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“Nosotros No Tenemos Armas Para Echar A Pique Sus Fuerzas Navales,
Pero Tenemos el Arma de Echar a Pique Su Prestigio en El Mundo.” Albizu 1930

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Essential things about being Puerto Rican…

Mari Mari Narváez
September 19, 2008
El Nuevo Día

I can almost hear the first news of the day. The commentator will assume a semi-solemn tone and will recall: September 23. He will end his honorific mention in the first segment and, as time will “betray” him, he will pass on to the next topic after a brief commercial.

Only a couple thousand independentistas-the same ones every year-will gather at Lares and Hormigueros while the rest of the country goes about its business.

And nevertheless, the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda at the hands of the FBI will never languish. Like particles of oxygen in the air, it will forever remain impregnated in the deepest humming of our conscience.

Many Nationalists of the 50’s had something in common during their childhood: the incessant memory of the massacres of Río Piedras and Ponce, and since then, the terror of the Rhoads case, when a letter revealed that the North American doctor admitted injecting cancer into Puerto Ricans. The assassins were never accused. Life seemed to go on as if nothing had happened.

And nevertheless, two decades later, there was this persistent humming that guided eleven Nationalists toward the Fortaleza, Blair House and the United States Congress, in respective attacks that changed forever the perception that we Puerto Ricans were lifeless.

I barely mention it. Only from time to time do I talk about it with someone close. But not a single day passes that I don’t remember that night of terror when an official gang of assassins landed, occupied a community, shot a man and left him to bleed to death. A man who it was impossible to make disappear. And it’s not just me saying it, but tens of thousands of people who, from San Juan to Naguabo, rendered homage to one of the greatest revolutionaries of this epoch.

There are many laments, atrocious memories, pain in excess. But no one in this country can undo what was lived that day. As with Río Piedras and Ponce, Maravilla and Vieques, the 23rd of September will guide our steps. And that of those hundreds of little boys and girls who also lived it, and who that day began to comprehend some essential things about being Puerto Rican.

Purchase your Reyes Magos Plate by Oscar to benefit the children of Vieques

Read "Between Torture and Resistance"

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