Author’s Note: I got back from Puerto Rico over a week ago but between shooting at large rats with bottle rockets and riding my motorcycle back out to New Mexico, which, incidentally, died after an Arduous 700 miles-in-one-day-run caused the poor thing to shit a Connecting Rod right through the goddamned Engine Block ten miles over the Oklahoma border, ejecting me over the handlebars and onto a Greyhound bus. I really didn’t have the time to do the thing Justice until now. Lo Siento, Pepe. If you want faster service, pony up a little more cash. At least help me forge a Foodstamp Card, you hookers.

LA PARGUERA, PUERTO RICO As our plane touched down, I confess to a shiver of doubt and worry. I still had terrible diarrhea and it was 3:00 a.m. in a place that was all but a foreign country, and La Chupa Cabra and I had to find someplace to sleep. We walked out of the airport and into the warm tropical air, the smell of fruit and surf everywhere around us. I fished my dagger out of my backpack and put it back on my belt, hoping the long blade would seize the locals’ respect if the large silver-and-gold Virgin of Guadeloupe holding up my pants failed to garner it. (I later found we were far more likely to be cuddled to death by the friendly locals than bludgeoned to it; Puerto Ricans are the most welcoming natives of any place I have ever been, bar none.)

We found a hotel that gave us our room half-off, as we were checking in so late. The concierge held a degree in both tourism and political sciences; when I told him I was looking for the liberation front, he directed us to Lares.

Lares is a town fifty miles or so in the interior of the island, and fifty miles or so from Aguadilla, the town in which we arrived. We decided to play it cool and fuck off for a few days before getting down to anything serious and potentially dangerous; a Puerto Rican I had met in Columbus warned me that a false step with Los Macheteros, the name of the revolutionary group once headed by Filiberto Ojeda Rios, would result in the slitting of my throat and subsequent rolling of my body into a ditch. Ojeda Rios, who was shot to death in September of 2005, was the mastermind of Operation White Eagle, the 1983 Wells-Fargo bank robbery which netted the Macheteros over $7 million, one of the largest losses in American history. To add insult to injury, $2-3 million was funneled to the Communist government of Cuba. In addition to the heist, Los Macheteros took credit for many bombings and other attacks on U.S. and Puerto Rican property, including a 1981 bomb attack on an airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico that destroyed nine fighter jets, two ‘LAW’ rocket attacks on government buildings in Puerto Rico, and the killing of several police officers and U.S. Navy sailors. The U.S. had Ojeda Rios on their Most Wanted list for over fifteen years, and considered Los Macheteros a dangerous terrorist group.

And so to find the remnants: La Chupa Cabra and I booked our tickets months ago as a way to spend my tax refund. As a man who has never earned a vacation from anything in his life, I naturally decided to justify this trip as another exploration of revolutionary activity, hoping to earn a position on the masthead of the Free Press. My editor was hatefully specific during the negotiation phase of the assignment:

"If you come back with something, we might get you money for the campaign trail next year. Otherwise…"

I balked at his veiled threat. "What about a monkey? I’ll try to get the office a monkey. You teach him how to file things or whatever. Customs could be problematic, but if I can capture one, I could shave it and claim it was my child."

"You drink too much to adopt a monkey, even for a short time. You’d be an irresponsible parent anyway. Find the Liberation Front or else."

I have long suspected that my editor only approves these stories in an attempt to get me killed or imprisoned; publicity for his damned paper and me out of the way. I can’t blame him, honestly. I am a hack writer and a first class liability; I drink heavily at monthly office meetings and smoke drugs on the roof. A hack writer and legitimate liability, I would have offed my silly ass long ago. The bastard once tried to run me over in a supermarket parking lot under the guise of securing ‘expense money’ from an ATM…suddenly I was in Puerto Rico, looking for terrorists. I was extremely grateful for the companionship of my Logistics Team from the Hurricane Katrina days, the unpredictable La Chupa Cabra. I assumed she would be the ultimate instrument of my survival, provided I could either utilize her razor-sharp ‘wit’ or simply purvey her as a bargaining chip should I be captured. Surely these savages would prefer to eat the flesh of a beautiful girl rather than gnaw the wiry gristle of one David S. Lewis.

