BlackEagle/BlackEagle Logistics & Procurement Branch, Data Support Section
Results of Criminal Organizations Database Search: Macheteros
(Also... Some alternate names are aliases, other are names for specific subgroups or
Ejercito Popular de Boricua
Boricua Popular Army
Popular Army of Boricua
Source: CIA, MI-6
Type: Political terrorist organization.
The Macheteros are a tightly organized and extremely violent Puerto Rican separatist
group that has targeted primarily US military personnel and Puerto Rican police.
Direct ties of the Macheteros to other groups operating in Latin America have not been
established. There is apparent cooperation with another Puerto Rican separatist group
called the Organization of Volunteers for the Puerto Rican Revolution
[#CR0003591]. The two have made joint claims following some attacks. [MI-6] The
Macheteros probably also have links to the Armed Forces of National Liberation
[#CR0003879], a Puerto Rican separatist group that has conducted anti-US attacks for
over three decades. [CIA]
Personnel: Unknown, believed to be less than 40. [CIA]
An organized group of scattered cells, numbering eight to ten operatives each. The
group has tight internal security procedures and precisely executes its attacks.
Smallarms, explosives and some military equipment. Good intelligence and support
capabilities. Robberies and thefts evidently provide a major source of funds. The
Macheteros also may receive donations from ideological backers.
Suspected Criminal Activity:
Since 1978, the group has carried out a few very competently executed terrorist actions
that can be considered armed propaganda. On 3 December 1979, they ambushed and
machine-gunned a bus carrying U.S. Navy personnel, killing 2 sailors and seriously
wounding 10 others. On 12 March 1980, in a similar ambush of a bus the Macheteros
wounded one of the three ROTC instructors aboard. On 16 May 1982, they machine-
gunned four U.S. sailors leaving a San Juan nightclub, killing one and wounding the
others. On 6 November 1985, they shot and seriously wounded a U.S. Army recruiting
officer as he was riding his motor scooter to work.
The most dramatic Machetero action was the sabotage of the Puerto Rican National
Guard airfield at Muniz Air Base outside San Juan on 12 January 1981. Disguised in
military uniforms 11 Macheteros penetrated the security fence and planted 21 bombs in
11 jet fighters, 8 of which were destroyed and 2 of which were damaged, causing in
excess of $45 million in damages. The date selected was the birth anniversary of
Eugenio Marea de Hostes, a Puerto Rican hero in the struggle for independence from
Spain. The significance of the use of "eleven" in the number of men deployed and
number of planes targeted was to express solidarity for 11 FALN members being tried for
terrorist activities in the United States at that time. Similarly on 28 October 1986, they
planted 10 bombs at military bases and facilities across the island, 3 of which exploded
destroying 2 recruiting facilities. This action was undertaken to protest a supposed plan
to train Nicaraguan contras in Puerto Rico. The group has also used rocket-propelled
grenades in attacks on U.S. government office buildings in San Juan.
On 16 September 1983, the Macheteros conducted an operation on the U.S. mainland,
robbing the Wells Fargo armored truck terminal in Hartford, Conn., of $7.2 million. While
bank robberies in Puerto Rico had been a primary source of funds for the group, the
evidence provided by this holdup allowed the FBI to arrest several Macheteros leaders
in Puerto Rico on 30 August 1985. In spite of this crackdown, the Macheteros were
responsible for 9 of the 10 terrorist attacks occurring in Puerto Rico in 1986, although 7
of these attacks failed to achieve their objective.
The "Machete Wielders," otherwise known as the Ejercito Popular de Boricua, is a
Puerto Rican separatist group that considers itself engaged in a war of independence
against the United States. It is not known to have any external state sponsorship nor any
known contact with other Latin American leftist insurgent groups outside Puerto Rico,
although they are supported by the small Marxist-Leninist Puerto Rican Socialist Party
led by Jose Mari Bras, who is believed to be close to Fidel Castro. Within the Puerto
Rican community, however, the Macheteros have shown some coordination with another
separatist group, the Organization of Volunteers for the Puerto Rican Revolution, and
have claimed to carry out certain terrorist actions to express solidarity with members of
the Armed Forces of National Liberation group imprisoned in the United States. Although
the Macheteros use Marxist-Leninist jargon, the essence of their program appears to
reduce to nothing more than the demand for total independence for Puerto Rico.
The Macheteros appear to be a relatively small but highly organized and carefully
screened group that has eluded infiltration. It operates mainly within Puerto Rico,
targeting primarily U.S. military facilities, U.S. military personnel, as well as the Puerto
Rican police and operates mainly within Puerto Rico. The Macheteros appear to be
fiercely dedicated to total Puerto Rican independence. Nothing short of that is likely to
cause them to cease terrorist operations. The stated position of the group is that they
have declared war on the United States.
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