Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriquena (FALN)
Armed Forces of National Liberation
Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (“FALN”) was a Puerto Rican nationalist group whose activities included over 100 bombings in which six (6) people were killed and others maimed. The FALN was by far the best known of the Puerto Rican terrorist groups. The overall declared aim of the group is Puerto Rican independence or separate nationhood, an aim that is shared by less than 10 percent of the Puerto Rican population. The FALN and other Puerto Rican terrorist organizations were of particular interest, especially to the energy industry, for two reasons: (1) Puerto Rican terrorist groups struck energy facilities on their own island, (2) the FALN made a threat against nuclear targets in the United States during their seizure of the Dominican Republic's embassy in Bogota, Colombia, in March 1980.
The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN or "Armed Forces of National Liberation') is an underground terrorist organization that has operated in the continental United States (principally in the New York and Chicago areas) since late 1973. FALN was responsible for the deaths of four who were killed January 24, 1975 in the FALN-claimed bombing of Fraunces Tavern in New York City). FALN was also involved in armed robberies and has planned at least one kidnapping.
FALN received negative publicity for a bombing of a multinational corporate headquarters in which a fatality and several injuries occurred. The overall goal of terrorist groups is the manipulation of target groups in order to effect desired changes. This goal is reached through destruction, abduction, or harassment activities. These actions are planned and carried out based on systematic assessments of target and their relationship to the organizations's ideological goals. Terrorist groups attempt to avoid actions which fall beyond the scope of causes which they advocate and to avoid activities which might alienate audiences which they hope to influence positively.
United States law enforcement first learned of the existence of the FALN on October 26, 1974, the date the group issued a communique taking credit for five bombings in New York. Communique No. 1 of 26 October 1974 declared: Today, commando units of FALN attacked major Yanki corporations in New York City. These actions have been taken in commemoration of the October 30, 1950 uprising in Puerto Rico against Yanki colonial domination. These bombings are also to accent the seriousness of our demands for the release of the five Puerto Rican political prisoners, the longest held political prisoners in the hemisphere:: Oscar Collazo, Lolita ebrun, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cord and Irving Flores, and the immediate and unconditional Independence of Puerto Rico. The corporations that we bombed are an integral part of Yanki monopcapitalism and are responsible for the murderous policies of the Yanki gove ment in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and against workers, peasants and Indios throughout the world. It is these corporations which are responsible for the robbery and exploitation of Third World countries in order to make greater profit all increase their capital. They are the ones which often decide who shall govern countries, who shall live and who shall die. For these reasons these corporations and the criminals who run them are t enemies of all freedom loving people, who are struggling for self determination and the right to decide their own destinies."
At the time of the first attacks, law enforcement had no leads on who was involved with the FALN. Ultimately, over the next decade, FALN activities resulted in 72 actual bombings, 40 incendiary attacks, 8 attempted bombings and 10 bomb threats, resulting in 5 deaths, 83 injuries, and over $3 million in property damage.
Although the FALN's initial bombings may have been symbolic in nature, that soon changed. On December 11, 1974, the FALN called the New York City Police Department to report a dead body. When a policeman arrived at the abandoned tenement building to investigate, he walked into a booby-trapped explosive device. The explosion left him maimed and permanently disabled. The FALN issued a communique taking credit for the bombing, which they described as an "explosive attack against members of the police."
The communique explained that the attack was in response to the death of a fellow Puerto Rican independentista, Martin Perez, in a Florida prison. Although the FALN characterized Perez' death as an assassination, authorities statedthat he committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell. The communique warned: "[t]o make it clear, for every repressive action taken against our communities or against FALN independentistas, we will respond with revolutionary violence."
Several weeks later, the FALN struck again in what they described as a retaliatory attack for a bombing in Puerto Rico. The FALN communique called attention to their belief that the CIA had plotted the incident. Nevertheless, it was clear that the January 24, 1975, FALN bombing can be meant only to have caused death, destruction and injury, as they planted a timed explosive device to detonate during the busy lunch hour at New York City's historic Fraunces Tavern. The blast killed 4 people, injured over 60 and caused extensive property damage.