We spent the first few days fucking off in grand fashion, camping on the beach and making friends with a local couple who allowed us the use of their lovely condo and accompanying shower. Stunned by our haphazard approach to the adventure, the couple helped us rent a car and provided an affirmation of the hotel concierge’s assertion that the Macheteros were to be found in Lares.

Lares is the traditional center of revolution in Puerto Rico; the Grito de Lares (Cry of Lares) was issued there, beginning the short-lived (quickly put-down) revolt against the Spanish on September 23 of 1868. (That date, long celebrated by the various independence movements in Puerto Rico, was the same day the FBI attempted to arrest Ojeda Rios at his home in Hornigueros, not far from Lares, fatally shooting him in the lung when he resisted.) Our source at the condo also recommended that we try to find Lares’ other claim to fame while there, the legendary Lechon Asado con Viandas.

We drove there directly after renting the car, as soon as La Chupa Cabra had finished stripping off the little automobile’s exhaust on a series of high curbs. I thanked my lucky stars that my Logistics Team was skilled in the art of Romping; surely the tiny Mitsubishi Aerio with the remarkably shitty pick-up and non-existent brakes could get away from angry men with machetes.

Lares is a beautiful little inland town, nestled in the jungle, a quiet village. We stopped for cigarettes at a store that advertised pollo se vende (chickens for sale) with a large sign on the window. I found this curious as chickens ran wild everywhere, un-owned but permitted as they eat mosquitoes and keep the lawns trimmed. Twice it was necessary to reprimand my Logistics Team for chasing on the poor creatures.

La Chupa Cabra and I sat in the trunk of the Aerio and tried to cipher down the best approach to finding the rebels in such a way that would not threaten them. It is one thing to accidentally walk into the rebel’s civil office looking for a bar, as I had in Mexico last summer. It seemed another altogether to march into their stronghold, blundering around and asking for directions to the lair. "Hey you guys, you know where I can find the rebels? Hey you there, hey, are you by chance a machete fighter? Hey, where’s the Lair? Donde estas the Lair, anyone?"

Pondering our delicate situation, we realized that we were right next to the recommended pork dealer, specializing in Lechon Asado con Viandas. Excellente. We strolled over to the dirty little shack where a large Puerto Rican was chopping up the roasted pork with (of course) a giant fucking machete. I took charge of the situation, using my superior command of the Spanish language.

"Nosotros quieremos lechon asado con viandas, por favor," I blurted to the large, dangerous looking man in my nearly indecipherable dialect. The big bastard eyed me queerly, as that dish is not only their specialty, it’s the only thing on the menu. In fact, there was no menu. In fact, I later wondered whether or not I might have been in someone’s house.

"You want the pork, right?" he asked in near perfect English.

"Er, yes, please, I mean, si. Yes. Please." He rolled his eyes and piled a Styrofoam plate high with the roasted pork and un-ripened bananas, boiled like potatoes, along with several other starchy and potato-like vegetables. "Buen provecha."

The pork was tender and delicious, and roasted with the skin on so the pig’s bristles, shaved off before cooking, were again able to protrude through the crunchy flesh. La Chupa Cabra eyed the skin warily, unsure of the obvious fur. "Do you think you are supposed to eat that part?"

"Everyone else is," I said, picking bristles from between my teeth. "Holy smokes, this is fucking amazing," I said, spitting out bristles. "This is the best pork I’ve ever had," I said, trying to remove pig bristles from my eye.

As we ate, I formulated a plan of attack. There were between ten and fifteen wiry old men sitting around the shack on patio furniture, playing dominoes in their dirty A-shirts and looking very dangerous and revolutionary. I readied myself mentally with as many relevant phrases in Spanish as I could come up with. I scribbled them down in a small notebook, in case I forgot the exact wording at the crucial moment:

I am an American journalist.
You look very dangerous.
Are you a revolutionary?
Where are the revolutionaries?
Help me, please.
Watch out! I have a large knife.
Let’s fight.
Don’t hurt me.
Don’t kill me, I am harmless.
George W. Bush is a devil.
She is my sister, and a virgin.
She is a policeman. Kill her, not me.
I have a disease of the blood.

