteros, the action was a symbolic protest against the "greed-infested men and mechanisms which strain our elected officials, government agencies, and social aspirations in this country, as well as in Puerto Rico."[43]

In 1984, Carlos Rodríguez Rodríguez was convicted on bank fraud charges and became an FBI informant in exchange for a lower sentence.[20] However, due to the EPB's policies of anonymity, most of the information was hampered by the use of codenames and useless for the investigation.[20] During this time, there were internal issues between Segarra and group leaders Ojeda and Avelino González, with the first being considered inefficient by the others and general concern arising from his reputation as an unfaithful husband.[44] On January 25, 1985, the EPB detonated a bomb in an empty United States Courthouse, later noting that it was a tribute to Juan Antonio Corretjer.[2]

Strategically, the group experienced internal divisions between a faction that argued for more offensive and another that wanted to tread lightly in order to avoid justifying the classification of terrorism.[44] While the pacifist faction carried damage control and held two toy giveaways for Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico, Ojeda was removed from the political branch on June 4, 1985, due to these conflicts, being only left in charge of his unit.[44] Besides the boldness of the action, the EPB strategists were also unsatisfied when Ramírez failed to account for food expenses in his report.[22]

Following the indictments against 19 members for the 1983 Wells Fargo heist, the EPB continued operations and on October 28, 1986, joined the FARP and the Volunteers in planting two explosives in a Navy recruit center and a National Guard Building as a warning not to use Puerto Rico as a training center for the Contras of Nicaragua and plans to introduce a logging industry at El Yunque.[45]


In 1990, the EPB began what it called a "reconstruction" in response to the arrests of 1985.[46] The group selected September 23 as the date in which they would relaunch their campaign in commemoration of the Cry of Lares, citing the importance of the date for Puerto Rico and the independence movement in particular.[46] According to Ojeda Ríos, in order to be able to gauge the actions of the government of the United States during this phase, they were forced to spend months living in the jungle while avoiding contact with those close to them.[47] While this was happening, other close elements resupplied the EPB and provided information.[47] Despite the emotional impact that the distance from his family caused him, Ojeda Ríos expressed satisfaction with their success, citing that in a 2000 interview with The New York Times, local FBI chief was only able to Marlene Hunter identify some of their tactics, while others were wrongly attributed to the EPB.[47]

In the October–December 1994 issue of the EPB's official newspaper, El Machete, the organization criticized the initiative of the Rosselló administration to amend the Constitution of Puerto Rico to eliminate the absolute right to bail, considering that it directly targeted the lower class.[48] The group also questioned the reasons behind the governor's interest in changing the composition of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, questioning if it was due to an ideological majority that opposed statehood.[48] After citing their perception that the millionaire campaign was "full of personal insults and lies", blaming Romero Barceló for this.[48] The EPB considered this a political move to guarantee a strategic position for the statehood movement, ultimately citing it as a "struggle between the wealthy" and arguing that the defeat of the initiative was a display of rejection towards political parties by the public.[48] In a separate section, the EPB discussed the commonwealth, labeling it as a "liberal status" that was more reminiscent of neocolonialism than historical colonialism and citing the Jayuya uprising as "a beacon that illuminates" their goals, citing that it taught the independence movement both positive approaches and mistakes to avoid.[48] Recognizing that continuing to act despite the end of the socialist bloc changed how they are perceived, the organization argued that the territorial status only led to "more crime, more corruption and more abuse of power", that it affected the lower classes and prevented a resolution to the status quo, urging its membership to take the example of that uprising to focus its offensive on the "many weak flanks" of the commonwealth.[48] The EPB also expressed their condolences for the death of actor Raúl Juliá.[48]

In the January–March 1995 edition of El Machete, the EBP published an essay discussing the origins of corruption, reaching the conclusion that "the institutions creates by the capitalist and economic power to regulate the daily life of its citizens [...] represents the biggest example of corruption" by proving a stage for corrupt individuals seeking individual benefit.[49] In calling for a "political, economic and social revolution", the organization concluded that only "an organized force [could achieve] political liberty."[49] In another section, the organization argued that Roselló was an "inexperienced politician and administration" and a "figure manufactured by the wealthy interest to do their bidding".[49] The EPB cited their belief that the governor was carrying out an agenda to discredit and dismantle the public workforce in an attempt to facilitate statehood by reducing public spending and making Puerto Rico more appealable to the economically conservative elements in the United States.[49] To counter this, the organization urged unions to move "beyond economic issues and to open [themselves to] national struggle" against privatization efforts taken by the Rosselló administration.[49] The EPB also criticized the governor and several politicians and such as Romero Barceló, Baltasar Corrada del Rio and General Emilio Díaz Colón that pursued the construction of a new home base for the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) at Puerto Rico in anticipation of the approaching deadline that the Torrijos-Carter Treaties established for the transfer of control over the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama in 1977.[49] [a] The organization believed that this was an attempt to benefit economically and to fully integrate Puerto Rico into the military apparatus of the United States, "[inching statehood closer] sip by sip".[49] Led by advisor Alberto Goachet, the initiative offered to provide satellite dishes, ports, transportation and low cost accommodations and facilities.[49] Citing that the base would serve as to launch incursions that secure control over Latin America, the EPB called out the lack of action by the PIP and its president, Manuel Rodríguez Orellana.[49] The organization also expressed it support to the efforts of environmentalist organizations that opposed the passing of a Japanese vessel carrying a load of plutonium through the Mona Passage in its route from France to the Panama Canal.[49]

On September 12, 1997, the EPB published a series of quotes attributed to Pedro Albizu Campos discussing a variety of topics, from the Autonomic Charter of 1897 granting Puerto Rico membership in the International Postal Union and its own currency to the suplantation of historic figures and events in public schools.[50] Most of the article focuses on Albizu's belief that Puerto Rico was in a de facto path towards independence when invades in 1898, the need for armed revolution and his assessment that statehood would only be possible with an anglosaxon culture.[50]

On June 26, 1996, the EPB addressed the participants of the American Conference of Governors during a reunion held at Puerto Rico and discussed the local culture and the genetic composition of its people, drawing a direct comparison between it and other Latin American countries.[51] Citing several other cultural elements, the organization concluded that these would never be in line with those of the United States, including a proper flag and hymn.[51] The Macheteros discussed the Spanish, Taíno and African influences present in local folklore and language, which in their perception were irreconcilable with those of the United States.[51] Discussing the presence of "deep Latin American roots", the EPB concludes that the grey kingbird, a small bird known to attack large birds of prey including the bald eagle, is a symbol of Puerto Rican represents a reflection of the unwillingness to assimilate.[51]

On April 1, 1998, the EPB published a press release claiming responsibility for an attack on a facility housing machinery and equipment being used to build the Superaqueduct, one of the Roselló administration's flagship projects.[52] The organization informed that two of its Special Military Units, identified by the names "Manolo el Leñero" and "Francisco Pachín Marín",[b] infiltrated the locale during the previous night.[52] The EPB cited that the government had been working on the project during nighttime, despite the existence of a case in the Appellation Circuit emitted an opinion stating that it lacked proper permits from several agencies including the Department of Natural Resources and that it violated zoning and construction laws, as the justification for their actions.[52] Referring to the Roselló administration as a "political mafia", the organization stated that the government acted "in a dictatorial manner" by "disrespecting the Puerto Rican courts, with no hesitance" and "ignoring the positive and economic alternatives proposed by legitimate defenders of the environment [...] to satisfy the economic interests of private developers."[52] The EPB further argued that the large investment in this and other projects "would end in the pockets of corrupt" individuals, predicting that a portion of it would be used to fund the PNP's political campaign and its lobbyists in Washington.[52] The organization made argued that the environmental damage to the central region and Lago Dos Bocas would be irreparable, also criticizing that the water was only being redirected to the metropolitan area.[52] The group cited local scientists opposed to the Superaqueduct by stating that the effect would also affect Río Grande estuary and the natural reserve of Caño Tiburones in Arecibo, besides offering a subpar quality of water that could endanger the public health.[52] The EPB also expressed concern in the competentcy of those manning the machinery, claiming that it could endanger the safety of children, concluding that these actions formed part of an initiative of "policy of National Salvation" that intended to protect sectors of the general public and workers of entities that the Roselló administration intended to privatize, such as the Puerto Rico Telephone Company.[52] Los Macheteros claimed responsibility for an explosion at a small power station in the San Juan metropolitan area. The explosion caused limited power outages.[53]

Vieques protests[]

In the November–December 1999 edition of El Machete, the EPB addressed the momentum gained by the recent Vieques Navy protests, recapitulating that the independence movement had opposed the presence of the military on that island since the original residents were evicted during the 1940s.[54] The organization then accused all politicians of the subsequent PPD/PNP administration of suffering what they called "USMAIL syndrome", a willingness to cooperate with any military interest of the United States and helping the federal government prosecute those that interfered with their practices in Vieques.[54] The group reaffirmed their belief that Rodríguez Cristóbal was tortured and murdered while in federal custody and stated that the Navy had "lied [and] manipulated" the public to justify their operations, failing to fulfill a promise to "economically develop the island and its population, to eliminate unemployment, [...] keep the island fee of environmental damage, [...] to keep military practices at a minimum [and] return any terrain demes unnecessary."[54] The EPB expressed that they perceived that not only were neither of these fulfilled, but that the situation in Vieques had worsened since the arrival of the military, comparing it to the treatment that the federal government gave to Native Americans.[54] Despite considering the protests a unitary event, the organization questioned if the appearance of some PNP/PPD politicians was intended to attract votes and mentioned a counter measure adopted by congressmen Inhofe and Warner, where Roosevelt Roads Base would be closed if the Navy was expelled from Vieques, as an attempt to dissuade the public.[54] The EPB disregarded this campaign, citing that it was employing "backstreet psychological techniques" and underestimating the intelligence of Puerto Ricans, predicting that it would fail and warning that if the Navy continued to conduct live ammo drills in Vieques, they would respond "According to the rules of military struggles. Selecting the right scenery and action."[54] The group also citicsized representative Edwin Mundo's defense of the Navy, as well as his relationship with ex-pat Raúl Alarcón, whom they blame of sabotaging the career of independentist artists such as Danny Rivera in the United States.[55]

