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Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña

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Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña
Participant in Puerto Rican independence movement
Logo and flag of the FALN
LeadersFiliberto Ojeda Ríos 
Area of operationsUnited States
BecameBoricua Popular Army (Macheteros)
Opponent(s)United States Government of the United States

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 complete 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 was led by Filiberto Ojeda Ríos[2] and served as the predecessor of the Boricua Popular Army. Several of the organization's members were arrested and convicted for 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 communist state.[4][5][full citation needed] The organization's ideological basis consisted of five reforms that they expected to implement:[6]

  1. Directing the armed and political struggle in accordance with the Marxist-Leninist principle of a broad front including a popular sectors willing to [ join ] the armed struggle right away
  2. Agglutination of all forces based upon the principle of coordination between political work and military work under the leadership of a party composed of combatants assigned to different tasks
  3. Application of the principle of internal ideological debate, a study of Marxist-Leninist ideology and the use of criticism and self-criticism
  4. Implementation of the Stalinist ideological position on the concept of "nation" with regard to American reality
  5. Application of the principle of the priority of the struggle for independence of Puerto Rico over any question of internal solidarity, demanding concrete support for our armed struggle as a priority matter in the international struggle against colonialism


The Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional was founded in the 1960s under the leadership of Filiberto Ojeda Rios.[2] They were one of several organizations established during this decade that promoted "clandestine armed struggles" against the United States government that the movement described as the "colonial forces of the United States".[2] The group was founded following decades of alleged harassment, attacks, illegal imprisonments and assassination against members of the Puerto Rican independence movement.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[7] 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".[7] Both fronts were supported and maintained by allies within Puerto Rico and North America.[7]

The group openly expressed their opposition towards any government that was guided by any other system besides the Marxist–Leninist principles and rejected any kind of support or solidarity towards the Puerto Rican independence coming from the government of these countries.[8] Of these countries they accused the governments of Mexico and Venezuela directly, expressing that the actions taken by these governments were hypocritical in origin, citing that while the Venezuelan government supported the independence of Puerto Rico they also supported the regime led by José Napoleón Duarte in El Salvador.[8] The group went further and claimed that the Venezuelan government was a "protector and enforcer of the Yankee imperialist plans to expand their grip in the Caribbean and Central America" and claimed that Venezuelan Army was receiving modern weapons in exchange.[8] In their fifth communique the FALN expressed their dislike for several agencies of the United States government, they mentioned the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Immigration.[9] They claimed that the Department of Immigration was trying to blame the use of a failing economic system on the Chicano population, and that it was responsible for massive deportation and repressive action against Chicano and Mexican workers.[9] In the communique the organization also expresses their confidence on the ability of the group's mobile guerrilla units to attack any location within the continental United States.[9] Regardless of their activism against the American government the FALN extended friendship and solidarity towards the United States working class, whom they described as "allies in the struggle against Yanki fascism".[10] They said that the reason for this was that the American working class was being pushed out of work forced to unemployment while the nation's corporations were gaining billions of dollars in profits.[10] The FALN used some of their communiques to advertise other causes that they felt were fair, including support towards the government of Panama when this country wanted the control of the Panama Canal.[10]

FALN Pardons of 1999[edit]

On August 11, 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton offered conditional clemency to sixteen members of the FALN convicted for conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to bomb-making, and sedition, as well as for firearms and explosives violations.[11] 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 was a longer sentence than such crimes typically received, according to the White House.[12] Clinton offered clemency, on condition that the prisoners renounce violence, at the appeal of 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Jimmy Carter, the Archbishop of New York, and the Archbishop of Puerto Rico. The commutation was opposed by U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and criticised by many including former victims of FALN terrorist activities, the Fraternal Order of Police,[13] and members of Congress. Hillary Clinton in her campaign for Senator also criticised the commutation, although she had earlier been supportive.[3][14][15]

The activist 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.


(not exhaustive)

Date Description Reference(s)
1974-12-11December 11, 1974 Angel Poggi, a police officer, lost an eye and was permanently disabled by one of FALN's bombs at 336 East 110th Street in East Harlem in New York City. [16]
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. [17]
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. [16][18]
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. [19]
1977-8-3August 3, 1977 FALN bombs exploded on the twenty-first floor of 342 Madison Avenue in New York City, which housed Defense Department security personnel, as well as the Mobil Building at 150 East Forty-Second Street. The first attack came at 11:30 when an employee noticed a handbag left on a window sill. He found a clock-like device and alerted fifty co-workers to flee the office. The bomb went off twelve seconds later, blasting the office doors off their hinges, but causing no injuries. An hour later, the Mobil bomb killed Charles Steinberg, a partner in an employment agency in the building, and injuring eight others. The FALN warned that bombs were located in thirteen other buildings, including the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. One hundred thousand office workers were evacuated. Eighty more crank calls were received in Brooklyn. On August 4, New York Police announced the arrest for illegal possession of a shotgun, revolver, and one hundred rounds of ammunition of David Perez, twenty-seven. His roommate, Vincent Alba, twenty-six, was also questioned. Marie Haydée Beltrán Torres, twenty-two, was charged by federal authorities with the Mobil bombing. A federal grand jury in Chicago on September 7 indicted her husband, Carlos Alberto Torres, twenty-five, and Oscar Lopez Rivera, thirty-four, on conspiracy and a "variety of explosive related charges." [20]
1977-8-8August 8, 1977 A bomb attributed to FALN was found in the American Metal Climax (AMAX) building in New York City. [16]
1977-6-9June 9, 1979 FALN exploded a bomb outside of Shubert Theatre in Chicago, injuring five people. [16]
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. [21]
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]

Known group members[edit]

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. ^ a b c d e f "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.
  3. ^ a b Chris Black (1999-09-05). "First lady opposes presidential clemency for Puerto Rican Nationalists". CNN. 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. ^ Holcomb, Raymond W. (2011). Endless Enemies: Inside FBI Counterterrorism. University of Nebraska Press (imprint: Potomac Books, Inc.). ISBN 978-1-59797-361-8.
  6. ^ "Political Position" (pdf). Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  7. ^ a b c Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (1974-10-26). "Communique No.1" (pdf). Latin American Studies. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  8. ^ a b c Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (1982-02-28). "Unnamed communique" (pdf). Latin American Studies. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  9. ^ a b c "Communique No.5" (pdf). Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  10. ^ a b c "Communique #6" (pdf). Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional. 1975-10-27. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  11. ^ "News Advisory #352". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Burlingame, Debra (2008-02-12). "The Clintons' Terror Pardons". The Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ "12 Accept FALN Clemency Deal". CBS News. September 7, 1999.
  16. ^ a b c d e "List of FALN perpetrated bombing and incendiary incidents" (pdf). Latin American Studies. December 15, 1997. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  17. ^ Edward D. Reuss. "Terrorism in New York". Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  18. ^ Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (1975-04-02). "Communique #4" (PDF). Latin American Studies. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  19. ^ Delaney, Paul (June 6, 1977). "LOOTING, VANDALISM FOLLOW CHICAGO RIOT". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Clinton Pardons Terror". The New York Post. 1999-08-13. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
  21. ^ The Milwaukee Journal headlines. October 18, 1979

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.

External links[edit]