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Page 25
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U Of I Doctoral Graduate Made Political Prisoner

By Wilfredo Rosario Gonzalez

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Being proud of one's parents is not a typical state of mind for many young people. However, special circumstances in life can change the way one visualizes a parent, notably when dignity and integrity come shining through. One example is that of Dr. José Solís Jordán-González, my stepfather, the person whom I will always call Dad.

Scores of commando gear-clad FBI "special" agents raided my home in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico soon after 6:00 on the morning of November 7, 1997. After "securing" the premises - mainly, releasing pepper spray into our backyard, pointing FBI-issue assault rifles at a sleepy ten-year-old girl, and strip-searching the "suspect," my dad was whisked away aboard an FBI car and taken to the United States Federal Building in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. There the clueless Dr. Solís was bombarded with typical interrogation-style comments: "cooperate and we'll make all of this disappear." By the third or fourth hour my dad was informed of the "accusation" against him, without him having seen his lawyer. Dr. Solís's presence in the building was unknown to any Federal employee, according to the lawyer who was crisscrossing the building during the interrogation. And to make this story even harder to believe, the FBI produced a document claiming it was written and signed by Dr. Solís: a "confession" statement.

What were the charges? Conspiracy, manufacture and transportation of illegal explosives, and destruction of government property. Where? A naval recruiting facility on Chicago's north side. Destruction was limited to a military car being burned from the inside. When? Early December 1992. The "evidence"? The accusation of a paid FBI "informant," Rafael Marrero - the publisher of an underground newspaper in Chicago dedicated to slandering several leaders of Chicago's Puerto Rican community.

Yet with the weight of such a "respectable" (lest we forget COINTELPRO in the 70s and Waco, Texas just a few years ago) law enforcement agency and the testimony of Rafael Marrero (who produced no credible evidence), my dad was convicted (March 12, 1999) and sentenced to 51 months in prison (July 7, 1999). My dad's refusal to fabricate lies against Chicago's Puerto Rican leaders led to his conviction by a jury not of his peers. That makes him a political prisoner.

For this act of courage and integrity, his human rights are violated every day. His integrity as a human being fills me with incredible pride. I know, as his son, that one day justice will be served and that day will be that much sweeter for myself and for my family. The nation of Puerto Rico will have justice served when such acts are duly recognized. El Grito de Lares, celebrated annually each September 20, has become a focal point for those who seek the only dignified solution to Puerto Rico's colonial status: independence. It represents the hope inside every Puerto Rican for the potential to be happy and dignified as an equal member of the family of independent nations - without the injustice of colonialism.

This is why a statement from a Ph.D. recipient in Education at the University of Illinois is of any importance. It fills me with a profound sense of joy to have the privilege of calling Dr. José Solís Jordán-González Dad.

Wilfredo Rosario Gonzalez is a graduate student at the University of Illinois.

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