From the October 2005 Idaho Observer:
FBI murders elderly independence leader at his home in Puerto Rico
Witnesses claim 300 feds did not come to execute a warrant—they came to execute a man
Three hundred agents with sharp shooters surround an old man wearing a pacemaker, then swarm his farmhouse, shooting a barrage of bullets and leaving him to die on the floor in a pool of blood without calling for medical help. These are the reports coming from the island, made by eye-witnesses, but not reported here by the doddling and inept American press, again covering up for our ruthless government agencies.
by Greg Szymanski
More than 300 armed FBI agents and 20 sniper-sharp shooters last Friday opened fire on 72-year-old Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios, leaving him to bleed to death, according to eye-witnesses and autopsy reports.
But as expected, the doodling, inept and unscrupulous American press inexcusably failed the American people once again, remaining strangely silent on the story. And while a few accounts did dribble out, these one-sided FBI versions only contained inaccurate and censored facts about the bloody shootout
But in the silent background the victim’s wife and several close friends reveal the untold story, telling a completely different version about how ruthless FBI thugs pulled off what amounts to another Waco or Ruby Ridge style massacre on Rios, a well-known leader and founder of the Macheteros or Peoples’ Independence Army.
Rios’ wife, Elma Barbosa, who emerged from the house after the incident while her husband remained dying and bloody on the floor, told island officials the FBI opened fire first then allowed her elderly husband to bleed to death. Barbosa, who is openly calling for justice against her husband’s FBI murderers, was arrested, spent the night in jail but was released without charges the following day.
Rios, who had a severe heart condition and appeared to be no immediate threat to the more than 300 agents assembled, was also strangely murdered during the Grito de Lares, which is the Sept 23rd annual celebration of the island’s independence movement.
"This is all too strange and getting way out of hand. The FBI claims he shot first, but reports from my home country, including those from Filerberto’s wife and friends who witnessed the incident claim the FBI definitely opened fire on him," said Guillermo Beytagh Maldonado, a native of Puerto Rico and leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement in New Jersey.
A Cornell University graduate with a master’s degree, Maldonado said, from his New Jersey residence, that he has been receiving numerous inside reports from friends and contacts in his home country, all saying the FBI murdered Rios in cold blood as officials traced at least 120 FBI bullet holes left at the gruesome farmhouse murder scene.
"Everybody in Puerto Rico and all of us here are pissed off, including the governor of my home country," added Maldonado, who recently resigned as Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Action Social Services Board.
"The FBI agents let him die. Evidently, their tactic was not to let anybody intervene so that Rios would die. The autopsy of the Puerto Rican Forensic Science Institute confirmed he died from a bullet wound following a shot to the collarbone that penetrated his lung and that he eventually died due to a lack of medical attention."
Maldonado also said widespread FBI criticism is being leveled across the board by his fellow countrymen, saying agents cordoned off the farmhouse where Rios was located for more than 24 hours before swarming in on the old man without even allowing friends or mediators to enter in order to negotiate a peaceful solution.
"They wanted him out. This is so bad, so incredible and is just like Waco," said Maldonado, who claims he is not anti-American just anti-colonialism. "It’s just not working anymore and I’ve always felt we should be a free country ever since being invaded by the U.S. in 1898. I know I am still in the minority, but look what these ruthless agents did to Rios
"I think Bush may have been behind it. Everyone knows how he and his FBI agents cannot be trusted to work in the best interests of the people."
Rios, a musician who supposedly taught the famed trumpet player Arturo Sandoval of Cuba how to play, was killed in a farmhouse in the northern part of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, after being a fugitive for more than 15 years on what has been called trumped up and bogus theft charges.
The charges of theft supposedly were brought on as a government set-up and retribution for being found not guilty of what turned out to be a self defense killing of a Navy enlisted man in the 1980s.
After being forced to wear an ankle bracelet due to the theft charge, Rios in a display of opposition ripped off the electronic shackle on the steps of a well-known Puerto Rico newspaper, then fled to parts unknown for almost 15 years until his untimely death Friday.
"I have been closely following the story since it happened Friday and let me tell you the whole thing makes me sick," said Maldonado. "I talk to a lot of people here and in my country where I was born and raised and everybody is furious over what happened.
"I have looked very hard and the American press is not telling the story. Nothing is going out here but a few words about the incident, all of which are slanted towards favoring what the FBI did."
Maldonado said Rios was laid to rest in Puerto Rico Tuesday and followers of his independent cause in New Jersey held a vigil service at the Suydam Street Reform Church in his honor on the same day.
He added that plans are also in the works for a local rally to bring attention to the FBI massacre and killing of Rios as well as drawing attention to the growing problem in Puerto Rico over the issue of independence, statehood or continued U.S. colonization.
Syzmanski in print, over the airwaves and on the phone lines
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