It is political prisoner Friday at Scission. Or is it prisoner of war Friday. Often that is the debate arises when it comes to certain prisoners. Those fighting for the independence and decolonialization of the island of Puerto Rico certainly have the right to be termed prisoners of war, or so it seems to me.
Norberto Gonzalez Claudio is a 66 year old Puerto Rican prisoner of war who was captured just last May in Puerto Rico. He is accused of aiding in the 1983 Wells Fargo armored car depot in West HartfordConnecticut which was organized by Los Macheteros. The Feds say Norberto was still active with the group when arrested.
Norberto pleaded not guilty to all the charges leveled against him.
Born in Vega Baja on May 27, 1945, the second youngest of 6 siblings: 2 women, Mercedes and María Magdalena, and 3 men, Avelino, Orlando and Wilfredo. He lived in the neighborhood of Almirante Sur with his mother Cristina Claudio Narváez and his father Antonio González Vega until he was 7 years old. The family then moved to the neighborhood of Rio Abajo to “the González farm” (his family), where he stayed until he married Elda Santiago Pérez in 1979. Together they had 3 children: Elda Cristina, Susana and Carlos, and they also raised Elda’s sons Pedro and Ramón as their own.
During his childhood, he played and ran around like every child does. His father called him Captain. He always had fond memories of his father, but his mother was someone very special for him. Her serenity, firmness, strength, wisdom, the strength of a working woman that his mother embodied have been his inheritance and his pride. With her he learned love, sensitivity, and simplicity, as well as to not give in to the powerful.
He joined the struggle for social justice and the independence of Puerto Rico in the decade of the 60's while he was a university student. He was a member of the Federation of Pro Independence Students (FUPI), the Pro Independence Movement (MPI) and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP). He got his political training in the Arecibo region. He was known in his town for selling the newspaper Claridad.
He had a post on a corner of Betances Street in the center of his town, and put on activities of protest music in the plaza. He actively participated in the Vega Baja’s Garbage Collectors strike in 1970, in the student strikes of 1970 and 1971 at the University of Puerto Rico, and in the protests against the mines in Adjuntas, where he camped out for several months.
He was in clandestinity since 1985 for defending his people, his homeland, his nation, and fighting for socialism because he thinks it is the just economic model for all peoples.
He is in solidarity with Latin American countries in their restorative struggles and with all countries that struggle for their freedom and for socialism. He fervently believes and struggles for patriotic unity. “We must unite on everything we can agree on. Our differences should be left for internal discussions within each organization,” he insists.
He is a poet. He writes of his family, life, the homeland, youth, and his eternal love: his wife, to whom, as if a premonition of his future, he dedicated since the very moment they got married Don Pablo Neruda’s The Letter on the Road.
Now, he is captured by the repressive forces of the northamerican government who seek to criminalize the struggle for the independence of our people and those who defend our Puerto Rican nation.
Last June in a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder, the Partisan Defense Committee wrote,
The Partisan Defense Committee condemns the arrest and prosecution of Puerto Rican nationalist Norberto González Claudio and demands his freedom.The 66-year-old Mr. González Claudio faces over 200 years in prison—a death sentence—for the crime of dedicating his life to opposing U.S. colonialism in his native Puerto Rico. He is reputed to be a leader of the group Ejército Popular Boricua or Puerto Rican Popular Army, popularly known as Los Macheteros, which took credit for the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo armored car depot in Connecticut.Given the more than 100-year history of U.S. occupation, deprivation of democratic rights, brutal terror and frame-up prosecutions of those fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence, there is no reason to believe any of the charges against Mr. González Claudio. At the same time, we recall that money expropriated from Wells Fargo was used to buy and distribute toys to the impoverished children of Puerto Rico.In their heyday, the Macheteros were widely admired across the Puerto Rico colony nation, a respect displayed by the outpouring of opposition six years ago, when dozens of FBI agents equipped with helicopters, military vehicles and machine guns participated in the coldblooded execution of one of the founders of that group, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. The U.S. government’s efforts to condemn Mr. González Claudio to a prison death for a bank robbery over 25 years ago is part of campaign to criminalize all who would oppose U.S. imperialism and its more than a century of domination of that strategic island. We vigorously defend Puerto Rico's right to demand an end to U.S. colonialism.We demand that all charges against Norberto González Claudio be dropped and he be released immediately and unconditionally.