Three Puerto Rican activists were subpoenaed to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in early 2008, leading to fears of a new wave of political repression against the Puerto Rican Pro-Independence Movement.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US, giving it roughly the same administrative authority as that of a US state. While US companies have swept on to the island to exploit tax breaks and cheap labour, Puerto Ricans themselves have no representation in Congress and no vote in US presidential elections. Half the population live in poverty and a third are unemployed. The Independistas, who consider the US to be an occupying force, want full sovereignty.
The FBI and US Department of Justice are both investigating sections of the pro-independence movement, in particular the Ejército Popular Boricua (EPB – Popular Boricua Army) which is classified as a terrorist organization by the FBI. Federal agents assassinated its leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos in 2005, despite the fact that the group had not participated in armed actions for 15 years, and now wants to capture its presumed new head, Comandante Guasabara. The US-based Latin America Solidarity Coalition has condemned the latest round-up: ‘These FBI visits and subsequent serving of subpoenas are designed to put those who refuse to co-operate [in providing information] in jail, and to intimidate the Puerto Rican community as a whole.’