Ricardo Jiménez

Ricardo Jiménez was a Puertop Rican member of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña who was sentenced to 90 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and other charges. He was sentenced on February 18, 1981, and incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. However, he was released early from prison, after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on September 7, 1999.[1]

Ricardo Jiménez
Criminal penaltySedition

Early years and personal lifeEdit

Jiménez was born in Puerto Rico in 1956. His family moved to the U.S. when he was still an infant. He attended Tuley High School in Chicago when the school was in the midst of a crisis brought about by the lack of a relevant curriculum for Puerto Rican students. As a member of Aspira and the student council he was a leader in struggles which ultimately led to the creation of the Roberto Clemente High School. Jiménez was also Vice President of the Senior Class, a member of the national Honor Society and in 1974 was chosen by the mayor as the city of Chicago's Senior High School Student of the Year.[2]

In his community Jiménez worked as a volunteer at El Rancor, a drug rehabilitation center, and on a project on housing which led to the exposure of a plan called the Chicago 21 plan, to turn the Puerto Rican community into an enclave for the high income professional class. Upon graduation he attended Loyola University and was a member of the Latin American Student Organization, which developed the university's first Puerto Rican history class. He later attended Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and was selected to represent the student body in a national conference on the need to force large U.S. corporations to open their doors to Latino engineers and other high tech professionals.[2]

Seditious conspiracyEdit

Jiménez and 11 others were arrested on April 4, 1980, in Evanston, Illinois. They had been linked to more than 100 bombings or attempted bombings since 1974 in their attempt to achieve independence for Puerto Rico.[1] At their trial proceedings, some of the arrested declared their status as prisoners of war, and refused to participate in the proceedings.[3][4]

None of the bombings of which they were convicted resulted in deaths or injuries.[1] Jimenez was given a 90-year federal sentence for seditious conspiracy and other charges.[5] Among the other convicted Puerto Rican nationalists there were sentences of as long as 90 years in Federal prisons for offenses including sedition, possession of unregistered firearms, interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, interference with interstate commerce by violence and interstate transportation of firearms with intent to commit a crime.[1] None of those granted clemency were convicted in any of the actual bombings. Rather, they had been convicted on a variety of charges ranging from bomb making and conspiracy to armed robbery and firearms violations.[6] They were all convicted for sedition, the act of attempting to overthrow the Government of the United States in Puerto Rico by force.[5][7]

In prison, Jimenez gravitated to educational programs, both as a student and as a tutor for other students. He volunteered teaching illiterate and functionally illiterate prisoners to read and write.[2]

Human rights violationsEdit

There were reports of human rights violations against the FALN prisoners. The prisoners were placed in prisons far from their families, some were sexually assaulted by prison personnel, some were denied adequate medical attention, and others were kept in isolated underground prison cells for no reason. Amnesty International and the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Administration of Justice both criticized the conditions. The conditions were found to be in violation of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.[2] A federal judge also expressed concerns regarding FALN prisoners held at the Female High Security Unit, Lexington, Kentucky. In the case of Baraldini vs. Meese, the judge found that their exceptionally restrictive conditions of detention were not in response to any legitimate security threat, and were therefore "an exaggerated response" and in violation of the prisoners' First Amendment rights.[8]

Political prisonerEdit

At the time of their arrest Jimenez and the others declared themselves to be combatants in an anti-colonial war against the United States to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. domination and invoked prisoner of war status. They argued that the U.S. courts did not have jurisdiction to try them as criminals and petitioned for their cases to be handed over to an international court that would determine their status. The U.S. Government, however, did not recognize their request.[2][4]

The sentences received by Jimenez and the other Nationalists were judged to be "out of proportion to the nationalists' offenses."[1] Statistics showed their sentences were almost 20 times greater than sentences for similar offenses by the American population at large.[2][9]

For many years, numerous national and international organizations criticized Jimenez's incarceration categorizing it as political imprisonment. [10][11] Jiménez was finally released from prison on September 10, 1999,[12] after President Bill Clinton extended him clemency.[13] Clinton cited Rev. Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter as having been influential on his decision to grant Jimenez the clemency offer.[14][15] Cases involving the release of other Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners have also been categorized as cases of political prisoners, with some [16][17][18][19] being more vocal than others.[20][21][22]

In criticizing President Clinton's decision to release the Puerto Rican prisoners, the conservative U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee also categorized Jimenez as a "Puerto Rican Nationalist", echoing a recent Newsweek article.[23] In 2006, the United Nations called for the release of the remaining Puerto Rican political prisoners in United States prisons.[24]