On July 25, 2000, the EPB published a message discussing the 102nd anniversary of the Navy's invasion during the Spanish–American War.[56] The organization remembered that after annexing Puerto Rico, the United States began an Americanization campaign that led to changes in the official language from Spanish to English and the name "Porto Rico" being adopted for the archipelago.[56] By remembering expressions made by congressmen during this timeframe describing Puerto Ricans as "ignorant and undeveloped natives", the EPB quoted that an attempt made by Eugenio María de Hostos to regulate an independence referendum was ignored by the United States, who instead declared Puerto Rico an unincorporated territory.[56] Calling the policies and institutions established during the following decades as "cultural genocide" and "a violation of fundamental human and civil rights", the organization insisted that the American rule was marked with the "creation of divisions" and propagation of "servile" groups such as the statehood movement and status quo supporters in positions of power.[56] This, in their view, as an attempt to manipulate the economy in their benefit and to supply a constant military force "by directing hundreds of Puerto Rican men and women [to service] thanks to poverty".[56] The EPB argued that "any kind of struggle, with the exception of actual terrorism, is more than justified", citing India and the civil rights movement as an example of a type of civilian disobedience that was particularly relevant.[56] The organization then clarified that its inactivity on the matter was a product of "being alert [and] keeping [its] guard high", while patiently observing "with a lack of trust" if the pacific strategies being employed in Vieques worked out, but not discarding "revolutionary actions" if otherwise.[56] On the same date, the Macheteros held a homage to the victims of the Cerro Maravilla murders as well as other historical figures by celebrating the "Day of the Martyrs".[57] In citing an ongoing "psychological warfare [that promotes] division, insecurity, conformism and individualism", the organization argued that this were manifesting itself in attempts to weaken the morale of the Vieques protests.[57]

On August 30, 2000, the EPB sent a letter to the United States Congress citing previous attempt at communication and questioning if a lack of response was motivated by the legislators being more willing to satisfy traditional politicians in exchange for benefits.[51] The organization then accused the territorial politics of the United States of perpetuating a crime against humanity by letting Puerto Rico carry with the negative consequences of the status quo.[51] The Macheteros denied that they were motivated by hatred or a spirit of revenge, claiming that such a portrayal in the media and other outlets was an attempt to manipulate the public and international community (Latin America in particular) led by the FBI and the Navy, who publicly referred to the organization as "terrorists", self-describing themselves as lovers of peace that acted against a lack of justice and equality.[51] The EPB also cited its beliefs that the current generation of American politicians had moved away from the founding fathers and adopted expansionist politics.[51] The organization called the Vieques protests a response to the political divisions promoted by these politics and cited it as an opportunity for Congress to change them.[51] Citing that despite being a pacific people, Puerto Ricans are known to fight for what they perceive as fair, the EPB warned that their actions would continue and this was not meant as a threat, but rather a response.[51] The Macheteros then argued that invading and annexing Puerto Rico as part of the Spanish–American War constituted a violation of international law since the autonomy granted in 1897 placed it en route to become a separate entity. The EPB also expressed that the influence of the United States prevent the actions of other UN members.[51] The organization then recapitulated several events, including the campaigns of Albizu, the Blair house incident and the Congress shooting, and their own actions, discussing them as responses to the perpetuation of the status quo.[51] Additionally, the group condemned the militarization of the archipelago and the unsanctioned medical experimentation with the population.[51] The examples given included the devaluation of the Puerto Rican dollar, the imposition of the Jones Act, the illegal experiments with cancer cells by Cornelius Rhodes, the addition of pesticides to the water supply in an attempt to kill the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the testing of anticonceptive drugs on the unsuspecting public by Enovid, military tests with Agent Orange, a number of massacres in confrontations between the public and Congress appointed governors, the acquisition of Vieques and Culebra by the Navy, intelligence efforts to monitor and arrest independence supporters and the general public, a covert cocaine plantation with the intention of testing different methods to exterminate the plant and a program that intended to examine the effects of radiation on the local flora and fauna by the Atomic Energy Commission.[51] Concluding with a call to pursue justice or face the consequences.[51]

On the birthday of Albizu, the Macheteros issued a message discussing the approach of other pro-independence organizations that had moved away from armed resistance.[58] The EPB considered those that had done so as having abandoned the ideals of Albizu and Betances, instead adopting a "defeated and conformist approach" in the face of the challenge involved in securing independence for Puerto Rico.[58] Accepting that "violence is not something that should be accepted by anyone sane", the organization insisted that they were not the source of violence and were instead responding to it.[58] The EPB argued that most of the public had been "conditioned to accept the "pacific route" towards liberty and independence", citing it as an inefficient and dilatory method that would lead to the "suicide and self-destruction" of Puerto Rican identity.[58] The organization expressed that all of the political structure and the format of the general elections was created by the United States, citing skepticism that independence could win under such circumstances.[58] Citing that inaction resulted in an exacerbation of social, environmental and economic problems emerging from the status quo, the EPB justified its use of violence as a means "for self preservation".[58] On September 23, 2000, the EPB celebrated Lares as the moment that illustrated the birth of Puerto Rico as a nation.[59] The organization also held an introspection where it questioned why the independence movement was segregated into several factions and speculated that it was the system's fault, since "it promotes individualism over collectivity", arguing that this is the reason why the federal government continues to vigorously promote it.[59] The EPB then listed Vieques as an example of a weakening of this tendency and an example of the independence movement converging around a cause without pursuing protagonism. The organization interpreted approaches made by the Navy involving the devolution and decontamination of terrains as a distraction to divide the protestors and sign that there "was fear in Washington", accusing Rosselló and legislators such as Mundo and Parga of facilitating this strategy.[59] The Macheteros also praised the manner in which the religious movements and the PIP handled the situation, despite acknowledging philosophical differences with the latter.[59]

The following month, the EPB discussed that after its latest message, the organization meditates about its decision to reorganize in 1990.[46] After discussing the significance of September 23 to the philosophies of Betances, Albizu and Correrjer, the group discussed the interventions against the independence movement and claimed that the general public was "being manipulated" to facilitate the success of those that opposes that ideal.[46] The organization also expressed its belief that the current system was one where "the corruption of power was an integral part" and blamed the CIA, FBI, secret service and naval forces for perpetuating it in what they called "a strategy to appropriate" Puerto Rico by "controlling its economy, destroying Puerto Rican culture, [...] promoting divisions [...] and institutionalizing a colonial administrative, judicial and politic system." As examples, the EPB once again mentioned the devaluation of the Puerto Rican dollar, the post-invasion Americanization process and the imposition of a military government and the political "intimidation and bribing" among others.[46] The organization reaffirmed its belief that the general elections were inconsequential and held to convince the public that their concerns were being noticed and that September 23 should only serve to rememorate the insurrection with no connection to political parties or ambitions.[46]

On January 1, 2001, the EPB addressed the issue of the Puerto Rican citizenship while several political groups were involved in a debate concerning its validity.[60] The organization expressed its stance that citizenship should not become the central issue of the independence movement, further discussing that the territorial system in Puerto Rico has "very particular characteristics" which protects what they consider an anthitesis of "capitalistic democracy and individual liberty" by employing wealthy strategists and ideologists.[60] The group expresses concern that by accepting the request to renounce the United States citizenship that several of those receiving a certificate of Puerto Rican citizenship (in particular the group Pro-Patria led by Fufi Santori) demanded, the strategy could backfire and "portray the system as inherently humanitarian".[60] The Macheteros instead supported attending the status issue to attain independence and the dealing with the citizenship.[60]

In the July 2001 edition of El Machete the EPB published a chronology of the involvement of the religious sector and the diverse independentist organizations in the protests at Vieques, emphasizing that they had kept their word by avoiding any kind of revolutionary acts while the peaceful civil disobedience was ongoing.[61] The organization then mentioned the tools that they felt the government could employ against them, led by the laws and the justice system, law enforcement and other agencies, "economic influence and brides", the influence of politicians and complemented by Cuban exile "counterevolutionaries in service of the CIA [...] and their Miami-based media".[61] The group criticized the actions of Rosselló when dealing with the Navy, claiming that he placed the final action in the hand of the armed forces while accusing newly elected governor Sila Calderón of using the topic to her advantage but backtracking after ascending to power.[61] The EPB concluded by stating that they would employ this time period to prepare, fortify and consolidate their operations, avoiding "the provocations of the Navy".[61] In other sections, the organization published an homage to the women involved in the protests.[61] The group also recognized that Norma Burgos remained involved in the protests despite ideological differences, but criticized the actions of Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer, Jorge Santini, Kenneth McClintock and Edison Misla Aldarondo in support of the Navy.[61]

