Sunday, January 18, 2009

What makes a terrorist?

Yeah I know it's been awhile. Sorry...

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Ronald Reagan

I think this an interesting point made by Ronny. George Washington and Tommy J were definitely terrorists to the British Government. It's not really debatable. So what do "they" mean when they refer to people as terrorists. You know "they" the media, government, your next door neighbor. To be honest I don't know. What I do know is that some people are called terrorists at one point and considered heroes later on. Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist. Yasser Arafat was considered a terrorist and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

I think this is a lengthy conversation that perhaps we can could continue it in another segment but today I want to talk about a specific group of so-called terrorists.

On March 1, 1954 Lolita Lebrón, Irving Flores, Rafael Cancel Miranda, and Andrés Figueroa Cordero entered the chambers of the US House of Representatives and opened fire. For real. 30 bullets were fired and 6 people wounded. Lebrón, the leader of the mission declared: "I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!"

Now for those who don't know. Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world. It has been a colony since 1492. Many of us believe that Puerto Rico should become a free and independent nation. As a kid I remember endless conversations about the independence of Puerto Rico. Those of us that believe in the Puerto Rican Independance are called Independentistas. I'm very proud supporter of Independance.

So were the four people I mentioned earlier. In this modern age of terrorism and counter-terrorism it's hard to imagine such a brazen attack. Also the way surveillance has progressed it seems almost impossible...

Here's my point. In 1979, Jimmy Carter pardoned Lolita Lebrón, Irving Flores and Rafael Cancel Miranda (Andrés Figueroa Cordero had been released earlier for medical reasons). Did you read what I just said. Four people entered US Congress and opened fire and they were eventually pardoned by the President of the United States. Pardoned people. Pardoned!

To this day Lolita Lebron and Rafael Cancel Miranda are heroes in Puerto Rico. Several years ago Lebron was arrested for protesting the US Naval Occupation of Vieques Puerto Rico. She was arrested with many famous people including Al Sharpton and Robert Kennedy Jr. While locked up Robert Kennedy Jr. asked to meet Lolita. He was given the opportunity and was honored. That's right the son of a former US Attorney General and nephew of a former President of the United States was honored to meet Lolita Lebron! Lebron failed to appear for her trial as she did not recognize the legitimacy of the US Federal Court in Puerto Rico and to everyone's surprise, the Federal Judge (a Puerto Rican) refused to send US Marshall's to go get her and instead went on to talk about how much his father admired Ms. Lebron.

I met Cancel Miranda in Albany, NY when I came to speak. He heard me read a poem that I wrote for my father where I say my name is Felix Reyes in his honor. I hear Cancel Miranda in the crowd say "Is that Felix?". He knew my father and remembered him even though they hadn't spoken in 20 years. Several years ago a friend of my family presented Lolita Lebron with a copy of my book and she took a photo with it. These two Puerto Rican Patriots are heroes to me as they are to many Puerto Ricans of many different political philosophies. So does that make me a terrorist? I don't think so.

But maybe Ronny said it best...