Rafael Cancel Miranda is an iconic figure in his beloved Puerto Rico. Part of the nationalist commando attack on the U.S. Congress in 1954, he served 25 years in prison with his comrades until pardoned and released by President Carter in 1979 amid intense international pressure. Coming from a staunch nationalist family background, Cancel Miranda is now the elder statesman of the Puerto Rican independence movement, providing guidance and at times fiery motivation. Though living in a society politically divided among supporters of statehood, Commonwealth, and independence, Cancel Miranda is consistently approached by people on the street of all political persuasions who express admiration and respect. His longevity, involvement, and knowledge of Puerto Rican politics and its legendary leaders make him a central figure to understand when examining the question of Puerto Rico’s independence.González Cruz asserts that Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalism has sustained an effective cultural and political resistance through the use of propaganda armada (armed struggle), political participation in the diaspora, and capturing the attention of the international community at various forums. What thoughts can you share on this?The stronger our Boricuas are in U.S. exile, the stronger our struggle. As [pro-independence activist Juan Antonio] Corretjer put it, we are Puerto Rican even if born on the moon, and there are Puerto Ricans living in Chicago, New York, or any part of the United States, and they continue being Puerto Rican—this is their homeland, we are one nation. The colonial question has forced many to leave without really wanting to. One of the reasons I am talking to you here in my home in Río Piedras is thanks to those Boricuas in the United States from the FALN who in their communiqués demanded the freedom of the five nationalists, and I am one of them.The book speaks about Filiberto Ojeda Ríos’s belief that revolutionary violence is a response to state violence, about conquering state power, and that this implies a transformation of the country so that everyone would be able to participate in the democratic process. What thoughts can you share on this?
First, Ojeda Ríos was a man of peace, but of peace with justice. If someone violently attacks your loved ones, then that gives you the right to defend them with violence by any means necessary, right? But in this system, the only ones who have the right to use violence are the powerful and their lackeys, not the people. When the people defend themselves, they are terrorists, but the powerful can commit all kinds of abuses against the people, like recently the clubbing of the young students [protesting neo-liberal education policies] in Canovanas, mere high school kids. But that is not considered violence by the state; that is just “democratic violence.” I agree with Ojeda Ríos that revolutionary violence is a product of reactionary violence—the violence of the powerful who want to dominate and exploit the world. I also agree with his call for the unity of all our patriotic forces. The more united we are, the stronger we are; the more divided we are, the weaker we are. Ojeda Ríos constantly called for the unity of our patriotic groups. It is not a whim but a necessity if we wish to save ourselves as a people.What is the major obstacle to obtain that unity?Colonialism itself. Colonialism creates frustration and confusion. It’s difficult to defeat because it is a creation of the very same colonial system that divides us. Sometimes they install people within the movement to divide us. Sometimes there is frustration, but we should never get frustrated because we are fighting for something worthwhile. We must see ourselves as brothers. Fidel [Castro] recently said something that I enjoyed very much: “We can be friends although we have our differences.” Sometimes we forget that and we become our own worst enemies instead of fighting the real enemy.Today they have even more methods to control even our psyches through the almost complete control of the media. They want to transform the schools into nests of yanqui assimilation so that people lose their identity as Boricuas. They are de–Puerto Ricanizing us. But in spite of 114 years of colonialism, and all of this, there are still young people who struggle. I have said it a thousand times in different countries I have visited, like Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. I am proud of my people because the struggle continues even though they have come at us with everything in order to decimate us as a people.The book discusses several victories won throughout the modern history of Puerto Rico’s independence movement, including the popular struggles to end the U.S. Navy’s use of Vieques island as a bombing range, to release political prisoners, to end corruption in the pro-statehood party, and to protect the Valley of Lajas from its use as a Navy radar site. What connection do you see between these victories and the assassination of Ojeda Ríos and other actions they have taken against the people?This is what the U.S. government always does when they see a people who are rising up. They try to terrorize them. They have seen that there have been victories and that thousands of people are willing to march for the freedom of the prisoners. The Vieques campaign demonstrated that people were not afraid to struggle. So they had to use what they always use: the mafia, the gun, to instill fear. But despite all they have done to terrorize the people, this country is no longer terrified.
[ed notes:also read.. The pseudo plebiscite - cheating on Puerto Rico... - thenakedfacts also i was sent a comment from a teacher in Puerto Rico representing the Independence Movement(see comments at end of pseudo plebiscite link) to take place in NYC in 2013...i will be going (insh'ALLAH)to show my support for the noble cause..FREE PUERTO RICO!