On September 23, 2001, the EPB opened its speech by discussing the role of the descendants of the criollo class in founding the political parties under the United States administration and preserving the status quo.[62] After completing the usual recapitulation of the historical intervention by the United States and the Vieques protests, the message digressed towards the 9/11 attacks calling the event "inhumane" and "barbaric", citing that "under no pretense the Macheteros can accept, and much less justify acts of this nature".[62] Citing that "revolutionaries are moved by a love for humanity", the organization expressed condolences both to the families of fallen Puerto Ricans and the innocent American public." The EPB, however, expressed that there were similarities between these attacks and the actions "taken by the government of the United States throughout the world" mentioning the death of civilians in Vietnam, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Iraq as example where military intervention resulted in heavy casualties.[62] Shifting its focus to Latin America, the organization discussed the invasions of Panama and the Dominican Republic and its support of Fulgencio Batista, Rafael Trujillo, Efraín Ríos Montt, Alfredo Stroessner, Anastasio Somoza García, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Augusto Pinochet as equally unforgivable and done "to satisfy lust of economic power of some infamous minorities".[62] Citing the Ponce massacre as another example, the EPB criticized that local sectors echo their classification as a terrorist organization by the FBI, in their view to "justify open repression" in an effort "to change public opinion" in Puerto Rico.[62] The EPB blamed the Calderón administration for "seeking away to distance [itself] from the [...] Vieques problem", also expressing concern that the attacks could be employed to guarantee the permanence of the Navy in Vieques.[62]

Criticism of Bush's international policy[]

On the November 2001 edition of El Machete, the EPB published an editorial claiming that following 9/11 the federal government had taken advantage of the situation to eliminate several civil rights through the Patriot Act.[63] The organization stated that this move granted "plenipotentiary powers to fascist militarists" to freely intervene with those that oppose their politics.[63] The Macheteros anticipated that these measures would be employed against them and that the CIA would employ the recent events to recruit in universities by exploiting the fear of terrorism in the general population and decided to preemptively issue messages of their own in these institutions.[63] The EPB explained that they expected "state terrorism", since in their view the military had been given the power to be de facto rulers of the United States with this law.[63] The organization also reproduced several third party articles detailing the CIA's budget and strategies.[63] In 2002, Ojeda Ríos was interviewed by journalist José Elías Torres citing expectations of a possible fusion between the Congreso Nacional Hostosiano con and the Nuevo Movimiento Independentista, citing as an example to follow for other non-partisan independentist organizations.[47][c]

On April 28, 2004, a missive signed by Ojeda Ríos was sent to the El Díario newspaper, where he expressed that the EPB opposed the proposed establishment of a permanent Free Trade Area of the Americas homebase in San Juan.[64] Offering a brief summary of the organization's ideology, he cited that these beliefs contrasted with the policies of the FTAA, which they considered an initiative controlled by the interests of the United States.[64] Ojeda Ríos also expressed his stance that the establishment of this homebase in San Juan would "represent support for the colonial condition of Puerto Rico; as another invasion by the United States" and argued that there was no need to exacerbate the issue.[64]

In September 2004, while being interviewed about an anthology of the independence movement on radio Juan Mari Brás made a public request to Ojeda Ríos to detail the EPB's ideology for that project.[65] The requested information was received shortly afterwards and published in Claridad. The article begins by quoting Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth "the colonized are cured of colonial neurosis by driving the colonist out by force", citing the ambient of the populace after the destruction of airplanes in Muñiz airbase as an example of this, remembering a general feeling of "pride and hope" in the populace.[65] Ojeda Ríos then establishes a dichotomy between the reactionary violence of colonialism and revolutionary actions, saying that the first was imposed on Puerto Ricans and created divisions that could potentially lead to a Civil War.[65] He then discussed that the EPB believes that the right for self-determination and independence established in Resolution 1514 (XV) grants "moral and legal strength" to their actions.[65] Ojeda Ríos further cites the provisions of Resolution 2105 (XX) inviting UN members to cooperate with armed resistance in colonies, the assessment provided in Resolution 2326 that repression of armed movements is "incompatible with the parameters of Resolution 1514" and Resolution 2621 (XXV) that declares ongoing colonialism a crime "against the principles of international law" as supporting his stance.[65] He concludes by stating that the violence employed by the EPB "is not aggressive, but defensive". Ojeda Ríos also quoted Fanon's assertion that the "colonist makes history", noting the existence of two coexisting and conflicting accounts of Puerto Rican history and establishing a parallel with the revolutionary history in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean in particular by mentioning the involvement of Antonio Valero de Bernabé and María Mercedes in Simon Bolivar's campaign.[65] He cites the 1811 San Germán conspiracy, an independentist uprising planned by members of the Regimiento de Granada Andrés Salvador and Juan Vizcarrondo Ortiz de Zárate in 1838 and the actions of bishop Juan Alejo de Arizmendi and politician Ramón Power y Giralt as events that build the Cry of Lares and as part of an "ignored history".[65] Ojeda also established a contrast between Betances and Luis Muñoz Rivera, calling the latter an "opportunist" that promoted a reform of the Spanish colonial system, calling Albizu the spiritual successor of the former for his criticism of autonomists that pursue an expansion of faculties under the territorial clause.[65] He calls Corretjer the next link in the chain and laments that the initiatives of independentists that were part of the Muñoz Marín administration were attributed to the governor "for the benefit of the North American government".[65] Ojeda Ríos reiterated his posture against participating in general elections and rebutted an argument recently published where countries like Mexico, Brasil, Argentina and Chile were essentially neocolonies, citing that they merely responded to their historical realities and were still capable to employ these alliances according to their own interests despite the influence of the United States.[65] Ojeda Ríos concluded noting that EPB members held civilian jobs and acted covertly, resulting in the presence of Macheteros in any place and any government agency, noting that at the moment their strategy was not one of frontal assault but of armed propaganda, through which actions were focused on targets that could gather the attention and support of the public.[65] He insisted that this was resulting in a covert support that would allow a progression towards other strategies, while avoiding actions against them. Ojeda Ríos closed this letter by contrasting the actions of the EPB to terrorist tactics, citing the ongoing war in the Middle East, the Holocaust and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as examples of an unacceptable terrorism that had "no space" within the organization's philosophy.[65] One that he described as based on the principles of "equality" and "social justice".[65]

On November 26, 2004, Ojeda Ríos issued a post-election statement and after classifying the process as one that arises from "illusions" that promote "division", diverted his attention to a series of editorials published by Claridad analyzing the political environment of Puerto Rico, in particular one published during the first week of November where the newspaper stated its availability to all sectors within the movement.[66] He argued against the individualization of the independence movement, citing that years of epithets and personalisms in the independentist speech had not advanced the cause. To control any damage caused by these, Ojeda Ríos proposed that the debates between factions should be held in private, allowing a dispassionate and conciliatory approach to the solution of these problems.[66] He clarified that the EPB did believe in organizing general elections, but only when "regulated by strict democratic rules", which they don't perceive in the events held under the territorial clause. Ojeda Ríos also opposed participating in a democracy that supports military incursions in independent states.[66] He proposed the "harmonization" of al sectors within the movement and requested that despite their own philosophical differences, other organizations should avoid trying to gain status by seeking to supplant the PIP.[66]

Meetings with the Catholic church, media[]

When the organization became aware that a certain person wanted to hold a reunion with Ojeda Ríos, they would discuss and analize it before approving the meeting, with the Commander issuing a report of the topics discussed afterwards.[67] According to the briefing that followed his reunion with bishop González Nieves, it was established that the religious leader tried to convince him to move away from armed conflict and to abandon clandestine activities.[67] However, Ojeda Ríos responded by replying that, despite respecting the motives behind these suggestions, he declined.[67] He extended an offer of his own to the bishop to join the efforts of the EPB, which was turned down as well.[67]

On April 8, 2005, the EPB voiced a message in honor of Ramón Emeterio Betances as part of the commemoration of his birthday.[68] After opening with one of the physicians quotes "what are Puerto Rican doing that they don't rebel?", Ojeda Ríos continued his message by reading a letter directed to the 19th century independentist leader.[68] In it he questioned why those that followed the armed ideology were now criticized by other factions of the independence movement as "archaic", condemning them for seeking alliances with those that he held responsible for the "maladies that affect" Puerto Rico.[68] Ojeda Ríos claimed that these organizations utilized the media to promote a "message of confusion, by exposing a concept of condescending struggle", which led the public down "auto-destructive paths" by postponing a resolution for decades.[68] After suggesting that these entities promoted a message which meant "no sacrifice or danger to them", he concluded that they only cited previous independentists leaders to "further their ideas and interests".[68]

