Friday, May 20, 2011

Oscar Lopez Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio

The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
ProlIbertad Hotline: 718-601-4751

Below this message is an announcement for the May 28th: Free Oscar Lopez Rivera
community March in the South Bronx, please scroll down to the end to see it!

On Friday May 20th, Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Norberto González Claudio wll be
arraigned at the Hartford Conn Federal Court House at 3pm. We are asking people to
stay alert.

Biography of Norberto González Claudio

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.

Arrest of González Claudio was an FBI “show”
By Perla Franco
Published Tuesday May 17, 2011

“Norberto González Claudio has dedicated his life to the struggle for the
independence of Puerto Rico. He is a patriot, not a terrorist. Keeping a nation
under the colonial yoke is a crime against humanity, according to the United
Nations. Thus, the struggle to end oppression and colonialism is patriotism, as has
been proved in liberation struggles that all the free countries of the world have
waged. We condemn the arrest of this patriot and are in solidarity with him and his

With this convincing stipulation in a press release, more than a dozen
independentista organizations convened a protest last Friday May 13 in front of the
Federal Court on Chardón Avenue in Hato Rey, while inside the building Norberto
González Claudio’s extradition hearing was taking place in magistrate Bruce
McGiverin’s courtroom.

When family members entered McGiverin’s courtroom, González Claudio was already
there, his hands and feet shackled, dressed in a beige jumpsuit and phosphorescent
orange tennis shoes, the uniform the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). His wife,
sister-in-law, children and grandchildren were seated on the opposite side of the
courtroom. An agent entered and handed the family “an object of value the arrestee
had when he was detained,” and went on to hand his wife a wedding ring. When his
five year old grandson noticed that his grandfather was in the room, he said out
loud, “look at Grandpa over there.” A little later, the hearing, which would last
around two and a half hours, began.

The hearing began with the magistrate denying the request from one of the defense
lawyers, Juan Matos, to postpone the hearing because he hadn’t had enough time to
meet with González Claudio.

FBI agent gives his version of the arrest
Assistant U.S. Attorney Warren Vázquez’ first witness was an “FBI special agent” who
identified himself as David González. He detailed that he was in San Juan when a
task force located in Guavate, Cayey called him to say they had seen someone they
thought was González Claudio. He assured that this group was involved in efforts
unrelated to González Claudio’s arrest. Later, in response to cross-examination, he
said it took him some 25 minutes to get to the place where González Claudio was
exercising in a community park on Highway 184, and that he identified him by the one
droopy eyelid González Claudio was known to have, and by his left leg being much
shorter than his right leg.

The agent claimed to be familiar with the file of the accused, who he identified as
a Machetero, an organization he said was founded in 1975, and which in 2005 the U.S.
government labeled as terrorist. He added that the charges against him were for
conspiracy to commit robbery. He stated that when he approached him to arrest him,
he said, “hey mister, look at me, come with me.” He said González Claudio took a
deep breath, looked behind, and the agent said, “don’t do this to me,” and that
González Claudio moved his head and went toward the steps where the agent told him
“sit down.” He said González Claudio smiled and said, “you caught me.” According to
the agent, González Claudio had several false names, including Carmelo Vélez Moya,
which he used to get a drivers license at the end of 1990.

According to his story, after the arrest, he was taken to the office of the head of
the FBI, Luis Fraticelli. The defense attorney asked why he was taken there, since
that isn’t the procedure. The agent responded that he’d received orders from his
supervisor to do that. He related that while there, Fraticelli asked him if he
needed medication, and if he was in good health, and he commented that he looked
like his brother Avelino, to which the arrestee allegedly responded, “we’re from the
same blood.” He said Fraticelli asked if he wanted to speak with his family, and
that González Claudio said he did. From right there, with the speakerphone on, he
called his wife and told her he was in Fraticelli’s office, and that he was ok. From
there they took him to booking, and when they asked him to sign, the arrestee signed
his name as Norberto González.

The government also called probation officer Patricia Encarnación Miranda, who said
that when she interviewed the arrestee and told him to sign his name, he wrote
Norberto González. The defense argued, and it was corroborated by the agent who
conducted the arrest, that González Claudio was never read his rights, not when they
arrested him, and not when Fraticelli tried to talk with him, questioning him, which
the defense said violated his right not to incriminate himself.

In closing arguments, the defense attorney urged that until extradition, González
Claudio be placed under 24 hour a day house arrest. But the magistrate said the
accused was a “dangerous” person due to “his philosophical vision and that of the
political organization he belongs to.”

At the end of the hearing, his family, guarded by an agent, was instructed not to
leave the courtroom until the accused had left. González Claudio walked by them,
leaning his body and throwing a kiss to his five year old grandson, who at the time
was two or three steps away. The child responded, shouting, “I love you, Grandpa,”
and immediately asked the attorney who came after, “Why didn’t they let my grandpa
go?” The attorney answered, “I tried, but I couldn’t. They decided not to let him
go.” And the child said, as if it were a child’s game, “well, you had to hide.”

Agent claims they found weapons
Agent González added, in response to the U.S. Attorney’s questions, that in the
search of González Claudio’s alleged residence in Guavate, at his bedside they found
two revolvers and a loaded automatic rifle with additional ammunition, in addition
to two bulletproof vests. The agent didn’t answer defense questions about the number
of agents who participated in the operation, as the government objected that it was
“irrelevant,” and the magistrate sustained the objection. During cross-examination,
the defense managed to obtain information that the agent had been working for two
years for the U.S. Attorney in San Juan, and that prior to this arrest he hadn’t
done any other work in that place. Sometimes the agent, who responded to the
government’s questions with aplomb and firmness, responded to cross-examination
looking more disjointed, confused, and nervous, and asked that questions be
repeated. At those times, he looked at the Assistant U.S. Attorney as if he were
looking for approval. It seemed as though he hadn’t read the charges against
González Claudio.

Family embraces the arrestee
A second government witness was Samuel Santana, who identified himself as a National
Security special agent in San Juan, and who claimed to have been investigating the
Macheteros since 1995. He said that since then he had references about González
Claudio, whose 1985 photo he carried with him. He said he was the one who received
González Claudio’s wife when she came to the federal building after his arrest. And
he said he recognized Norberto’s brother Orlando, who he approached and asked if he
wanted to see his brother, to which Orlando said he did, because he hadn’t seen him
in years. He stated that he allowed them both, along with Norberto’s brother-in-law,
to be present during Norberto’s booking. He stated that Orlando hugged Norberto, and
that Norberto smiled but didn’t otherwise move, as he was handcuffed.

The federal charges against Norberto González Claudio at the time of his arrest on
May 10 don’t directly tie him to the theft of $7.2 million from Wells Fargo in
Connecticut. Essentially he is charged with the FBI identifying him as a member of
the clandestine independentista organization The Macheteros. Many consider that his
arrest was an FBI show to improve the agency’s image.

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