In the communique, the FALN stated, "[w]e, FALN, the Armed Forces of the Puerto Rican Nation take full responsibility for the especially detornated [sic] bomb that exploded today at Fraunces Tavern with reactionary corporate executives inside." The communique ended with the warning, "[y]ou have unleashed a storm from which you comfortable Yankis [sic] cannot escape."
In 1981 and 1983 FALN claimed no bombings, but a related group, the Puerto Rican Armed Resistance (PRAR), claimed responsibility for five bombings in 1981 in which one person was killed. Most authorities believe that the PRAR was either a faction of FALN or FALN itself operating under another name. FALN and the Puerto Rican terrorist groups with which it collaborates are Marxist-Leninist in ideology, and FALN is closely related to the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP), which is in fact the Communist Party of Puerto Rico and maintains close links to Havana.
FALN was also traditionally close to the WUO and currently may be considered a branch of the underground terrorist movement in the United States responsible for the Brinks and other armed robberies and the DC-New York bombing series. On February 28, 1982, FALN claimed responsibility in a typed communique for the bombing of four American financial institutions in New York City. The communique expressed solidarity with the three North-Americans captured in the Brinks expropriation. "By linking up with your Black comrades and making their struggle your own you have put into practice the Leninist principle which states that the duty of the working class and the advanced sectors in the imperialist countries is to actively assist and fight for the liberation of the colonies".
The May 19th Communist Organization distributed the FALN communique for five bombings in New York City on December 31, 1982 and stated that "Terms for this period of armed activity were defined when the... FALN bombed these targets in New York on that date. The above-ground Support groups of both FALN and the terrorists in the Brinks case often express support for each other. The communique for the bombing of the U.S. Capitol Building on November 7, 1983, also distributed by the MCO, stated in its last paragraph: "33 years ago almost to the day, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, two Puerto Rican Nationalists fighting for Independence for Puerto Rico, attacked another part of imperialist power -- the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the U.S. Their action was one of the first in which the oppressed brought the war back to the doorsteps of the oppressor. We salute them and all those Puerto Rican, Mexican, New Afrikan, Native American and North American freedom fighters who have been killed or captured in the struggle. To them also, our action carries a message -- our commitment to carry on the struggle".
The action to which the ARU refers in this communique is the assassination attempt against President Harry Truman on November 1, 1950 by Collazo and Torresola, two members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party which in many respects was a predecessor to the PSP. Although President Truman was not harmed in the assassination attempt, Torresola and a White House police officer were killed. Collazo was sentenced to death; this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by President Truman, and Collazo was released from prison by a further commutation of his sentence by President Jimmy Carter in September 1979.
After the first FALN communique, law enforcement agents worked diligently to identify who was involved with the FALN. The FBI formed a team of investigators that operated in the Puerto Rican neighborhoods in both New York and Chicago. However, it was not until December 1976, that they made any significant advances. Chicago police located an FALN bomb factory which led to the identification of several FALN members, including Ida Luz Rodriguez and Oscar Lopez Rivera.
All of those identified immediately went underground, leaving their previous lives behind. Although they were terrorists, planting bombs and conducting armed robberies, the FALN members also blended into the community as school teachers and government workers. They were difficult to identify because they literally led double lives. They had jobs and children and never told anyone, not even their closest family members and friends, that they were members of the FALN.
One former FALN member, Freddie Mendez, explained that, "he and his codefendants and other members did not socialize with one another. He said that they came together only for official FALN activities and then separated. When apart they occupied themselves with work, school and socialized with friends who were not aware that they were in the FALN."
One reason for the comparatively inactive state of FALN terrorism is that since 1980 some of its principal members have been apprehended. On April 4, 1980 police arrested eleven members of FALN in a raid on a safehouse in Evanston, Illinois. One of those arrested at that time was Carlos Alberto Torres, at that time the top-ranking name on the FBI's "most wanted" list. Torres and seven other FALN members were subsequently sentenced to eight years in prison for possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Two others received 30 year sentences, and Torres's wife, Maria Haydee Torres, was extradited to New York, where she had earlier been sentenced to a life term for a bombing on August 3, 1977 that took the life of one person. On May 26, 1983 Mexican federal police arrested another FALN member, William Morales, in Puebla, Mexico. Morales, reportedly the principal bombmaker for FALN, escaped from a Bellevue Hospital prison ward in 1979 after being sentenced to a ten year term for conviction of federal weapons and explosive charges. Morales lost most of both his hands in the explosion of a bomb he was constructing.