In August 2005, journalist José Elías of WPAB hosted Ojeda Ríos for an interview. He cited a number of events that in his view signaled the weakening of capitalism, including the possibility of an energy crisis caused by the management of petroleum, leading him to speculate that the latest intervention in Iraq was motivated by this.[47] Ojeda Ríos observed that capitalism was losing its flexibility and that the International Monetary Fund could no longer benefit from extending loans to Latin American countries since the consequent debt now prevented them from paying in full any longer, also citing that the actions of Hugo Chávez were influencing a change in the dynamic.[47] He lamented that due to the status issue any problem faced by the United States was exponentially worse in Puerto Rico and warned that a serious economic crisis was impending and that there were no obvious solutions in sight, save for independence.[47] Ojeda Ríos argued that a raise in criminality and the costs of basic necessities would be seen, blaming the legislature for granting tax exemptions to oil importers but not the public.[47] Ojeda Ríos assumed that this incoming crisis would convince the populace that self-determination was unavoidable, resulting in a massification of the ideal and forcing a pre-revolutionary state, but also recognized that planificatiom would be required to "reconstruct" Puerto Rico if independence was reached and that this would take some time and possible sacrifices.[47] He also criticized what he perceived as an inferiority complex imparted by the education system, which he called "a psychological dynamic program [of] the government of the United States", which promotes the belief that Puerto Rico could not sustain itself without foreign intervention, which he expressed must be overcomed during this process.[47] Ojeda Ríos included this as only one aspect of the "devalorization of Puerto Ricans" by the United States, which also included manipulation of the official history, recognizing the work of José Ferrer Canales, Félix Ojeda, Estrade and other historians that publish work that defies the postures of the government and popularized events like the Ponce Massacre. Moving on to other independentists organizations, he argued against reformism within the movement, citing that it had been prevalent since the times of Betances. Ojeda Ríos also expressed some disappointment in the direction taken after the fusion of the MIHN, citing that he expected it to follow the populist example of the Movimiento Pro Independencia, instead of the open cooperation with the PPD, which he perceived as an error that arose from good faith.[47] He discussed how this tendency has caused a rift within the independence movement, which endangered the presence of some organization in the commemoration of the Grito de Lares Lares, a division that the EPB opposed and considered counterproductive.[47] Ojeda Ríos, however, questioned why this sort of confrontation could happen but the PIP did not provide a consistent opposition to the PPD in the legislature.[47] Despite these postures, he expressed respect to the recently deceased PPD mayor of Ponce Rafael Cordero and questioned if the lack of progress in his signature project was because it did not benefit the government of the United States.[47]

Elías also discussed the three different strategies seen within the independence movement, electoral participation, civil mobilization and clandestine struggle.[47] Ojeda Ríos reaffirmed his stance that independence would not be achieved in elections, but conceded that things beneficial to it could be, suggesting that the electoral opposition needed to "radicalize" its opposition and asking Rúben Berrios to discuss his differences with other organizations within the independence movement.[47] On the other hand, he expressed that the civil society was progressing slowly due to a lack of leadership and coherence.[47] Ojeda Ríos justified the vigency of armed resistance, also distancing itself from terrorism, dictatorship or coups.[47] He also discussed his close friendship with Rafael Cancel Miranda and confided that the EPB had been covertly publishing documents about armed resistance that in his view were gathering this tactic support from the public.[47] When questioned by Elías about the reason behind the move from a mostly paramilitary strategy to also include activism, Ojeda Ríos quoted that several other armed organizations had spent prolonged periods in preparation before stricking, citing 15 years of inactivity by the zapatistas while it gathered the support of Amerindian groups, the initial movements in Vietnam during the 1930s and the organization of the French Revolution as examples.[47] Ojeda Ríos gave his opinion of then-Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño to this journalist, labeling him as "a person with no dignity", "who is totally submitted to the will of the United States government" and "does not make decisions that favor the people".[69] He concluded by stating that future political aspirations by the functionary would be "a calamity" and that "having Fortuño as a governor would be a disaster [for Puerto Rico]".[69]

Ojeda Ríos also discussed international politics, in particular the involvement of local politicians with the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), nothing the peculiarity that Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño and Eduardo Bathia supported the initiative.[47] After citing that the former supported recent criticism issued by Condolezza Rice against Venezuela, he argued that the treaty only "granted more control" to the United States over the other parts and represented a threat to Puerto Rico, since production costs in these countries were lower and could trigger a migration of enterprises.[47] Ojeda Ríos also expressed that despite openly supporting Puerto Rican independence, Castro and Chavéz had avoided adopting radical measures on the matter, arguing that they were most likely being cautious since their involvement in local affair at could justify military intervention by the United States.[47] When discussing the ongoing war in Iraq, he called it "part of a geopolitical strategy for the Middle East" and claimed that it served economic interests, calling it "the most abusive war" since Vietnam.[47] Ojeda Ríos expressed opposition to the military recruitment of students in high schools and lamented the participation of Puerto Ricans in this war.[47] He also supported the anti-war activism of Cindy Sheehan and Sonia Santiago.[47] When discussing the evolution of the war on terrorism, Ojeda Ríos once again cited several acts done by the United States military locally, in Abu Rahub, Guantanamo, Japan and Vietnam as examples of "state terrorism" and criticized CNN for publishing live feeds of the bombings in Iraq "without regard" for those that died as collateral damage.[47]

On September 12, 2005, the EPB's commemorative message focused in a 1930 call made by Albizu to "all the Puerto Rican Nation" to celebrate the anniversary each year.[70] The organization expressed that this message was directed to the general public instead of political parties and leaders. After asserting that insularism had been taught and institutionalized for over a century, the EPB argued that Lares could serve to "help them understand their reality, our reality, and to establish links with organized patriotism."[70] The organization then concluded that regardless of their actions, "Lares also belongs to them" and "[they] must be invited." The EPB then criticized the "those leaders of the fatherland that mistakenly put the particular interests of their organization [or] personal ones over the patriotic ideal", stating that "[t]hose that deploy lines that destruct the unity, will also unleash the invisible forces of their own margination."[70] The organization concluded by issuing an invitation to commemorate those fallen in Lares.[70]

Death of Ojeda Ríos[]

On September 23, 2005, the anniversary of "el Grito de Lares" ("The Cry of Lares") members of the FBI San Juan field office surrounded a modest home in the outskirts of the town of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, where Ojeda Ríos was believed to be living in. The FBI claims that it was performing surveillance of the area because of reports that Ojeda Ríos had been seen in the home. In their press release, the FBI stated their surveillance team was detected, and proceeded to serving an arrest warrant against Ojeda Ríos. The FBI claims that as the agents approached the home, shots were fired from inside and outside the house wounding an FBI agent. The FBI alleges it then returned fire fatally wounding Ojeda Ríos.

Meanwhile, a message recorded by Ojeda Ríos was played at the commemoration of the Cry of Lares. In it he rememorated the creation of the Junta Republicana de Cuba y Puerto Rico, which was established in a reunion held at New York and which served to plan this event and its counterpart, the Cry of Yara.[71] Tracing the origin of the local independence movement to several events that preceded this insurrection, Ojeda Ríos discussed the various individuals that had led the armed organizations throughout history, while also noting simulates in the working environment of the 1860s and the 1950s.[71] He later discussed the existence of reformists within the independence movement, citing that they unwittingly "helped consolidate the current colonial status" citing a then-independentist Luis Muñoz Marín as the leader of this movement.[71] Ojeda Ríos also cited his belief that the establishment of the Commonwealth had "served to provide an illegitimate and false consent" to the territorial status, which he describes as resulting in the elimination of agricultural production, displacement of local businesses by large corporations and the application of obligatory service that served to serve both large scale wars and secondary interventions throughout Latin America.[71] Directing his focus to the independence movement, he recognized the strategic differences between organizations but insisted that they should not be allowed to divide them, suggesting that a Constituent Assembly would be held to solve them once independence was achieved.[71] Ojeda Ríos requested that those that choose to pursue an electoral alternative should employ the legislature to advance their cause and avoid diverting from this goal.[71] He labelled the anti-war activities of Santiago and a campaign led by Marta Villaizán and Aleida Centeno denouncing the privatization and experimentation of local natural resources as examples to follow for the civil society and called attention towards the moves of the federal government in El Yunque and the intervention of Fortuño and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in this process. Ojeda Ríos closed his intervention by citing what he perceived as movements being made by Venezuela and Cuba to consolidate Latin American and the Caribbean and acclaimed independentist and Latin American unity.[71]

A subsequent autopsy of Ojeda's body determined that he bled to death over the course of 15 to 30 minutes.[1][72] The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission started an investigation of the incident shortly after Ojeda Rios' death that lasted 7 years. The 227-page report issued on 22 September 2011 stated that Ojeda Rios's killing was "an illegal killing" by the FBI.[3][4][73]

Change in guard; Comandante Guasábara[]

Following the confrontation that concluded in the death of its former leader, the command of the Boricua Popular Army was inherited by an anonymous figure known as "Comandante Guasábara", named after the Taíno word for "war". Under his leadership, the group appears to have shifted its focus towards intelligence. For example, the group has not recorded a single military action. Instead, Guasábara has generally used the media to publish classified information. Under Guasábara, the Macheteros took an emphasis on publishing pieces regarding the use of Culebra and Vieques as bombing targets for the U.S. Navy; what they perceive as a disproportionate number of military bases on the island (compared to states in the Union); the proportion of deaths within the ranks of the Independence and Nationalist leadership, including the alleged experimentation with radiation on Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos while he was incarcerated; the secret testing of Agent Orange on Puerto Rican soil; and cancer "experiments" administered by Cornelius P. Rhoads, in which he claimed to have killed Puerto Rican patients and injected cancer cells to others, while working as part of a medical investigation conducted in San Juan's Presbyterian Hospital for the Rockefeller Institute.[74][75]

In February 2006, the EPB published a press release where it accused the FBI of launching a "cruel campaign [based on] monitoring, harassing and repressing" unions and independentist, religious, environmentalist and similar organizations.[76] The group then responded to a statement released by the FBI where they were classified as an entity that was endangering "the interests of the general population" by stating that throughout 30 years they "never targeted the general public", instead focusing on government targets.[76] The group then states that they "condemn" the tactics of the FBI and expressed support to the people involved in protests against the agency since September 23, 2005.[76] The EPB urged the public to respond by exposing the buildings and vehicles used by the FBI and by protesting in the methods available.[76] The organization also informed that the results of their own investigation on the death of Ojeda Ríos was pending. The EPB concluded by stating that nobody is "obligated to respond to their questions" and urging the general public to avoid cooperating with the agency.[76]

