by Margo Pelletier & Lisa Thomas
Thin Edge Films
2009, 99 min., DVD
Silvia Baraldini moved to the U.S. in the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and came of age in a country burning in its own promise. Moved by African American's fight for human rights and incensed by the show of pretense in American democracy, Silvia began a life of political activism.
In the 1970s, when hundreds of politically minded people folded back into the comforts of American society, Silvia deepened her conviction to revolutionary struggle. She became the national leader of the May 19th Communist Organization, a radical group of white North Americans. May 19th was a key element in a fragile but growing alliance of revolutionaries, African American, Puerto Rican and white who worked relentlessly to organize people to view the U.S. Imperialist system as the leading source of world oppression. Most threatening to the government was their support for the Republic of New Afrika, a group of African Americans fighting to win land in the south on which to build a socialist nation under Black rule. Members of the alliance were targets of the U.S. government's counter insurgency program, COINTELPRO. Using an array of tactics, the government put an end to the alliance; many activists were arrested and imprisoned; Silvia was one of them. In 1983, under the RICO law, Silvia was given a 40-year prison sentence for helping to free former Black Panther, Assata Shakur from prison. She was additionally charged with criminal contempt of court for refusing to answer questions to a Grand Jury investigating the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and given another three years. Freeing Silvia Baraldini presents Silvia's side of the story, the side that was not supposed to be told.