Thus armed, I strode confidently to the table of the most dangerous looking old man. They all looked pretty tough, but I was sure that this one would kill me quickly, without drawing it out too long. I spoke in Spanish so broken, I knew there was no way he could mistake me for an FBI agent; they would at least have sent a Mexican.

"I am an American journalist. I write for the Free Press. I want to do a story on the Macheteros. I hear they are around here. Can you help me find one?"

Although I spoke in a low voice, everyone sitting outside looked up. Two of them came over and stood next to the old man, who suddenly looked even more dangerous. He spoke to two other dangerous looking men in rapid, violent sounding Spanish; unable to make out much, I did hear the words journalist, macheteros, and what could easily have been let’s kill the pig. Sensing imminent danger, I quickly drew up a Plan B, just as a translator arrived on scene. I explained to him who I was and what I wanted, and proposed that I would write a letter to the Macheteros including my phone number and press affiliation. I would leave the letter on an adjacent table, and if anyone wished to do the interview they could call me. I knew no one’s name, and didn’t want to…I would leave quickly and without looking at who, if anyone, picked up the letter. The translator conveyed this (I hoped) to the dangerous-looking old men, and I went back to the car to compose the letter and inform my Logistics Team of the plan.

"Now, remember: we have to leave very quickly. Have the car running and, as soon as I get in, pull away slowly and calmly." She rolled her eyes in her usual taciturn signal of acquiescence.

The only envelope in the car was a bright pink one for a child’s birthday card. I thrust the letter and my press pass into the girly little envelope and strode quickly and purposefully back to the patio, where the old men stiffened perceptibly, presenting me with an array of evil stink-eyes, with a collective ferocity the likes of which I have never before seen. I reached into my jacket, eliciting a flurry of squeaking patio chairs, withdrew the envelope, posited it on a table. I smiled, wished them a Buen Provecha, turned my back and walked away…quickly, in a serpentine path across the (now) enormous parking lot. Opening the door of the car, I saw that my Logistics Team was reading a book.

"The car isn’t started," I noted. She looked at me, uncomprehending.

"Start the Fucking Car, Goddammit! Now! Drive! Away! Andele, for Fuck’s Sake!" I noted in a loud and shouting voice. The old men on the patio looked up in alarm at my screams.

My evil Logistics Team fumbled in her purse for the keys. I helpfully threw a coconut at her head; she started the car and peeled out, heading at speed directly toward the old men, whose wide, panicky eyes met mine as I braced myself, both hands on the dash. My Logistics Team, now on probation, executed a beautiful sliding turn, romped the sidewalk and headed into the street, causing the oncoming traffic to dent floorboard with their brake pedals. Realizing she was headed in the wrong direction, my former Logistics Team executed another slide, this time a 180-degree U-turn, burning back by the old men, now shouting and shaking their fists at us and coughing violently in the cloud of rubber smoke as I slid as far down in my seat as I could go.

Needless to say, no one ever called me. But the pork was fantastic, it really was.

Having thoroughly botched my only obvious avenue to the rebel forces, I knew something had to be done, and fast. Thankfully, the locally-brewed beer Medalla is actually cheaper than bottled water. While waiting for the fuckers to call, I contacted the San Juan Star, the English-language daily paper in Puerto Rico. A copy editor (we’ll call him Jason) offered this explanation for the shy behavior of the rebels:

"They lost their main guy to the FBI in 2005; none of them are going to be in much of a hurry to talk to anyone. They have gone underground, WAY underground…there has been very little activity, very little communication, since Ojeda Rios was killed. Homeland Security, the Patriot Act…no one wants to spend ten years in Guantanamo for advertising their opposition to the U.S. government."

In La Parguera, a peaceful coastal town in the Southwestern corner of the island, we found someone else willing to talk about Rios and Los Macheteros.

