Magazine article The Nation

Puerto Rico Raid

Magazine article The Nation

Puerto Rico Raid

Article excerpt

"We will not yield or succumb, nor will we respond to terrorist violence with equally repressive measures. Instead, we will seek by lawful means to identify, arrest and prosecute those who defy our laws." So said Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d and F.B.I. chief William Webster in a joint communique announcing the arrest of eleven Puerto Rican nationalists accused of participating in the September 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut.

In the predawn hours of August 30, heavily armed F.B.I. agents in cars and helicopters fanned out across Puerto Rico. The 200 Feds arrested eleven people, confiscated papers from the houses of some twenty others and impounded the printing press of Pensamiento Critico, a leftist magazine based in Rio Piedras.

Coqui Santaliz, a journalist, poet and past president of Puerto Rico PEN, was one of those whose homes were raided, and her experience was typical. At 6:30 A.M. she was rousted from her bed at gunpoint, prevented from dressing or using the toilet and denied permission to make a telephone call. Although a search warrant had been issued, the agents did not have it with them. Nevertheless, they seized manuscripts and photographic negatives that Santaliz was to use in a study of Puerto Rican culture. The mood turned distinctly unpleasant when an agent found her script of an antinuclear play for children. The appearance of the word "bomb" in the text set off much shouting and gun waving. The agents lingered in her house (and those in the helicopter hovered over it) until late afternoon. …

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