On April 4, 2006, a letter authored by Camacho was read before an audience gathered in protest before the federal prison in Guaynabo.[77] In it the former director of the EPB questions why he was jailed again, wondering if it was for "violating some colonial conditions", noting that he had been freely roaming for two years with no consequence.[77] Camacho cites two reasons for his arrest, the first being that a congressional commission had been proposed to investigate the death of Ojeda Ríos and a separate incident involving the local press, assuming that he was detained to prevent him from testifying before this commission and relay information that he received about the FBI's operations in Puerto Rico.[77] The second was to stop the momentum that the Consejo Nacional para la Descolonización was gaining in his view, claiming that this entity represented an obstacle to the free association movement which in his opinion seemed to "prolong colonialism" by retaining a collaboration with the United States.[77]

On September 12, 2006, the EPB addressed several historical events that took place during this month, both locally such as the Grito de Lares and the birth of Albizu and internationally by quoting the process that began the independence of Chile and Mexico in 1810.[78] The communique then shifted its focus to events that in their view were negative, including the establishment of a Palestinian Jewish settlement in 1921, the 1973 Chilean coup d'état and 9/11 and its repercussions including the Patriot Act.[78] The EPB responsibilized Albizu for popularizing the Cry of Lares after it was "stricken from official history" and establishing the municipality as the "Altar of the Motherland", beginning a tradition that includes a yearly pilgrimage there on the anniversary of the event.[78] The EPB closed this communiqué by remembering that the last public message offered by Ojeda Ríos urged the entire independence movement to attend the ceremony.[78]

On June 5, 2007, the EPB issued a statement congratulating the Nueva Escuela group for their proselytizing work that first started in June 2005, citing that its results were being seen.[79] The organization also states that despite the monitoring of the FBI, police and other agencies, they were still developing clandestine forces.[79] On September 23, 2007, the EPB offered a message where it expressed that the only way to "develop the economy of Puerto Rico to its full potential", guarantee "secure and well paid jobs" for the working class and an "education system that really produces educated people" was to take control away from the United States, citing a moral debt to Ojeda Ríos.[80] The organization criticized the health system's dependency on insurance companies and the idea that the United States would unilaterally grant independence, arguing that operating in a frame that fell outside their comfort zone was the path to follow.[80] The EPB then claimed that a series of robberies and attacks against independentist figures including Rafael Cancel Miranda were attempts to intimidate the movement by "those that control the system".[80] The organization also distanced themselves from a man that called the police superintendent, airport and the mail offices and self-identified as a Machetero, citing that they are a "revolutionary organization and not terrorists like the FBI", citing that "attempts to discredit [them] would not result in desperate actions" and that they would continue with the usual methodical approach.[80] The EPB also expresses it support for worker's unions and opposed the privatization of places of sociocultural interest and recreation, watersources and beaches, as well as deforestation and expropriation.[80] The organization warned that a recent influx of FBI agents could have the independence movement as a target and requested cooperation from its counterparts, despite strategic and philosophical differences.[80]

Opposition to the Fortuño administration (2009–2012)[]

On September 12, 2009, the EPB commemorated the birthday of Albizu.[81] Noting that he died after being jailed, the organization insisted that justice was not yet made, expressing chagrin at the idea that some of the responsible were now regarded as historically influential people.[81] The EBP then drew a parallel between the death of Albizu and Ojeda Ríos, accusing the local and federal authorities of complicity, as well as some pro-independence organization ms due to their silence on the matter.[81] The group closed by claiming that the General Inspector's report tried to blame Ojeda Ríos for the actions of a FBI squad that "wanted to eliminate the real representative of armed resistance [in Puerto Rico]" and compared it to the actions taken during the Romero Barceló administration in regards to the Cerro Maravilla murders, and expressed disbelief that despite cooperating with the federal agencies the local government, most notably the Police of Puerto Rico, concluded that the scene was not tampered when they only saw photographic evidence provided by the FBI.[81] Noting that the Civil Rights Commission investigating the case questioned if the scene was tampered, the organization lamented that the report concluded that no criminal charges could be presented against the federal agent identified as "Brian" or any of the other involved.[81]

On September 23, 2009, the paramilitary EBP joined the political branch of the Macheteros, the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Puertorriqueños, in an event named Vigilia por la Dignidad held at Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, in honor of Ojeda Ríos.[82] There both groups agreed that they would promote an agenda of unity with other sectors of society to confront what they perceived as "a fascist repression" being imposed by the government and manipulated by "[foreign interests] that control large amounts of capital".[82] The EPB and PRTP stated that Fortuño represented the "lords of capital" and that his administration was surrendering control of the government and justice system to these interests.[83] The organizations argued that finality was economic gain at the expense of the public and that they employed open class warfare against it, approving laws without feedback and enforcing other measures.[83] The EBP and PRTP concluded this communiqué by suggesting that public manifestations, armed resistance and independentist unity would be required to counteract the administration.[83] In a different topic, the EPB provided an extended critique of the Puerto Rican statehood movement.[69] In denoting what they believe is the "true face of anexionism", referring to right-wing Republicans such as Fortuño, Rivera Schatz and Jennifer González, the group quoted Ojeda Ríos opinion of the newly elected governor.[69] The EPB argued that those wealthy interests pushed Fortuño by exploiting modern propaganda methods, such as the internet and media, and that the federal government "employed its creativity" to ensure his election by indicting the former governor after the political campaign had begun.[69] The organization interpreted this as a showcase of the "power of transnational corporation to manipulate the economic and political" system, and argued that the austerity measures were part of a plan to satisfy the bond-holders, multinationals, developers and businessmen and "to present statehood as the only solution" to an "intentionally exacerbated crisis".[69] The EBP also criticized unions for their perceived "dispersion", "lack of ideological definition" and "unwilliness to radicalize their struggle", asking them to seek coordinated efforts that entice "the evolution of revolutionary postures within the middle class and the public in general".[69] The organization then urged other independentist groups to cease cooperating with other entities that "seek sovereignty but not independence", in particular with the free association movement, and to pursue unity to face the "militaristic" and "repressive" actions of an administration that "leans towards dictatorship".[69]

Three weeks later, both entities participated in a march against the measures of the Fortuño administration along groups that fell outside the independence movement, which interrupted the traffic in several routes and converged at Plaza Las Americas (a mall owned by the Fonalledas family, prominent members of the Puerto Rico Republican Party, to which Fortuño is affiliated).[82] The following week the 2009 Cataño oil refinery fire began. The Macheteros felt that expressions made by government functionaries labeling protestors as "terrorists" and the subsequent investigation of the fire as potentially intentional were intended to link separate events and degrade the public perception of the protests.[82] Believing that the federal government could be executing a plan to "escalate the persecution against students (in reference to animosity between the UPR and the government which eventually led to a strike), worker unions and independentists [in general]", the EPB warned of four possible ways in which such an approach could benefit the government; by misdirecting the attention away from the administration, by trying to create a contrast that would portray Fortuño positively, by intimidating potential protestors and by persecuting them.[82] To justify their statement, the organization cited that immediately after the fire began, Fraticelli, Figueroa Sancha, Rodríguez Ema and Santini held a reunion where they established that "it was a good moment to behead the dissident movements".[82]

On October 26, 2009, the EPB discussed what they described as an intensification in the "offensive [launched by an alliance] between the government and employers [against] the working class of the country", based on "closing down work sources, the layoff of thousands of workers, government refusal to recognize the validity of collective agreements and the manipulation of the media [when discussing] the public crisis.[82] The Macheteros reintegrated that in order to gain a convincing defeat against these entities, the only way was by confronting it directly and expressed that it was time to create an "Unified Work Plan" which would clearly establish which measures could be employed to solidly popular ideas and [hence] its combat capabilities.[82] In this release, the EBP criticized the designation of José Figueroa Sancha as superintendent of the Puerto Rico Police, calling him "a murderer sent by the federal government to promote confrontation and thus, repression".[82] The group expressed its belief that any power gained by this functionary would be due to a "lack of compromise" from the rest of the independence movement to directly confront him, urging that unity between all factions of the movement would bring a new perspective to the political environment and would represent a display of "a patriotic will that transcends organizations" in a fight against the "fascism that has been instituted [by the Fortuño administration]".[82] Emphasizing their belief that the government was being manipulated by people from Milla de Oro (San Juan's banking hub) and Calle Chardón (an avenue where the local headquarters of most federal agencies are located) the EPB concluded this statement by warning that they would be in the "most unexpected of places, with [their] sights set right to protect the people".[82]

Two months later, the EPB granted an interview to Claridad, where the organization discussed its stance on several topics.[84] The group opened by expressing that the 2009 administration change did little to the "[preexisting] neoliberal politics of both parties", claiming that both exploit demagogue to entice voters but that in reality they "only serve the bourgeoisie of the United States of Puerto Rico, among which are the bankers, developers and contractors".[84] However, the organization did differentiate Fortuño from his predecessor, claiming that "as a fervent servant of the Republican neoliberal capitalism" he employed "a strategy to downsize the government, privatize anything that is of interest to bond and capital holders and to eliminate all that is preserving the culture of the Puerto Rican nation alive".[84] The Macheteros expressed concern that this administration wanted to portray the wealthy as the answer to the economic crisis, "which are really the fault of all government administrations, including Mr. Fortuño's".[84] The group also disregarded all measures adopted by the legislature, which in their view only responded to the economic interests of the wealthy, which they considered "perhaps the worst of all" and warning the PPD legislators led by Hector Ferrer that "weak opposition [virtually turned them] into accomplices".[84]

