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Puerto Rico solidarity against repression

May 10, 2009

April 3, 2009

Dating from November 19, 2008, the Table of Solidarity Against Repression warned people of the continuing tendency to federalize institutions and life in Puerto Rico. The current governor Luis Fortuño continues and emphasizes the hand-over of our institutions, especially those related to justice, to the hands of the U.S. Attorney, the FBI, and the federal court in Puerto Rico.

Events that have been happening in the past three months prove this. The federalization of the Puerto Rico Police is a fact. The nomination of FBI agent Figueroa Sancha to head the Police was necessary for the success of the comprehensive plan that the businessmen who run the government of Luis Fortuño had prepared long ago for Puerto Rico. This plan includes, among other elements, the sale of government public services to private enterprise, the elimination of dissent from institutions that orient people about their rights, and the elimination of rights acquired by workers.

Let’s look at what has been happening:

1. Immediately after his nomination, the FBI agent who heads the Police began training the Shock Force, FURA, SWAT, and others, supposedly to prepare them for possible social uprisings which the economic measures to be implemented by Fortuño would cause.

2. The difference between federal authorities and Puerto Rico authorities was erased, in a supposed effort to coordinate the Municipal Police, the Puerto Rico Police and the FBI, in which any of them could equally intervene together in any type of crime. That facilitates the FBI claiming credit for solving crimes and applying the death penalty in Puerto Rico. The latter will be possible because the governor himself has affirmed that he will not intervene to avoid the application of the death penalty for crimes committed in Puerto Rico, in spite of the fact the Constitution he swore to uphold prohibits the death penalty.

3. The coordination of the previously mentioned forces was apparent first, not at the scene of a crime, but against some unions that tried to participate in hearings on the new budget at the beginning of March of 2009. The mobilization of these combined forces at the Capitol prevented the workers from entering into “public” hearings.

4. These coordinated forces perfectly coincide with announcements from federal agencies, such as the coast Guard, indicating an intent to persecute those who oppose, in any manner, the policies of the government and those it calls subversive.
5. In the legislature, they have begun dismantling the Bar Association, with a project that eliminates obligatory membership of attorneys.

6. Two days ago, the police attacked a group of Telephone Company workers who were demonstrating in front of the Department of Labor. Weeks before, they also attacked those demonstrating against the gas pipeline.

7. A legislator submitted a resolution seeking a legislative investigation of the University of Puerto Rico student protests against the expectation of the return of military practices to the Río Piedras campus. The following day he accused the Brotherhood of Non Teaching Exempt Employees, the Pro Independence Students Federation, and Mothers Against the War of having made a threatening telephone call to him.

8. The Attorney General issued instructions to the prosecutors throughout the country for each district to assign an additional duty attorney to be in charge of attending to complaints generated by demonstrations by “citizens affected” by the dismissal of government employees. We can see how they plan to deprive citizens of freedom of expression.

9. They have created a program called Quality of Life, which is based on Police and FBI intervention in poor communities and public housing. It requires that after the operations, in each intervened community, while the repressive forces remain there, various agencies will offer support. We have already seen on other occasions how this does not work while the political, social and economic conditions of the country continue unchanged.

It is not a coincidence that this increase in persecution of “subversives,” as they identify dissidents, is taking place during times of economic crisis. The government-boss plans an unprecedented attack on the working class. The unemployment crisis will penetrate deeply into Puerto Rican society, and the government will identify the left as “agitators” in moments like these. Unions will be targets of repression with the implementation of Law #7, which eliminates the democratic rights of assembly and collective negotiation.

We had already warned that the Superintendent of Police, who is preceded by his repressive conduct as assistant director of the FBI in Puerto Rico, has said that he is going to establish a network of “intelligence” agents with which he will obtain information among others, of community groups, neighborhoods and churches. Undoubtedly, this is the true support referred to in the Quality of Life program. This so-called support to communities is an attempt to convert the residents of those communities into informants, or, as the people say, “snitches.” With this, they achieve the development of lack of trust among neighbors, which will impede communities from organizing to struggle for their well-being and social and economic advancement.
The increase in police activities in which the feds play the leading role show us the formal establishment of a police state that already existed in hidden form, in the United States as well as in Puerto Rico. The Attorney General had already warned that telephones could be intercepted, something prohibited by the Constitution of Puerto Rico, but permitted by federal jurisdiction, making clear that the feds will be in charge of the administration of justice in Puerto Rico.

Criminality is a social problem that emerges from inequality and lack of opportunities. The new government of Puerto Rico, from the beginning, threatens to deepen the inequalities with new taxes and deprivation of services that bring unemployment and corruption, as we were able to confirm during the Roselló administration. That is why the government must increase repressive measures. And that is why Fortuño named FBI agent José Figueroa Sancha to head the Puerto Rico Police.

The Table of Solidarity Against Repression calls for the rejection of these repressive policies against a people and a working class exploited and attacked by businessmen who hold the reins of the government. We reject the policies that seek to shut down organisms that defend civil rights, such as the Bar Association. We reject the policies announced by the Coast Guard and the governments of Luis Fortuño and Barack Obama against movements in struggle and the Puerto Rican left.

The Table of Solidarity Against Repression calls on people to organize to defend the right to intimacy and civil rights. We must learn to recognize these repressive acts and denounce them, without fear. We join with the people in demanding justice and freedom.

The Table of Solidarity Against Repression
April 2, 2009

Contacts:
Liliana Laboy (787) 406-1838
Norberto Cintrón Fiallo (787) 4…

Jan Susler
People’s Law Office
1180 N.
Milwaukee
Chicago, IL 60642

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