"They are criminals. Rios was a criminal. He shot an FBI policeman, si? You know that, yes? They killed people. They wanted to be revolutionaries, but they were really just terrorists, criminales. They placed bombs in supermarkets, blew up airplanes," said Carlos Ruiz, sitting on his deck, surrounded by damn near a hundred broken televisions. A former T.V. repairman, Carlos was now retired, living on the dole, checks provided to Puerto Ricans by the U.S. government and Taxpayers Like You.

"If you want change, you do it by voting. Puerto Rico is a democracy. If you want something changed, you vote on it. If you ask me, it’s too democratic here."

I asked whether the citizens had voted on the recently instituted smoking ban, which had prohibited smoking in any public place on the island.

"Well, no, we didn’t vote on that."

What about the income tax? No one had ever paid income taxes until last year. Did the citizens vote on that?

"We didn’t vote on that either. We vote in our representatives, and they vote on such issues for us."

I asked him whether he thought the population would have voted for the tax.

"Of course not. No one wants more taxes! All the papers will tell you that we are at 11% unemployment…well, I will tell you the truth, it is more like 25%! But everyone is doing okay. There is much aid from the United States. I know many, many people who have not worked a day in the last fifteen years, yet they have the Dish Network, y big-screen TVs...Sonys! The others are all crap. Sony is the only television I would own. These, all these, these are Sonys," he said, gesturing toward his tube-strewn yard. "If we were independent, all that would disappear, all the money, the cable TV, food stamps, WIC…all of it, gone. No one wants this."

God forbid the fuckers farm anything. It’s just a Tropical Island, for Christ’s sake…you don’t even have to farm it, the shit just Grows. Lazy bastardos.

Many Puerto Ricans consider Ojeda Rios a hero, akin to Che or even George Washington. Others consider him and his followers common criminals, or worse, terrorists. I never met the fucker, but I did read the Office of the Inspector General’s report on the shooting that left the man dead. There’s some discrepancy regarding the incident; many charge that the FBI fired first. Others object to the operation’s U.S. origin, claiming the FBI left the local government out of the loop and thereby violated jurisdictional boundaries. Many believe the date of the assault was chosen maliciously and speculate that the agents passed on earlier opportunities to make the arrest that would have been less likely to result in a gunfight. Although unconfirmed, the OIG document does not deny allegations that Rios offered to surrender to the journalist Jesus Davila, but the FBI refused to comply with this request. As Rios was shot through the lung, a serious wound but not necessarily fatal, many question why the FBI would delay entry into the residence for eighteen hours after the man was shot, allowing Rios to bleed to death. Although the OIG document ascertains that Rios was the first to open fire, many deny this and consider the shooting a political assassination. The entire incident remains a hazy and unclear affair to this day, although it received very little media coverage in the U.S., despite the seriousness of the crimes Rios perpetrated against it. One would expect the government to fly his head from the yardarm, but if any of you remember even hearing about it, let me know. I pay attention to this sort of shit, and I have no memory of it whatsoever.

Che Guevara, the professional revolutionary of Cuban fame, allegedly uttered the famous last words, "Shoot. You kill nothing but a man." Individuals exist who perceive their governments to be so oppressive that they are willing to die fighting them. Apparently, Rios was one of those men. I am not. There are too goddamn many hippies in this country. Were the U.S. liberated from its evil and oppressive government, I am afraid it would turn into a pot farm, and a place where people would keep too many cats. Education would suddenly be free and your delicate minds would pop like squeezed weasels. A liberated America would, for a time, experience the ravages of true democracy, where you would vote on whether everyone really wanted to call it "Tuesday" or whether it was ethical to boil lobsters without first asking permission. Instead of freeing patriots like Scooter Libby, you fools would sentence Ted Nugent to Life in a Gummi Bear factory. You will free the lab monkeys and they will kill you in your sleep, mating with your daughters and securing free education for the bastard offspring.

None for me, sir. I have found a pleasant gentleman in La Parguera who will sell me his sailboat for a mere $2000. I’m out. I shall cruise the Caribbean, eating those wild chickens and other people’s fruit. With any luck at all I will find another hurricane, and this one will finally end me. As for America, you folks can have the place, and good luck to you. If you fix the place up some and get rid of the shitheads, I might, MIGHT, come back to visit.