This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Cerro Maravilla Massacre in Puerto Rico, in which two pro-independence activists – 18-year-old Carlos Soto Arriví and 24-year-old Arnaldo Darío Rosario – were assassinated by police officers, resulting in a massive government cover-up and ultimately, the indictments of multiple officers involved.
Today, former Calle 13 member iLe debuts a tribute to the young men – remembered as martyrs by many Puerto Ricans – who lost their lives on the central mountain range hilltop that day. The video for “Odio” was directed by Cesar Berrios, and it’s the Boricua artist’s first single after last year’s Grammy Award-winning album iLevitable. It’s largely a re-enactment of the July 25, 1978 events, from frightening start to tragic end.
Soto Arriví and Darío Rosario were members of the Armed Revolutionary Movement. Along with an undercover officer posing as a fellow activist, the pair took a taxi driver hostage, ordering him to drive to the communication towers atop Cerro Maravilla, which they allegedly planned to set ablaze in protest of the imprisonment of Puerto Rican nationalists convicted of the 1950 assassination attempt on then-President Truman and a 1954 shooting at the U.S. Capitol.
Multiple local police, already waiting, ambushed the activists upon their arrival. Witness statements later revealed they had surrendered, and were disarmed and pleading for their lives when they were beaten, then shot and killed, by officials. Addressing the public on TV immediately following the events, then Governor Carlos Antonio Romero Barceló – of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party – declared those officials heroes.
The event was widely publicized at the time, as well as throughout subsequent investigations by both local government and the FBI. Ultimately, 10 officers were found guilty of perjury, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice, and two were convicted of second-degree murder.
In early investigations, however, Puerto Rican and U.S. justice departments upheld that the officer engaged in no wrongdoing, having acted in self-defense. When investigations reopened in the early 80s ended in convictions for those officers, many believed their suspicions — that both governments co-conspired to cover up a planned-out assassination of the two activists — to be true.
The song’s lyrics are a call for solidarity and the end of hatred. In a statement released with the video, iLe says, “During this era in which the suffocating colonial situation that Puerto Rico has always lived under is more tense than ever, almost all that’s left for us to do is to remember, by way of a story, so we can maintain our memory as a nation. The video shows just one example of what continues to occur, not only on this island but all around the world in different political and day-to-day contexts. This song is my emotional reaction. We are still manipulated by the hate that we feed. If we want to live in a world guided by love, we have to make the effort to look within, and be willing to find ourselves in our fellow human beings.”
Though the Cerro Maravilla Massacre has largely been scrubbed from U.S. history, Puerto Ricans have not forgotten, and the resistance movement of today continues the fight for decolonization and independence — despite pushback from police, like the violent end to the May 1 protests earlier this year.
Watch the video below: