Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña

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Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña
LeadersFiliberto Ojeda Ríos 
Dates of operation1950–1983
Active regionsUnited States
IdeologyPuerto Rican independence
OpponentsUnited States Government of the United States
Succeeded by
Boricua Popular Army (Macheteros)

The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (English: Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN) was a Puerto Rican clandestine paramilitary organization that, through direct action, advocated independence for Puerto Rico. It carried out more than 130 bomb attacks in the United States between 1974 and 1983, including a 1975 bombing of the Fraunces Tavern in New York City that killed four people.[1]

The FALN served as the predecessor of the Boricua Popular Army. Several of the organization's members were arrested and convicted for seditious conspiracy,[2] conspiracy to commit robbery and for firearms and explosives violations. On August 11, 1999 United States President Bill Clinton offered clemency to sixteen of the convicted militants under the condition that they renounce any kind of violent manifestation. This decision drew criticism towards the Clinton administration from figures including the Office of the United States Attorney, the FBI, and the United States Congress.[3]


The group was a 1970s Marxist–Leninist militant group which fought to transform Puerto Rico into a socialist-communist form of government.[4]


The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional was founded in the 1960s. It was one of several organizations established during that decade that promoted "clandestine armed struggles" against the United States government that the movement described as the "colonial forces of the United States".[5] The group was founded following decades of persecution by the FBI, including illegal imprisonments and assassination against members of the Puerto Rican independence movement.[5] The group was part of a movement that included other clandestine organizations, including the Movimiento Independentista Revolucionario Armado, Organización de Voluntarios por la Revolución Puertorriqueña and Los Comandos Armados de Liberación, and served as predecessor for what would become the Boricua Popular Army.[5] The organization's intention was to draw attention to what they described as the "colonial condition" of Puerto Rico through armed action against the United States government and military.[5]

The modus operandi of the FALN was to perform bombing and incendiary actions and then admit responsibility through press releases. The first of these news releases announced the group's intention; in this document they admitted responsibility for attacks on several locations in New York to weaken the "Yanki capitalist monopoly", and demanded the release of five political prisoners, these were: Lolita Lebrón, Oscar Collazo, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa and Irvin Flores. In this communique the organization warns that they had opened two fronts, in Puerto Rico and the United States respectively, the goal of these were to organize a People's Revolutionary Army which they expected would "rid Puerto Rico of Yanki colonialism". Both fronts were supported and maintained by allies within Puerto Rico and North America.

FALN Pardons of 1999[edit]

On August 11, 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton offered clemency to sixteen members of the FALN convicted for seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to commit robbery, and conspiracy to bomb-making, as well as for firearms and explosives violations.[6] None of the sixteen were convicted of bombings or any crime which injured another person, and all of the sixteen had served nineteen years or longer in prison which, according to the White House, were longer sentences than such crimes typically received.[7] President Clinton offered the clemency at the appeal of 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Jimmy Carter, the Archbishop of New York, and the Archbishop of Puerto Rico, and it was conditional on prisoners renouncing violence. The commutation was opposed by U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and criticized by many including former victims of FALN terrorist activities, the Fraternal Order of Police,[8] and members of Congress. Hillary Clinton in her campaign for Senator also criticized the commutation, although she had earlier been supportive.[3][9][10] FALN prisoner Oscar López Rivera rejected the 1999 Clinton pardon. U.S. president Barack Obama later commuted his sentence, and López Rivera was released in May 2017, after 36 years in prison. He had been incarcerated longer than any other member of the FALN.

Major incidents[edit]

