Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert Perrucci

Committee Member 1

Jerry Van Hoy

Committee Member 2

JoAnn Miller

Committee Member 3

Philo Washurn


Inspired on the works of scholars and activists that had denounced state repression of political activists in the United States, this research explores the theoretical proposal about the criminalization of political dissidence. The proposal of the criminalization of political dissidence is analyzed through the study of the case of Puerto Rican pro-independence organization Fuerzas Armadas de Liberaci6n Nacional, F.A.L.N. The subjects of this research were charged with seditious conspiracy and other charges. They claimed the status of prisoners of war and deny the jurisdiction of US courts over them. Affirming their right to fight for the independence of Puerto Rico, these individuals were treated by the state and the media as criminals and terrorists, as a menace to society at large. The clash of visions and discourses inspires this research. Moreover, the contribution and role of the media to the criminalization process is explored. The methodology used is Altheide's ethnographic content analysis. By this documents are analyzed in a qualitative, deep manner, taking into consideration the whole spectrum of social and historical factors that defines the conjuncture. Court decisions, trial transcripts, and other legal documents are studied in order to understand the legal treatment of the case. Furthermore, the coverage by the New York Time and the Chicago Tribune of the violent incidents and the arrests is also studied to explore media's treatment to the same issue. This research revealed that the FALN members were the subjects oaf process of criminalization. Their case further demonstrates that the criminalization of political dissidence comprises three main elements. First, the characterization or stigmatization of political dissident groups as criminals and terrorist-the law and the media present images of the political groups and its members as criminal and terrorists. Second, the law and the media in its treatment to the dissident groups de-politicize their activities by negating importance or criticizing their political motivations or goals. The third element is the use of fear to justify social control, in other words the law and the media present images of possible danger to the public in order to justify mechanisms of social control. Reproduced

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