HIV/AIDS activismEdit

As of 2011, Jiménez lives in Chicago and works as an HIV/AIDS counselor for the Latino HIV/AIDS support agency, Vida/SIDA, a project of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.[25] He is also active in the movement for funding of HIV intervention/prevention for the Latino community and for LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer) rights. Jiménez is currently an openly gay man, as he has discussed in a radio interview.[26]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" by John M. Broder. The New York Times September 8, 1999
  2. ^ a b c d e f "ProLIBERTAD. ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995". Hartford-hwp.com. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  3. ^ Prendergast, Alan. End of the Line. Denver Westword, July 12, 1995. Retrieved on 2008-11-21
  4. ^ a b Torres, Andrés; Velázquez, José Emiliano (1998). The Puerto Rican movement: voices from the diaspora. by Andrés Torres. Temple University Press. 1998. Page 147. ISBN 9781566396189.
  5. ^ a b "United States Department of Justice. Office of the Pardon Attorney: Commutations of Sentences". Justice.gov. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Eleven Puerto Rican Nationalists Freed from Prison" CNN. September 10, 1999
  7. ^ Puerto Rican Inmate Has No Regrets For His Terrorist Actions" by Charles J. Hanley. The Seattle Times May 10, 1998
  8. ^ Susler, Jan (1989). "High Security Unit in Lexington, KY" (PDF). Law and Liberation. 1 (1). Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  9. ^ Torres, Andrés; Velázquez, José Emiliano (1998). The Puerto Rican movement: voices from the diaspora. by Andrés Torres. Temple University Press. 1998. Page 149. ISBN 9781566396189.
  10. ^ "Peoples Law Office. Puerto Rico.". Peopleslawoffice.com. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  11. ^ Cable News Network (CNN). Eleven Puerto Rican Nationalists Freed from Prison. September 10, 1999.
  12. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons. U.S. Department of Justice. Inmate Locator". Bop.gov. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  13. ^ "United States Department of Justice. Press Release. August 11, 1999". Justice.gov. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  14. ^ "CNN. FALN prisoners another step closer to freedom: Clinton condemned on Capitol Hill for clemency. September 9, 1999". Cnn.com. 9 September 1999. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Puerto Rican Nationalists Freed From Prison" by Charles Babington. The Washington Post September 11, 1999, Page A2.
  16. ^ United Nations General Assembly. Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Calling on United States to Expedite Puerto Rican Self-determination Process: Draft Resolution Urges Probe of Pro-Independence Leader’s Killing, Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Clean-up, Decontamination of Vieques. June 12, 2006.(GA/COL/3138/Rev.1*). Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York. Special Committee on Decolonization, 8th & 9th Meetings. (Issued on 13 June 2006.) The Approved Text reads, in part, "As in previous years, ...the Special Committee called on the President of the United States to release Puerto Rican political prisoners..." (page 1)
  17. ^ Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York. Guide to the Ruth M. Reynolds Papers: Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. August 1991 and December 2003. Updated 2005. Archived 2010-07-15 at the Wayback Machine Reviews Puerto Rico - U.S. relations, including cases of Puerto Rican political prisoners.
  18. ^ Vito Marcantonio, U.S. Congressman. In his August 5, 1939, speech before Congress titled Five Years of Tyranny. (Recorded in the Congressional Record. August 14, 1939.) Archived January 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine In the words of Congressman Marcantonio, "There is no place in America for political prisoners...When we ask ourselves, 'Can it happen here?' the Puerto Rican people can answer, 'It has happened in Puerto Rico.' as he spoke about the treatment of Puerto Rican Nationalist and U.S. prisoner Pedro Albizu Campos. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  19. ^ Chicago Sun-Times. Puerto Rican community celebrates release of political prisoner. Archived July 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Report states, "Chicago's Puerto Rican community celebrates the release of political prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres..."
  20. ^ "Fox News Network. Puerto Rican Nationalist Sentenced to 7 Years for 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery in Conn. May 26, 2010". Foxnews.com. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  21. ^ "Carlos Alberto Torres, Puerto Rican Nationalist Imprisoned In Illinois For 30 Years, Returns Home To Puerto Rico" The Huffington Post July 28, 2010
  22. ^ "Lolita Lebrón, Puerto Rican Nationalist, Dies at 90" b Douglas Martin. The New York Times August 3, 2010
  23. ^ U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee. Al Gore: Quick to Condemn "Arms-for-Hostages," but What About "Terrorists-for-Votes?" September 21, 1999. Archived March 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ United Nations General Assembly. Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Calling on United States to Expedite Puerto Rican Self-determination Process: Draft Resolution Urges Probe of Pro-Independence Leader’s Killing, Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Clean-up, Decontamination of Vieques. June 12, 2006.(GA/COL/3138/Rev.1*). Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York. Special Committee on Decolonization, 8th & 9th Meetings. (Issued on 13 June 2006.)
  25. ^ "Gay Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, and G8 Broken Promises on Access to AIDS Meds." Out FM (WBAI 99.5 FM, New York City), April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  26. ^ "Ricardo Jimenez PR Gay Nat." YouTube April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011.