In this interview the EPB reaffirmed its stance against the assignment of Figueroa Sancha to the police and denounced that none of the government appointments were consulted with the public or sectors associated with them including political and youth organizations, laboral unions and environmentalists, leading to protests and strikes.[84] When assessing the response to these politics by the independence movement, the group admitted that they have failed as a whole, being unable to unify wills to create a synchronized plan, which they considered a priority to spread their message about issues that "[would not] be resolved by removing Luis Fortuño with Tomás Rivera Schatz or any other PNP candidate [or by] a challenger from the PPD", because "election have always been manipulated to favor colonial interests as well as those of bankers and businessmen over those of the people".[84] Further clarifying that despite recent concessions they still believe in armed resistance and would continue the involvement in events related to the class war that they perceive is taking place in Puerto Rico, while staying distant from general elections, status plebiscites or a Constituent Assembly, unless the latter was held to create a constitution for an independent state.[84]

Further warning against "political cannibalism between independentists", the Macheteros told their counterparts that it was their "obligation to be at the forefront of every manifestation and protest" against the Fortuño administration.[84] After citing that their call for unity was a response to those times, the EBP expressed concern at the possibility of forcing a general strike without a tactical plan capable of replacing any protestors that may be incarcerated or killed and a list of demands.[84] The organization also distanced itself from pro-independence organizations that have expressed their belief that more visibility in international organizations means that their goal is closer than ever before, stating that "[they] must show [the Latin American nations that support the movement] how far [they] are willing to go".[84] The EBP also criticized independence supporters that cooperate with the free association movement in some converging points, since despite seeking a non-territorial resolution to the status issue the soberanistas do not pursue or believe in independence.[84] Despite this assessment, the Macheteros called for a truce that would unite the left, citing that in the vigils organized by the PRTP and them through the Coordinadora Nacional de las Vigilias por la Dignidad Filiberto Ojeda Ríos the 23rd day of every months are attended by people from all of the independentist spectrum.[84]

The EBP revealed that it was not surprised by the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, expressing its belief that it came at a moment where the military industrial complex "needed a charismatic figure to replace [George W.] Bush, whose poor public perception [and management] of the economy had endangered the system".[84] The organization expressed that this pattern where a staunch conservative was replaced by a conciliatory liberal had been seen in American politics throughout the second half of the 20th century, and that they did "not expect a radical change in politics towards Latin America under Obama".[84] The Macheteros cited that the president backtracked his initial condemnation of the 2009 Honduran coup d'état, the proliferation of American military bases in Colombia and constant confrontations between his administration and Hugo Chávez as supporting evidence for this statement.[84] The EBP further emphasized that the absence of concrete movements to lift the United States embargo against Cuba as a sign that Obama was "more of the same".[84]

During the following months, Jesús Dávila of NCM Noticias began circulating seven questions for the EPB.[67] On October 12, 2010, the responses attributed to Comandante Guasábara were published by that journalist.[67] In response to the organization's role in the political environment during that particular juncture, the Macheteros expressed that they were being "patient and responsible", "hearing the complaints of the people" and warning that "their patience and passiveness were reaching an end".[67] The group claimed that they had obtained information related to government corruption and the influence of foreign interests that pressured them to act, since "standing still with their arms crossed [would] violate their elemental [ideals] as an armed revolutionary organization", warning that they no longer intended to "scream slogans" at rallies, but were instead waiting "to strike the adequate objective at the adequate time and place".[67] When questioned about a draft announced by the organization some time prior to the interview, Guasábara responded by noting that "being at war, the existence of Machetero commandos and permanent recruitment will be necessary [...] until we declare the Republic."[67] The EPB described its strategy as one that evolved in three steps emerging from the rearguard; the first being the defensive as a response to the enemy's offensive, the second being a period of strategic consolidation and preparation of a counterattack plan and the third being the implementation of this plan in contrast to the government's politics.[67]

The group expressed its belief that the faster that they accomplish independence, the faster that they can begin associating with other Latin American nations and consolidate efforts with its counterparts.[67] Believing that the local and federal governments had "extreme repressive and oppressive economic measures against the people" to unprecedented levels, Guasábara warned that privatization of services would bring "a raise in costs" and "meager salaries", also citing that constitutional rights were being violated by the Fortuño administration noting that under Rivera Schatz the general public was not allowed to openly protest at the Senate of Puerto Rico.[67] The EPB derided the government's raise of the UPR's tuition and the withdrawal of funds for cultural organizations.[67] It also expressed support to those opposing the Via Verde project, stating that it would "destroy the environment [and] endanger human life and property".[67] All of these conditions convinced the Macheteros that the conditions for a public revolt were being formed, citing that they would "do everything in their power to convince the people that there is a need to defend themselves".[67] Guasábara admitted that the organization was receiving information concerning military and political strategies that the United States intended to enact in Puerto Rico and that they employ it to remain elusive and to prepare counter measures, only making a portion of it public, but refused to reveal their sources.[67] When questioned about the possibility of reopening a line of inquiry with the Catholic Church (an initiative abandoned in 2005 after the death of Ojeda Ríos), the officer said that the EPB is open "to chat [and] exchange ideas", but that they would not abandon armed resistance.[67]

Three months later, the EPB issued a joint press release with the PRT and the PRTP announcing the death of one of its members, William Pintado Burgos.[85] After emphasizing that he had joined the armed resistance from a young age as a believer in independence and socialism, the organizations proceeded to posthumously grant him the title of Commander of the Puerto Rican Revolution, which is only granted to those that are deemed to have "stood firm and battled the motherland's enemy".[85] Months later, on the birthday of Ramón Emeterio Betances, the EBP joined Jornada Betances in a homage to the Puerto Rican students involved in the protests against the Fortuño administration.[86] Remembering that September 23, 1868, is now celebrated as "the birth of the Puerto Rican nation", having been the date of the Cry of Lares when Betances and several other revolted against Spain and proclaimed the first Republic of Puerto Rico under Francisco Ramírez Medina, the group insisted that it was time to do the same as that day. Citing Pedro Albizu Campos's phrase "it's difficult to give a speech while the mother is lying on bed and there is a killer prowling", the Macheteros anthropomorphized the influence of the United States as that murderer and labeled the Via Verde project and cases of government corruption as examples of actions being taken against the motherland, urging the public to mimic the actions of Lares.[86] Blaming Fortuño, Figueroa Sancha and Fraticelli for a violent response to the UPR strike, the EPB congratulated the students for precipitating a negotiation procedure.[86] Despite this, the organization urged the public to continue its resistance against the measures adopted by the Fortuño administration.[86] The Macheteros also informed that they were "gathering strength, preparing the stage and studying" its opponents, quoting Betances' strategy of patiently and convertly planning every revolutionary action before executing them. The group stated that public education would be defended by "an army of students and communities".[86] The EBP concluded its statement by warning that "the enemy was to be confronted with proper planning and intelligence [...] knowing when to strike". In lobbying for an unified national front, the Macheteros insisted that to accomplish independence the only way to do it was by following the armed resistance promoted by Betances, Albizu, Corretjer and Ojeda Ríos.[86]

On July 23, 2011, the EBP released a statement comparing the work of the now resigned Fraticelli and Figueroa Sancha to the measures adopeted by governor Blanton Winship and police chief Elisha Francis Riggs against the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party during the 1930s.[87] After criticizing the opposition presented by the PPD to the Fortuño administration, the Macheteros declared that both the local and federal agencies had been pursuing the members of the independence movement that supported armed resistance.[87] Emphasizing that, being unaffiliated to any political parties, the organization did not have anything that prevents them from holding press conferences at will, the group said that upon leaving his post Fraticelli listed the death of Ojeda Ríos and the arrests of the González Claudio brothers as accomplishments.[87] The EBP then expressed their belief that the media led by El Nuevo Día, El Vocero and Primera Hora gave the functionary a stage from which to justify the circumstances that led to the death of their former commander and place the blame on him.[87] Quoting the report by the OIG, the Macheteros cited that at least six notable errors had taken place during that operation and insisted that this proved the manipulation of the media by Fraticelli.[87] Warning that the arrests of the comrades represent an ongoing federal agenda to capture any members of the organization, which they responsibilized on a fear that there will always be armed resistance.[87] The EBP closed this communication by blaming the media of publishing "damage control" to justify the actions of the police against independentists under Figueroa Sancha and warned that their armed resistance would continue to support the "repressed" under his leadership.[87]

The Boricua Popular Army took credit for denouncing what was called "paramilitary training" that private corporation Triangle Experience Group was carrying on in the mountains of the municipality of Utuado. The media later revealed that these exercises were being done illegally, in covert fashion and lacking the required permits.[88][89]

On the sixth anniversary of the death of Ojeda Ríos, the EPB held a vigil to remember him.[6] Making a call to the masses to stop listening to a small group of leaders and advocating against political eclecticism and inter-ideological alliances, the organization urged the public to take control of the class war and employ armed resistance to accomplish independence.[6] The group criticized those that oppose armed conflict as lacking the theoretic knowledge and being unaware of the basic structure, methodology, politic-military concepts and a scientific analysis to understand the conditions precipitated by the political status of Puerto Rico. Citing "500 years of colonial experience" and "the waste of time that colonial elections have been", the EPB stated that "it is time to jump from the defensive to the offensive" in order to provide stimuli to the masses.[6] By arguing that elections "divide the left [and pushes it] towards immovilism", the group expressed that there was a need for an"ideological capacitation", remembering that Ojeda Ríos was influenced by Betances, Corretjer, Albizu Campos, CAL, ARP, MIRA, los Voluntarios, FALN and COR.[6] When discussing their perception of a class war, the EPB listed the police, FBI, Homeland Security and the National Guard as "repressive forces" that they directly oppose.[6]

