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NYC event on repression of Puerto Rican liberation struggle

By staff |
June 17, 2019
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Speakers at the New York City event
Speakers at the New York City event entitled “Las Carpetas: The FBI’s War on Puerto Rican Liberty.” (Fight Back! News/staff)

New York, NY - On June 16, organizers in New York City held a discussion entitled “Las Carpetas: The FBI’s War on Puerto Rican Liberty.” The event was co-hosted by New York Boricua Resistance (NYBR) and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), and featured additional comments by Jocelyn Rodriguez of Jornada: Se Acabaron Las Promesas.

The talk began with a history of the FBI’s repression of national liberation struggles, from the time of the Pinkertons up until today. Jessica Schwartz, speaking for CSFR, explained the connections between the FBI’s attacks on Carlos Montes, Rasmea Odeh, the Anti-War 23, the Black Panther Party, and other important freedom fighters. Shwartz highlighted the role activists played in supporting these political prisoners and organizers, pointing out that “what these cases show is that through mass organizing and support, we can have victories against the FBI, and must call out and expose their tactics used against those who speak out against injustice.” Shwartz, concluded her comments with some know your rights information and advice on what to do if the FBI tries to approach you for questioning.

Raphael Ezra (Rafa) and Jorge Cruz, two members of NYBR, followed with an in-depth presentation on the history of the FBI’s role in attacking the Puerto Rican independence struggle. To help clarify the reasons why the FBI has played such a devastating role in preventing Puerto Rico from gaining true freedom, Ezra said, “the FBI and the national government of the United States are very scared of Puerto Rican independence, because they’ve done nothing but steal from our people for more than 100 years, and they’re very afraid that we will break free and then they won’t be able to steal from us any longer.”

This same imperialist logic applies to the repression of the Puerto Rican struggle here in the states as well. Cruz explained that “the formation of the Young Lords Party would see Puerto Ricans born here joining the fight for independence and for better conditions for their people. The FBI and COINTELPRO couldn’t let that occur.”

The history of targeted, intense surveillance of independentistas and Puerto Rican nationalists inspired the event’s title as well, since the word “carpeta” means binder or dossier in Spanish. “The reason we called this event ‘Las Carpetas’ was to talk about the documents and folders on each fighter and organizer -when you comb through the files, you realize they really monitored every single detail of these people’s lives,” Ezra said.

Jocelyn Rodriquez from Jornada: Se Acabaron las Promesas added that the FBI currently maintains dossiers not just on the organizers involved in the independence struggle, but on their children and grandchildren as well. Rodriquez also discussed the trumped-up charges Puerto Rican activists often face, and the way that the federal courts have been weaponized as a tool to intimidate the people of Puerto Rico. Rodriquez concluded with a powerful reminder that “the Puerto Rican people know that we will be free, and that freedom will be won at the hands of the Puerto Rican people struggling on the ground, not as some gift from above.”

The event also featured a radical vocal performance by local community activist and artist Zila Renfro, who organizes as a part of the groups Harlem Solidarity and Defense and GABRIELA USA.

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