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Political Prisoners and the Politics of the United Nations

May 10, 2008

OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA

The United Nations Special Decolonization Committee held hearings dealing with Puerto Rico’s colonial status case on 9 June 2008. Over forty petitioners appeared before the Committee providing it with valuable and up to the date information about. Puerto Rico’s colonial plight, its dehumanizing and devastating effects and with possible solution to eradicate it. The petitioners represented different political parties in Puerto Rico, governments of Latin America and Caribbean nations, nongovernmental organizations, labor unions and civic organizations. Even the governor of Puerto Rico Anibal Acevedo Vila, made an unexpected appearance (no sitting governor had ever taken such a step) informing the Committee about the lack of democracy the present status represents and about the need for the us government to clarify exactly what happened in 1953 with Resolution 748.

The Special Committee approved by consensus a favorable and comprehensive resolution which includes the following points: 1) recognition of Puerto Rico’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and of it’s identity as a Latin American and Caribbean nation; 2) asking the United Nation’s General Assembly to thoroughly examine, in all its aspects, Puerto Rico’s case; 3) calling on the us government to assume the proper process and mechanism to allow Puerto Rico to exercise its self-determination and independence in accordance with UN Resolution 1514 (XV); and 4) asking the us government to release all Puerto Rican political prisoners.

At this juncture, the most urgent task and challenge before us is to get the UN General Assembly to hear Puerto Rico’s case as the Committee’s resolution specifies. It behooves this august body to take up this matter immediately. First, because eighteen years ago, it made a commitment to eradicate colonialism. Second, because fifty-five years ago it was coerced and hoodwinked by the us government to approve resolution 748 — a farce that has only helped to perpetuate colonialism in Puerto Rico. And third, because the us government is asking the world community to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo is a province of Serbia that was taken over by ethnic Albanians using force, terrorism and ethnic cleansing with the aid and assistance of the us government and its armed forces. It’s important to point out that hundreds of Puerto Rican soldiers have been sent to Kosovo to do the us government’s dirty work.

If the us government doesn’t have any qualms in asking the world community to recognize Kosovo’s independence then it shouldn’t have any problems recognizing Puerto Rico to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination and independence in accordance with 1514 (XV). It shouldn’t have any problems either recognizing the fact that Puerto Rico is a Latin American and Caribbean nation, and the issue of it’s colonial status must be resolved with the help of the world community.

The United Nation’s General Assembly must fulfill its responsibility, correct the mistake it made by approving resolution 748 and notify the us government that the colonial case of Puerto Rico is not a domestic issue. Puerto Rico will be independent and sovereign, and a member of the United Nations, and it will struggle for a better and more just world. Pa’lante en Resistencia y Lucha.

For more information on the aforementioned resolutions:

1. Resolution 748 (VIII): Cessation of the transmission of information under article 73 e of the Charter in respect of Puerto Rico: http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/8925765.html
2. Resolution 1514 (XV): Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples: http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/9721184.html

True to the priorities of the National Boricua Human Rights Network, including an end to the continuing political repression and criminalization of progressive sectors of the Puerto Rican community, the NBHRN has supported Tania Frontera and Christopher Torres from the moment the FBI served them with subpoenas in December 2007 to appear before a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, New York.

On June 27, NBHRN once again demonstrated its support. Along with the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico (Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico), and through their New York National Lawyers Guild attorneys Alan Levine and Jeffrey Rothman, they presented in court a Motion to Intervene in the Motion to Quash the Grand Jury Subpoenas served on Frontera and Torres. The motion asserts that the subpoenas have a chilling effect on the constitutional rights of association and expression of the both organizations, particularly given the long and sordid historical trajectory of the United States colonial domination of Puerto Rico and its unceasing efforts to criminalize and destroy the movement for the independence of Puerto Rico.

Unbeknownst to counsel, the court filed the motions under seal, and assigned the case to Judge Carol Amon. On June 27, as on previous dates when Frontera and Torres were scheduled to appear, the Hostos One Eleven Grand Jury Resistance Coalition convened a demonstration on the courthouse steps, and then entered the courtroom to watch the proceedings. The government asked the judge to clear the courtroom, arguing that grand jury matters are to be secret. Lawyers for Frontera and Torres, Susan Tipograph and Martin Stolar, of the National Lawyers Guild, recounted that in their vast experience with grand juries, the public has never been excluded from hearings on motions to quash, nor have such motions ever been filed under seal. The court ordered briefs on the secrecy issue, as well as on the motion to intervene, and ordered the government to respond adequately to the motion to quash and reveal whether the subpoenas or grand jury questions were founded in illegal electronic surveillance.

The motions will be argued on July 28. If they are denied, and if Frontera and Torres refuse to collaborate, as they have publicly stated, the ranks of Puerto Rican political prisoners will undoubtedly grow by two. This swelling of the ranks would take place one month after the adoption of the annual United Nations Decolonization Committee resolution, affirming the application of international law requiring decolonization to the case of Puerto Rico, and urging, among other things, that the president of the United States release all Puerto Rican political prisoners.

Oscar Lopez Rivera
#87651-024
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47801
U.S.P. Terre Haute

Carlos Alberto Torres and the Network are preparing his parole campaign, which as of this writing, is set for, February 2009 as well as engaged in a fundraising campaign for his pottery workshop, El Cemi. Carlos is also adjusting to his new surroundings, after being transferred to FCI Pekin, IL. For more information on the campaign, please email alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org.

Oscar Lopez Rivera has written several articles, one on the UN Decolonization Committee hearings this past July, for Jericho as well as produced several new paintings.

To view them, and for more information on Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, please visit: http: boricuahumanrights.org

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