The organization further cited that intelligence efforts by the United States in cooperation with the local parties had led to a system that places the individual "as an instrument" in service of the wealthy classes and had "multiplied social disorder and conformism", which is "only [confronted by] a few exceptions".[6] Quoting that its attack on the Muñiz Air base had been cited as "causing more damage [to the U.S. military] in one day than a month in Vietnam", the EBP urged the masses to mimic the actions of Lares, the attack at Sabana Seca and the FALN attack on Fraunces bar in order to "shake up the government" and "awake the people".[6] In their opinion, this would force a move away from a political environment that "forced [independentist] to live in fear of losing what little they have", expressing a lack of concern as being "labeled as radicals" and excluded by other pro-independence organizations, summarizing its posture by stating that "[they] never feel excluded due to a la of fear to losing [their] being [and] identity", "not fearing sanctions, persecution, jail or death".[6] Claiming to be ready for a "prolonged struggle" independent of "a desire for adventure" or influenced by "anarchy [and] sectarism", the EBP closed this intervention by requesting the left create an unified thesis that enables it to "move from theory to practice", by using armed resistance "to break with dependency and immovilism".[6]

A year later, in another homage the EPB remembered that Ojeda Ríos promoted a strategy of planning the group's actions while "thinking like the enemy".[5] Claiming that his final orders were to "always continue forward, because the struggle continues", the organization expressed their interpretation that this was a call for escalation following his death.[5] The EPB emphasized that Ojeda Ríos lived through several milestones in local, American, Latin American and Caribbean politics, influencing his decision to support armed resistance instead of partisan elections.[5] Reaffirming their Marxist ideology, the organization discarded the possibility of participating in future elections and claimed that only beneficiaries of them were "the bourgeois" and "small bourgeois" of the political parties. Citing Albizu's belief that the status issue was an international concern involving two distinct nations and that the Treaty of Party was a null arrangement and that consequently no law approved by the U.S. Congress was legally valid, the group discarded participation in any status referendum as well.[5] The EPB closed this communication by listing events such as the protests against the U.S. Navy in Vieques as "victories for independence" and by urging the other organizations within the movement to unite in armed resistance and accomplish the establishment of a socialist independent state.[5]

Opposition to the García administration (2013–2017)[]

On April 8, 2014, the EPB issued another statement to commemorate the birthday of Betances, this time quoting the message that Ojeda Ríos offered nine years before and citing that to them it was still as relevant.[68] Disregarding what they described as "the practice of political condencendence", the organization cited an ongoing migration to support the conclusion that the territorial status was "in decay" and asserting that this was a "clear signal" to act against.[68] Noting that not even "the most sophisticated and philosophical arguments" would be able to distance them from their current postures, the EPB stated that they would "never renounce armed resistance".[68] The organization concluded this message by warning the local and federal governments that they would continue with this strategy to "honor the martyrs".[68]

Two weeks after sociologist Carlos A. Bayón Caraballo announced that he had begun the inscription process for a party named Macheteros Unidos on April 16, 2014, the EPB distanced itself from the initiative and informed that only it and the PRTP were recognized as real "Macheteros" within the independence movement.[90] Criticizing Bayón's intention to have MU registered at the Department of State, whereas the clandestine groups have avoided doing so, the organization also disavowed the new party's platform (labeling it as the "absolute opposite [of the EPB's]") and in particular a proposal that would enable the death penalty in Puerto Rico.[90] Guasábara declared that Bayón was "an impostor" and also included the Segundo Comandante in this category, stating that this figure was never a member of the EPB and that he did not engage in conversations with Ojeda Ríos as claimed.[90] The organization concluded by noting that months before they had claimed that the COINTELPRO operation was being intensified and warned independentists to be wary of impersonators that may "cause further divisions".[90]

On March 9, 2015, Commander Guasábara issued a press release where it attacked the Value Added Tax proposal (better known by its Spanish acronyms "IVA") supported by the Garcia Padilla administration as part of its response to the Puerto Rican debt crisis.[91][92] The EPB labeled it as an initiative that promotes the migration of more Puerto Ricans to the United States and as move made by the government to replace the population with foreign millionaires to address the financial decline.[91][92] The organization expressed its belief that the IVA is a measure that is designed for independent nations and unrealistic for a territory, sacrificing the middle class and small and medium businesses in order to meet the demands of bond buyers.[91][92] Commander Guasábara concluded his exposition by warning against a divided response to the IVA, insisting that only an unified resistance could overcome the government and by warning that the Macheteros would "be there [to retaliate] in the right time" if it advanced from the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico and was adopted as law.[91][92] Facing opposition even within the PPD, the IVA initiative was postponed and instead a modified version of the current income tax was adopted until it could be reformulated.[91][92]

Later that month, the EPB issued a statement where they expressed the belief that a joint drill organized by Garcia Padilla's administration in collaboration with the federal government was in fact a military exercise that was organized to advance the Obama administration's campaign against the socialist government of Venezuela.[93] Known as Operación Respuesta Borinqueña (literally "Operation Puerto Rican Response") and held March 16–21, the training was officially described as a first response practice in an emergency involving tsunamis or a chemical attack.[93] However, Commander Guasábara expressed that a reunion held in the Dominican Republic with the official purpose of coordinating the drill was in fact a reunion between military officials of that nation, Puerto Rico and the United States, which was planned the year before with the collaboration of Venezuelan opposition leaders Carlos M. Tamayo and Carlos Fernandez (collectively known as "Los Carlos").[93] The Macheteros claims that the representatives of the Puerto Rico national guard protested when the topic was discussed, but the training went ahead unchanged with the supervision of several American generals, including the heads of the USNORTHCOM and USSOUTHCOM.[93] The statement concludes by noting that the EBP's Intelligence Division had been monitoring military exercises carried out by the United States armed forces in the municipalities of Utuado and Lares, also being aware of the presence of a military helicopter in the region.[93]

On July 11, 2015, the EPB issued another statement, this time warning that "they will do what is necessary" according to the moment's circumstances and that "the people should not pay a debt that does not belong to the people".[94] Thorough its spokesman, the group anticipated that "[in its] ineptitude and impotency" the government would exploit the crisis to privatize profits and socialize losses, citing the privatization of the turnpike system, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the Puerto Rico Telephone Company and the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge as previous examples of this tendency.[94] The EBP expressed dissatisfaction in what they perceived as "an environment of indifference" within sectors of local society that "still expect magic solutions" from those responsible for the crisis, which serves as a hindrance to the militant action that they pursue.[94] Commander Guasábara then offers an alliance that oversees previous differences.[94] In asking the rhetoric question "What would you do for yourself, your children and your country?" the Macheteros urged the public to hold an investigation and "judge those responsible" for what they consider an "irresponsible and unnecessary debt [caused by] the corrupt administrations that we have tolerated for 50 years".[94] The EPB concluded this press release by urging the public to "take the streets and manifest their anger in the way that they prefer", but not before stating that the time for marches was gone and that it is "time to take action".[94]

Commander Guasábara released a statement discussing the 10th anniversary of the death of Ojeda Ríos.[95] In it he states that at 4:15 p.m. On September 23, 2005, the EPB received a warning that the FBI was already engaging their commander and enacted a protocol to protect information and identities as well as notifying the media of the event.[95] Guasábara informed that Ojeda Ríos has known for almost a year that they were being tracked, with confidential tips warning them that agents had been seen around some of the EPB's members, while acquaintances were also under surveillance.[95] Confronted by this, he states that preemptive reunions were held to discuss this information and set measures, but Ojeda Ríos focused on the continuity of the organization after his death and disregarded suggestions to move away from his house and possibly leave Puerto Rico, insisting that he would engage any attack on his person.[95] Guasábara lamented that no legal process was held against those responsible for the FBI operative and the local authorities that cooperated with it, but insisted that "trial of the people" had been held and fortified the EPB's reputation.[95] He closed this statement by stating that the organization planned to continue following the ideology of Ojeda Ríos well into the future.[95]


Local arguments[]

Supporters of independence for Puerto Rico argue that the U.S. favored the establishment of the present Commonwealth status to create a perpetual consumer base for U.S. and foreign products and services. Foreign products and services are redirected to Puerto Rico and other "unincorporated" lands of the United States to satisfy a portion of foreign trade agreements, while allowing domestic products and services a greater "home" market share. Another argument by the independence movement is that the Macheteros are continuing the historical rebellion that Puerto Ricans such as Pedro Albizu Campos and the Nationalist Party have waged, against U.S. domination of the island. It is known, for example, that Los Macheteros deliberately chose September 12 for their Águila Blanca assault on the Wells Fargo depot, because September 12 was the birthday of Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos.[96] Beginning in the 1960s, the FBI infiltrated Puerto Rico's free press and political circles in order to monitor and disrupt efforts related to independence movements like Los Macheteros. This operation was part of COINTELPRO.[97] The EPB's rebuttal to being classified as a terrorist organization is that per the definition adopted in the 1979 Conference on International Terrorism that posits "deliberate, systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear in order to earn political gains", they do not qualify as such since their targets are strictly the American military or law enforcement and that they have never targeted civilians.[98]

Federal stance[]