Left-wing groups, generally profess a revolutionary socialist doctrine and view themselves as protectors of the people against the "dehumanizing effects" of capitalism and imperialism. They aim to bring about change in the United States through revolution rather than through the established political process. From the 1960s to the 1980s, leftist-oriented extremist groups posed the most serious domestic terrorist threat to the United States. In the 1980s, however, the fortunes of the leftist movement changed dramatically as law enforcement dismantled the infrastructure of many of these groups and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe deprived the movement of its ideological foundation and patronage.
Terrorist groups seeking to secure full Puerto Rican independence from the United States through violent means represent one of the remaining active vestiges of left-wing terrorism. While these groups believe that bombings alone will not result in change, they view these acts of terrorism as a means by which to draw attention to their desire for independence. During the 1970s and 1980s numerous leftist groups, including extremist Puerto Rican separatist groups such as the Armed Forces for Puerto Rican National Liberation (FALN – Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional Puertorriquena), carried out bombings on the U.S. mainland, primarily in and around New York City. However, just as the leftist threat in general declined dramatically throughout the 1990s, the threat posed by Puerto Rican extremist groups to mainland U.S. communities decreased during the decade.
During the Clinton Administration, Deputy Secretary of Justice Eric H. Holder was assigned to evaluate the issue of clemency for sixteen Puerto Rican prisoners members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), Convicted and imprisoned during the 1970s and early 1980s in the United States under The sedition statutes. This movement of clemency was supported by numerous figures Prominent public figures from the United States, Puerto Rico and other countries, both clergy, Communities, organizations, members of Congress, among others. Many of these former prisoners Politicians reside in Puerto Rico. Among them is Elizam Escobar, a painter who has done Significant contributions to Puerto Rican plastic since its release.
Oscar López Rivera, born on January 6, 1943, was charged with conspiracy by the US courts after being linked to the FALN, an organization that fought for the island's independence. Lopez, who has been incarcerated for 30 years, was sentenced to 55 years’ imprisonment following his August 11, 1981 conviction for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and ammunition to aid in the commission of a felony, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.
He was sentenced to an additional fifteen years’ incarceration on February 26, 1988, for his activities in conspiring to escape from the Leavenworth federal prison. Lopez solicited unincarcerated supporters to obtain weapons, grenades, and C-4 explosives for use in breaking him and fellow inmates – to whom Lopez had boasted about his leadership role in the FALN – out of prison.
The politician, who turned 74 on 06 January 2016, spent 35 of them in jail; 13 of them in solitary confinement, without having contact with his family. And since his seclusion, he was certain of the capabilities of his country. "We can do it, if we dare to live and if we dare to fight, then we will live as a free people without colonial chains," he said. He estimated that without solving the colonial status of Puerto Rico, his citizens would not be able to enjoy "a decent, safe, productive and healthy life," instead, they would be reduced to living "like the natives in Hawaii, Alaska and Native Americans ".
"I have faith that we are capable of eradicating colonialism," said Oscar López Rivera, who is deprived of freedom in the United States for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico. In a statement released by his daughter, Clarisa López Ramos, the leader said that the human potential of Puerto Rico "will lead us to eradicate colonialism and transform our beloved homeland into the Edenic garden that has the potential to be."
In addition, the militant of the disappeared clandestine armed forces group of National Liberation (FALN) of Puerto Rico, indicated that he hoped to leave the jail. A total of 16 people related to culture, including singers Ruben Blades and Andy Montanez, asked in a video released by the newspaper El Nuevo Dia, freedom for the Puerto Rican fighter.
López Rivera was among the 14 convicted FALN members offered conditional clemency by President Bill Clinton in 1999, but rejected the offer. His sister, Zenaida López, said he refused the offer because on parole, he would be in “prison outside prison.” Congressman Pedro Pierluisi, has stated that “the primary reason that López Rivera did not accept the clemency offer extended to him in 1999 was because it had not also been extended to fellow independence prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres (who was subsequently released from prison in July 2010).
On 17 January 2017, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Rivera’s sentence, allowing him to walk free on May 17.
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