Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

M

Macheteros (Machete Wielders)

The Macheteros, or Machete Wielders, organization was a Puerto Rican independence terrorist group affiliated with the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN). Filiberto Ojeda Rios founded the Macheteros in August 1978 to agitate for independence for Puerto Rico from the United States. Ojeda, who was born in 1933 in Barrio Rio de Naguabo, Puerto Rico, was a professional trombone player in Puerto Rico and New York City. In 1961 he joined the Cuban intelligence service, and his mission was to lead the Puerto Rican independence movement. His second in command was Juan Segarra Palmer, a Harvard University graduate and Puerto Rican nationalist. Ojeda and Segarra intended for the Macheteros to conduct operations in Puerto Rico and let the FALN operate in the United States. In their first operation the Macheteros randomly killed a policeman, Julio Rodriguez Rivera, on the beach at Naguabo, Puerto Rico, on August 24, 1978. American military installations in Puerto Rico were the main targets of bombings in 1979. An attack on a U.S. Navy bus on December 3, 1979, caused the death of two American sailors and the wounding of ten others. On January 12, 1981, members of the Macheteros destroyed eleven fighter planes at Muniz Air National Guard Base with a series of bombings.

The terrorist attacks conducted by the Macheteros were destructive and brought the group considerable public attention, but it was a Wells Fargo robbery that earned the group notoriety. On September 12, 1983, Victor Manuel Gerena, a guard for Wells Fargo in West Hartford, Connecticut, stole $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot. Gerena fled the United States with most of the money and was last reported living in Cuba. Segarra had recruited Gerena and planned the operation in detail. The funds allowed the Macheteros to buy protection and supplies. American authorities recovered only about $80,000 of the lost money.

The U.S. government used this robbery as an opportunity to destroy the Macheteros. In 1985 the government arrested nineteen members of the Macheteros. These individuals were charged with robbery of federally insured bank funds, theft from interstate shipment, and obstruction of commerce by robbery. In a series of trials lasting more than six years, fifteen members of the Macheteros were convicted of complicity in the robbery, including Ojeda and Segarra. Ojeda jumped bond in the late 1980s and disappeared underground. Segarra received a sentence of sixty-five years in prison and is still in a federal prison in Florida. He was not

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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