From: "Bonnie Kerness"
To: "Eddie Griffin"
Eddie, I had quite a lot of contact with Standing Deer after his release – and he did have some happy days. Some in the Native community feel that he was set up to be murdered. I just heard that Leonard was recently transferred to Lewisburg, but I have not investigated that. Rafael Cancel Miranda is still alive and is speaking in Philly this weekend, I think. And I made a mistake. Jose Lopez , in Chicaco, is Oscar Rivera Lopez’s brother. I haven’t heard from Kom’boa in a while either, but I do know that he had a web site. I just googled in his name and came up with a ton of stuff I don’t have the time to go through. It was so good to see his photo! Got to go do some work here!
Bonnie Kerness, Coordinator
Prison Watch Project
American Friends Service Committee
89 Market Street - 6th floor
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Unforgotten Eddie Griffin
In the 1950s, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Isles had become a whorehouse for gringo imperialists, who loved to use the islands as their private playgrounds. They had turned the indigenous people into dispossessed maids and servants and prostitutes.
Long before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara had a hero named Rafael Cancel Miranda. Each Christmas, Castro would send a box of Cuban cigars to Rafael on Isle of Alcatraz.
One of the most widely known and respected women from the 20th century Puerto Rican liberation struggle is Lolita Lebrón.
Lolita Lebron is arrested on March 1, 1954, after an armed assault on Congress in support of Puerto Rico’s liberation.
Photo: AP Photo
On the morning of March 1, 1954, members of the House of Representatives were meeting to discuss immigration policy and the government of democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala—a government that the CIA overthrew in November of that year. The four patriots calmly entered the Capitol building, passing through the lobby and up the stairs to a balcony designated for visitors.
As the proceedings went on, the Nationalists unfurled the Puerto Rican flag. Lolita Lebrón then shouted, “Que viva Puerto Rico libre!” Within seconds of brandishing and aiming their automatic weapons, the four revolutionaries opened fire on the U.S. Congress.
Gunfire broke out and bullets whistled through the air. Panic erupted in the chamber. Many congressional figures and their staff began screaming as they frantically pushed one another to get to the exit doors. Others avoided being shot by running to hide underneath tables and behind chairs.
Before it ended, 30 rounds were fired. Five congressmen were wounded. All government buildings were shut down, and security throughout the city of Washington was increased.
The four Nationalists were immediately apprehended. The mass media launched a campaign to demonize them and the whole Puerto Rican independence movement. The four were ultimately convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Eddie Griffin, an inmate journalist, published the story of Miranda in the Black Pride prison newspaper. The world had almost forgotten about the four Puerto Rican Nationalists, until Angela Davis created the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression. Here is the story that was told to me, reprinted in the Militant, August 14, 2006. Briefly, my heart leaped for joy that my friend and mentor, Rafael was still alive.
The last time I saw him we were on a hunger strike, started July 4, 1976, the Bicentennial anniversary. In 1977, Rafael Cancel Miranda was a Marion Brother, an internationally recognized political prisoner, along with three other of us.
July 7, 2006 – In a ceremony in Havana, Rafael Cancel Miranda was awarded the José Martí Order, the highest honor issued by the Cuban government to non-Cuban leaders.
Here is the story of my mentor in prison (1973-1976), Rafael Cancel Miranda: [Excerpt from “Puerto Rican independentista Rafael Cancel Miranda speaks in Havana: ‘I was expelled by Batista regime, embraced by Cuban revolutionaries’”]
Militant, Vol. 70/No. 30 August 14, 2006