yasmin hernandez welcome

Memorial altar that I created for the Filiberto tribute event held in New York City on November 18, 2005.



Mixed Media on Canvas
40" x 30"

Filiberto Ojeda Rios, featured in this portrait with the Machetero logo, was the commander of El Ejército Popular Boricua-Los Macheteros, an armed clandestine organization fighting for the liberation of Puerto Rico. Having been arrested and awaiting trial, on September 23rd, 1990, (the anniversary of the 1868 revolution for Puerto Rican independence, El Grito de Lares) Filiberto somehow removed an electronic monitoring device, that had been placed on him by the feds, and went underground. Living in clandestinity he became a mysterious legend in Puerto Rico where many folks talked about their Filiberto sightings, who had to give up his beloved trumpet-playing to protect his identity. Though many saw him in public areas, the feds seemed to not be able to catch him. From time to time Filiberto would send communiques that would air on the radio or be printed in the papers. Filiberto even managed to record and air a television interview with journalist Daisly Sanchez. Daisy Sanchez had to endure a trial for her unwillingness to give up details regarding his whereabouts, but more importantly they were details she did not have. She also went on to fight for the rights of journalists in the face of repressive law.

Perhaps his most important communique was scheduled to be aired in Lares for the anniversary of El Grito de Lares, September 23rd 2005. But as the crowd gathered to hear his words, the FBI surrounded his home in the quiet western Puerto Rico town of Hormigueros where he was known to his vecinos as a gardener. Having spent his life as a soldier in the war which the US declared on Puerto Rico in July 25th, 1898, Filiberto put on his fatigues, combat boots and bullet proof vest to confront the enemy. A shoot-out ensured. His wife, Elma Beatriz Rosado Barbosa was able to escape but Filiberto, took a sniper bullet to the clavicle. Knowing he was down, the FBI denied him medical attention and left Filiberto alone bleeding inside his home. Found laying on the ground in his combat boots and fatigues, with one hand over his chest attempting to contain the blood flow, Filiberto had bled to death.

The feds chose to assassinate him on the 137th anniversary of El Grito de Lares, a day that is sacred to the entire independence movement and all of Puerto Rico. It was also the 15th anniversary since Filiberto had gone into clandestinity. Lastly, it was exactly one month after a Filiberto interview published in Claridad newspaper in Puerto Rico resulted in a wave of renewed support for him and his movement.

More importantly, on that same day Filiberto warned us about falling prey to divisiveness. His message was that we all unite, no matter our tactics, no matter our interests, to collectively achieve the ultimate goal for the independence of Puerto Rico.

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