Carmelo Ruiz: The new wave of repression in Puerto Rico
On April 20 the FBI detained Puerto Rican pro-independence activist Orlando González-Claudio. He was driving his car along the Caribbean island nation’s Route 2 when several US government vehicles intercepted him and forced him to stop. They told him they would take DNA samples from his body and that they were fully authorized to force him to comply. If he did not cooperate they would sedate him, they said. They would sample his DNA the easy way or the hard way. González-Claudio voluntarily got off his car and entered the FBI vehicle he was led to. He was then handcuffed and driven to the San Juan Medical Center, where the samples were taken. Afterwards he was released and taken back to his car. The agents would not tell him what were they investigating, and he was not charged with anything.
González-Claudio is a member of Los Macheteros, a revolutionary organization that fights for the independence of Puerto Rico by whatever means necessary, including covert action and armed struggle. In August 1985 he was arrested along with a dozen other Macheteros and charged with participating in a heist that took place in a Wells Fargo cash depot in Connecticut in September 1983. $7.2 million ($17.2 million in 2016 dollars) were taken from the facility, making it the largest cash robbery in US history at the time. Dubbed Operation Aguila Blanca (White Eagle), the Macheteros took credit for the action and announced the money would be used to fund the political and military activities of the independence movement. There were warrants also for the arrest of two of Orlando’s brothers, Avelino and Norberto, but neither could not be found. Both would remain at large for over two decades before being apprehended.