Date Description Reference(s)
1974-26-10October 26, 1974 NYC FALN's 5 bombs in Manhattan, the largest in the Financial District. [11]
1975-1-24January 24, 1975 FALN, through their Communique No. 3, claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Fraunces Tavern in New York City, killing four people and injuring more than 50. No one was ever charged with the bombing. [12]
1975-4-3April 3, 1975 FALN took responsibility for four bombings in New York City, by leaving their Communique No. 4 for the Associated Press at a phone booth. The four bombs went off within a 40-minute period. The first bomb exploded on 51 Madison Avenue, the New York Life Insurance Company. The second bomb exploded on 45 East Forty-Ninth Street, the Bankers Trust Company plaza. The third bomb exploded on 340 Park Avenue South, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company headquarters. The fourth bomb exploded on 5 West Forty-Sixth Street, the Blimpie Base restaurant. At least five people were injured from the bombings. [13]
1977-6-4June 4, 1977 FALN set off a bomb on the fifth floor of the Cook County Building in Chicago. The explosion occurred near the offices of Acting Mayor Michael Bilandic and of George Dunne, the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. It was Saturday, and no one was in either office. Although 250 election judges were attending a meeting on the fourth floor no one was harmed. [14]
1977-8-8August 8, 1977 A bomb attributed to FALN was found in the American Metal Climax (AMAX) building in New York City. [13]
1977-6-9June 9, 1979 FALN exploded a bomb outside of Shubert Theatre in Chicago, injuring five people. [13]
October 17, 1979 FALN sets off a bomb on the fifth floor of the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago. A second bomb is disarmed about a block away. No one is injured or killed in the attack. [15]
1977-3-15March 15, 1980 Armed members of FALN raided the campaign headquarters of Carter-Mondale in Chicago and the campaign headquarters of George H. W. Bush in New York City. Seven people in Chicago and ten people in New York were tied up as the offices were vandalized before the FALN members fled. A few days later, Carter delegates in Chicago received threatening letters from FALN. On April 5, 11 members of FALN were arrested for attempting to rob an armored truck at Northwestern University; three were linked to the raid on the Carter-Mondale campaign headquarters. [16][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambert, Laura (2011). "FALN". In Martin, Gus (ed.). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Reference. pp. 193–4. ISBN 978-1-41-298016-6.
  2. ^ "News Advisory #352". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2021-03-11.
  3. ^ a b Chris Black (1999-09-05). "First lady opposes presidential clemency for Puerto Rican Nationalists". CNN. Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  4. ^ Smith, Brent L. (1994). Terrorism in America: Pipebombs and Pipedreams. SUNY Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-079141-759-1.
  5. ^ a b c d "A Nation Will Rise". New York City Independent Media Center. 2006-09-18. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  6. ^ "News Advisory #352". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  7. ^ Rep. Dan Burton (December 12, 1999). "Findings of the committee on government reform". United States House of Representatives: Committee on Government Reform. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  8. ^ Press release: Gallegos, Gilbert G., "Letter to President William Jefferson Clinton" Archived 2004-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Fraternal Order of Police Grand Lodge, 1999-08-18
  9. ^ Burlingame, Debra (2008-02-12). "The Clintons' Terror Pardons". The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ "12 Accept FALN Clemency Deal". CBS News. September 7, 1999.
  11. ^ Lissner, Will (October 27, 1974). "Terrorists Here Set Off 5 Bombs at Business Sites". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Edward D. Reuss. "Terrorism in New York". nycop.com. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  13. ^ a b c d "List of FALN perpetrated bombing and incendiary incidents" (PDF). Latinamericanstudies.org. December 15, 1997. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  14. ^ Delaney, Paul (June 6, 1977). "LOOTING, VANDALISM FOLLOW CHICAGO RIOT". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  15. ^ The Milwaukee Journal headlines. October 18, 1979
  16. ^ United States Congress House Committee on Government Reform (1999). The FALN and Macheteros Clemency: Misleading Explanations, a Reckless Decision, a Dangerous Message: Third Report. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 16–17. House Report 106-488.

Further reading[edit]

  • James, Daniel (December 19, 1981). Puerto Rican Terrorists Also Threaten Reagan Assassination. Washington, D.C.: Human Events.
  • Mahony, Edmund (1999). Puerto Rican Independence: The Cuban Connection. The Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut (USA).
  • Mahony, Edmund (1999). The Untold Tale Of Victor Gerena. The Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut (USA).
  • Mickolus, Edward F., Todd Sandler, and Jean M. Murdock (1989). International Terrorism in the 1980s: A Chronology of Events – Volume I: 1980-1983. Iowa State University Press. Ames, Iowa (USA).
  • Mickolus, Edward F., Todd Sandler, and Jean M. Murdock (1989). International Terrorism in the 1980s: A Chronology of Events – Volume II: 1984-1987. Iowa State University Press. Ames, Iowa (USA).
  • Mickolus, Edward F. (1980) Transnational Terrorism: A Chronology of Events 1968–1979. Greenwood Press. Westport, Connecticut.
  • Pérez, Gina M. (2005). "Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN)". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society.