The Barrio’s Agent Provocateur: Political Trauma and the Afterlife of Political Repression, Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, Northwestern University
Between the 1970s and the 2000s, the FBI and the Chicago Police aggressively pursued members of the armed anticolonial Puerto Rican independence organization, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation). Like campaigns against other left militant groups during this period, such as the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground, intelligence and law enforcement agencies used various tactics to neutralize the FALN and its supporters. Within this long and complex history, I focus on one tactic. In the late 1980s, the FBI planted an agent provocateur in the barrio of Humboldt Park/West Town to ensnare and entrap Puerto Rican radicals. Drawing on archival research and oral history interviews, this paper examines the public and intimate experiences and memories of the agent provocateur and his actions. This episode provides an opportunity to both think and theorize the concept of political trauma and to deepen historical understanding of the afterlives of political repression against diaspora-based Puerto Rican movements.
Respondents: Margaret Power, IIT, and José López, Puerto Rican Cultural Center