The United Church of
the Revolution Christ is meeting in Tampa this week, which means politics. According to UCC News, the convention passed a resolution called “In Support of the Release of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners.”
It seems the United States has been incarcerating a couple of guys for years for their belief that Puerto Rico should be an independent country. A summary of the resolution states:
This resolution describes the UCC’s long history of support for Puerto Rican men and women incarcerated for acts and beliefs in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico, and calls for the release of Oscar López Rivera and Avelino González Claudio.
“Incarcerated for acts and beliefs”! That’s appalling! This is America, darn it! Let my people go!
So what were the “acts” for which these two paragons of virtue were convicted and jailed? First, on Avelino González Claudio:
A key figure in the audacious robbery of $7.1 million nearly three decades ago from a West Hartford Wells Fargo depot by a Puerto Rico pro-independence group abruptly pleaded guilty Friday to charges that include smuggling the money out of the country.
Avelino Gonzalez-Claudio, 67, was a leader and strategist of Los Macheteros, a clandestine organization that advocates the use of violence to win Puerto Rico’s independence from the United States. In the 1970s and ’80s, the group claimed responsibility for armed attacks on federal interests in Puerto Rico, two of which caused the deaths of U.S. military personnel.
Internal documents seized from the group and other evidence accumulated over years of investigation showed that the group planned to use the money taken in the Sept. 12, 1983, robbery to finance a war against federal interests on the island and to support leftist insurgencies elsewhere in Latin America.
Documents captured from Los Macheteros by the FBI show that Gonzalez-Claudio held seats on the group’s two governing boards — the directive and central committees — and was among the senior members who voted to approve the Wells Fargo robbery, the group’s most highly publicized action.
Yep, he certainly sounds like a “political prisoner.” How about Oscar López Rivera?
Oscar Lopez-Rivera was one of the leaders and founders of the fringe Puerto Rican nationalist domestic terrorist group known as the FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation). In a highly controversial move in August of 1999, Bill Clinton offered clemency to 12 members of that group (including Lopez), along with four other members of their closely allied group the Macheteros (machete-wielders), who were based primarily on the island nation.
The 11 other members of the FALN finally accepted the conditions of the clemency a month later by expressing remorse (in a move that was engineered by then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder). However, in a surprising move, Lopez refused the offer. This was even after he had made two previous escape attempts (the sentence added for the second attempt would have delayed his immediate release).
Lopez had been sentenced to 70 years for seditious conspiracy and a variety of weapons charges as well as the second thwarted escape attempt (which included plans for the use of violence).
The FALN was a terrorist group that exploded over 140 bombs in the course of nine years, killing a half dozen people and injuring dozens more. But his political opinions are on the side of the angels, so it’s obvious why the UCC would be lining up behind him. You’ve got to love one of the reasons why the convention thought he should be released:
WHEREAS, as a father and grandfather, Mr. López Rivera has watched from behind bars 73 as his daughter and grand-daughter have grown up without him,
Makes you wonder if, before they passed this drivel, the delegates gave any thought to the families of the FALN’s victims, many of whom have also “grown up without” the people López Rivera helped kill.
UPDATE: Almost forgot to include this: the resolution makes no mention of the charges upon which these two terrorists were found guilty (since they’re “political prisoners,” doncha know), nor does it mention their connection to the FALN and Macheteros. But then, why would a mainline denomination let facts get in the way of political advocacy?