The FBI classifies the EPB as a terrorist organization based on their definition of the term, "[the use of] force or violence [...] in furtherance of political or social objectives", without specification on the target.[99] In 1982, the Senate Subcommittee on the Administration of Internal Security Act compiled a paper titled "The Cuban Connection to Puerto Rican Terrorism" where it claimed that Ojeda was an agent of the Cuban government and in which the FBI knowing where he operated.[100] After the application of the Levi guidelines, only eight groups were classified as requiring full investigation.[101] Of them, five were based in Puerto Rico and besides the EPB also included the FARP, FALN, COR and MLN.[35] In 2001, then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh reaffirmed the agency's historical stance that the group committed acts of terrorism.[102]

Other assessments[]

In his book Los Macheteros: The Wells Fargo Robbery and the Violent Struggle for Puerto Rican Independence, Spanish-American author Ronald Fernández argued that based on the descriptions of terrorism and revolutionary violence in books like Benjamin Netanyahu's Terrorism: How the West can Win or Albert Camus' The Rebel, the EPB would not be classified as a terrorist organization, since that would require them to target "anyone except soldiers" and the use of fear as a tactic.[103] Whereas, the organization's target selection, namely the US military/federal government and the avoidance of civilians fits into the classification of a guerrilla or revolutionary group.[103] The author does not condone violence, but uses Camus' argument on "necessary" rebel violence as inexcusable but still "historically necessary".[104] To this end, Fernández identifies that from the EPB's point of view, the deaths at Sabana Seca were "terrible but necessary" despite personally disagreeing, while considering the destruction of military vehicles at Sabana Seca justified from a rebel's standpoint.[105] Ultimately, the author concludes that such labeling could be of political convenience to the federal government, serving to "shift the blame for any attacks on U.S. policy or personnel from us to them".[96]

Cultural impact[]

In art and film[]

An 80-minute fictional film about a Puerto Rican from New York City who declares himself a self styled machetero, titled MACHETERO, was released in 2008. Starring Not4Prophet (), as Pedro Taíno, and Isaach De Bankolé (Casino Royale, Ghostdog, Black Panther), as French journalist Jean Dumont, the film takes place in both New York City and Puerto Rico. Other actors include Kelvin Fernández (first starring role) and former political prisoner, Dylcia Pagán. The film was the winner of the 2008 South Africa International Film Festival, 2009 Swansea Film Festival, 2009 Heart of England Film Festival, 2009 International Film Festival Thailand, and the 2009 International Film Festival Ireland.[106]

The first single published by band Calle 13 was "Querido FBI", which was extra-officially released before their debut album, a response to the events of September 23, 2005.[107] It is a protest song, directly addressing the circumstances surrounding the death of Ojeda Ríos.[107] A song was also released by the Hip Hop group, X-Vandals (Not4Prophet and DJ Johnny Juice) entitled Todos Somos Machetero in 2007.

Likewise, the event led to the creation of murals. Some were painted by student movements such as one at UPR Río Piedras, whereas others were painted by urban artists.[108][109]

Other depictions[]

The polarizing nature of the organization have also been exploited in the local professional wrestling industry by wrestlers such as Israel "Joseph RPM" Rodríguez, who integrated the moniker of "El Machetero Mayor" (Spanish for "The Grandest Machetero") into his ring name and performed as such throughout Puerto Rico as a member of several independent promotions and the World Wrestling League.[110]

Notable group members[]

Name Role and hierarchy
Filiberto Ojeda Ríos Co-founder

Former leader

Juan Enrique Segarra-Palmer Co-founder
Víctor Manuel Gerena Inside man for Águila Blanca
Comandante Guasábara General Subsecretary
Current leader

See also[]


  1. ^ USSOUTHCOM ultimately relocated to Miami, Florida on September 26, 1997.
  2. ^ These units were named after Manuel Rosado, one of the flagbeares during the Lares Revolution and Francisco Gonzalo Marín, a poet who is credited with participating in the design of the flag of Puerto Rico.
  3. ^ In 2003, this fusion was completed and gave birth to the Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano.


  1. ^ a b Filiberto Ojeda Ríos (obituary), The Economist, September 29, 2005. Accessed April 5, 2006. (The Economist Printed edition: October 1, 2005; Vol. 377; Issue 8446; Page 82.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fernández 1987, p. 163
  3. ^ a b Informe Final sobre la Investigacion de los Sucesos occ=urridos en el Municipio de Hormigueros el 23 de septiembre de 2005 donde resulto muerto el ciudadano Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Archived 2014-03-25 at the Wayback Machine Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Comision de Derechos Civiles. 31 March 2011. Revised 22 September 2011. p 140.
  4. ^ a b "Muerte ilegal" la de Filiberto Ojeda. Noticel. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Mensaje en conmemoración al Grito de Lares y en homenaje a Filiberto Ojeda" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Mensaje del Ejército Popular Boricua-Macheteros: Vigilia por la Dignidad Filiberto Ojeda Ríos" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  7. ^ Héctor Andres Negroni (1992). Historia Militar de Puerto Rico. Spain: Ediciones Siruela. ISBN 84-7844-138-7.
  8. ^ Iriarte, Luis (2005-12-17). "El combate del Asomante – 12 de agosto de 1898" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  9. ^ a b Edgardo Pratts (2006). De Coamo a la Trinchera del Asomante (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Puerto Rico: Fundación Educativa Idelfonso Pratts. ISBN 0-9762185-6-9.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Fernández 1987, p. 164
  11. ^ a b Fernández 1987, p. 167
  12. ^ a b c d e Fernández 1987, p. 165
  13. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 166
  14. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 168
  15. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 171
  16. ^ a b Fernández 1987, p. 169
  17. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 159
  18. ^ a b Armando André (1987). "20 años de terrorismo en Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  19. ^ "Macheteros Aun Activos" (in Spanish). 2006-12-07. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fernández 1987, p. 170
  21. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 173
  22. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 172
  23. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 57
  24. ^ Clemency for the FALN: A Flawed Decision? Hearing before the Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives. 106th Congress, First Session. September 21, 1999. Serial No. 106–44. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  25. ^ a b c d Fernández 1987, p. 259
  26. ^ a b c d e f "Sobre la muerte del señor Néstor Rivas" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  27. ^ a b "A los pescadores y el pueblo de Vieques" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1979-01-29. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  28. ^ a b c d "Comunicado Nº 2. Recuperación Explosivos en Manatí" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
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  30. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 59
  31. ^ (1) "Radicals Say Attack on Bus Is Retaliation for 3 Deaths; Involved in Vieques Protest", New York Times, December 4, 1979. p. A11. Clyde Haberman, "Terrorists in Puerto Rico Ambush Navy Bus, Killing 2 and Injuring 10", New York Times, December 4, 1979. p. A1, A10.
  32. ^ a b c d "Acción contra la base naval de inteligencia" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1979-12-03. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  33. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 60
  34. ^ a b c d "Sobre la detención de once miembros de la FALN" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1980-04-09. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  35. ^ a b c d Fernández 1987, p. 56
  36. ^ a b c d "Operativo militar "Pitirre II"" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1981-01-13. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  37. ^ "8 Military Jets Destroyed At Air Base in Puerto Rico". The New York Times/Reuters. November 2009.
  38. ^ "Mu?iz ANGB". Retrieved March 28, 2019.
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  40. ^ a b c d "Comunicado conjunto" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1981-06-17. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  41. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 103
  42. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 160
  43. ^ Spanish – El robo de $7 millones de la Wells Fargo ("The robbery of $7 million from Wells Fargo")
  44. ^ a b c Fernández 1987, p. 174
  45. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 219
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  53. ^ Juanita Colombani (1998-04-07). "Investigan la explosion como un acto terrorista". El Nuevo Día. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  54. ^ a b c d e f "Vieques faro de luz" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 1999-10-01. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
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  57. ^ a b "Conmemoración del Día de los Mártires" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2000-07-25. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
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  64. ^ a b c "Sobre la propuesta de que San Juan alberge la sede permanente del ALCA" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  65. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Los Macheteros y la lucha revolucionaria en Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). Claridad. 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  66. ^ a b c d "Hacia la armonización independentista" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2004-11-25. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
  67. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Jesús Dávila (2010-10-12). "Macheteros listos para nuevas acciones" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  68. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Mensaje del EPB en el natalicio de Ramón Emeterio Betances" (in Spanish). University of Santiago de Compostela (Centro de Documentación de los Movimientos Armados). 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
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  72. ^ "A review of the September 2005 shooting incident involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Filiberto Ojeda Ríos" (PDF). (2.43 MB), U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Accessed January 23, 2011.
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  75. ^ "The Environmental encyclopedia: History of the Agent Orange". Retrieved 2007-05-22.
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  97. ^ More can be read on the website FBI files on Puerto Ricans Archived 2005-03-07 at the Wayback Machine, created with the assistance of Congressman José Serrano and the City University of New York's Center for Puerto Rican Studies Archived 2005-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  98. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 64
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  100. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 76
  101. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 55
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  103. ^ a b Fernández 1987, p. 176
  104. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 177
  105. ^ Fernández 1987, p. 178
  106. ^ 2009 Machetero Film Archived 2009-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  107. ^ a b Jasmine Garsd (2014-04-05). "Calle 13, On Being Loved And Hated In Latin America". NPR. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  108. ^ "A Graffiti Writer Tells It Like It Is: An Interview With Exor on the Streets of Puerto Rico". May 25, 2010. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  109. ^ "FUPI denuncia eliminación del mural de Filiberto Ojeda en UPR". Primera Hora. July 22, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  110. ^ Hermes Ayala (2014-03-11). "Mucha lucha…de personajes fantásticos y "reflejos de la sociedad"". Retrieved 2015-09-23.


  • Fernández, Ronald (1987). Los Macheteros: The Wells Fargo robbery and the violent struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0135406005.

Further reading[]

Reference materials
Primary sources

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