[News] Puerto Rico at The United Nations June 13, 2006

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 14 08:38:32 EDT 2006

Puerto Rico at The United Nations
June 13, 2006
Juan Antonio Ocasio Rivera
<mailto:joboriken at aol.com>joboriken at aol.com

At the United Nations yesterday morning, one 
thing was immediately clear: as the member 
nations of the Decolonization Committee noted, 
there is tremendous and lasting interest in the 
case of Puerto Rico and its political 
status.  The Committee noted that, this year, the 
number of presenters and speakers during the 
hearing on Puerto Rico doubled from that of last 
year's hearing, which to them is indicative of 
the relevance and interest in Puerto Rico's 
colonial situation.  Indeed, the crowds gathered 
in front of the United Nations main entrance were 
witness not only to the strong breezes of an 
oddly cool morning but to an assembly of Puerto 
Rico's most well known and most committed 
political leadership: Ruben Berrios Martinez, 
Juan Mari Bras, Fernando Martin, Ismael 
Guadalupe, Hector Pesquera, and other similarly 
committed regional leaders such as Miguel Sanchez 
and Vanessa Ramos.  Important organizations such 
as Movimiento Independentista Nacional 
Hostosiano, Partido Independentista 
Puertorriqueño, Partido Nacionalista de Puerto 
Rico, and La Coordinadora Nacional Rompiendo El 
Perimetro made their presence felt as well.

The Committee, formally titled The Special 
Committee On The Granting Of Independence To 
Colonial Countries And Peoples, was formed to 
oversee and facilitate the process of 
decolonization of the world's remaining 
colonies.  Named after UN Resolution 1514 
(Resolution On the Granting Of Independence To 
Colonial Countries And Peoples), it has reviewed 
the case of Puerto Rico since the early 1970s, 
passing resolutions consistently at the 
conclusion of its hearings calling for Puerto 
Rico's self-determination and independence.  Its 
member nations include Venezuela, Mali, Iraq, 
Cuba, Congo, Argentina, Iran, Saint Lucia, Papau 
New Guinea, India, Chile, and others.

There were several significant aspects of this 
year's presentations.  First, for the first time, 
representatives of international organizations 
took to the podium to support the call for Puerto 
Rico's independence.  Gustavo Carvajal, of the 
Conference of Political Parties of Latin America, 
clearly called for an end to the colonial status 
of Puerto Rico and openly supported its 
independence, insisting that Puerto Rico was a 
Latin American nation and as such must join that 
community of nations.  He also demanded that the 
General Assembly once again review the case of 
Puerto Rico, something not done since 1953.  Raul 
Alfonsin, a former President of Argentina, 
representing the Committee of Latin America of 
the Socialist International, an organization 
representing over 100 government across the 
world, was another distinguished 
presenter.  Following the theme of Latin American 
unity, Alfonsin also insisted that Puerto Rico is 
an integral part of Latin America.  He stated 
that colonialism is a practice that runs contrary 
to the notions of democracy and stated that the 
independence of Puerto Rico has been on the 
agenda of Latin America since the 19th 
Century.  He reiterated that the island has an 
inalienable right to freedom and independence, 
demanded that the island join the international 
community as equals, and poetically emphasized 
that the entire territory of Latin America must 
be free in order to meet the mandate of its founders.

Presenters denounced the environmental 
degradation occurring in Puerto Rico, with 
respect to water resources, nuclear weapons, and 
experimentation in land, air, and 
sea.  Presenters from the island of Vieques 
denounced the current process of gentrification 
that is occurring on the island, forcing many 
Vieques residents to move to St. Thomas and other 
neighboring islands as the price of land is being 
driven up by realtors and land-grabbers.  They 
also denounced the navy's practice of detonating 
remaining bombs on the island as a method of 
cleaning target areas, saying this will continue 
to damage the health of the already afflicted residents.

Juan Mari Bras, a significant and highly 
respected leader in the independence movement, 
gave an impassioned presentation demanding action 
by the Decolonization Committee.  He proposed 
several amendments to the Resolution, including 
demanding that language be included which conveys 
the urgency of the need to address Puerto Rico's 
colonial situation and language which clearly 
condemns the assassination of revered 
revolutionary leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios.  Mari 
Bras demanded action from the Committee after the 
dozens of resolutions the Committee has passed 
regarding Puerto Rico and called on the General 
Assembly to once again review the case of the 
archipelago.  His testimony and furious delivery 
brought the public to its feet and drew a standing ovation from them as well.

Presenters from the Nationalist Party demanded an 
end to the current wave of political persecution, 
a theme repeated by Miguel Sanchez from the 
Coordinadora Rompiendo El Perimetro (Coordinating 
[Committee] Breaking the Perimeter], a group 
formed after the assassination of Ojeda Rios and 
which figuratively and literally works to break 
FBI perimeters such as the one that prevented 
help from reaching the wounded and dying Ojeda 
Rios last September.  Sanchez gave a highly 
detailed and shocking account of the current 
experiences of Puerto Rican activists being 
persecuted for their political work.  Accounts of 
small planes and helicopters flying and hovering 
over peoples' homes,  unmarked sedans following 
people around, FBI visits to the homes of 
neighbors and friends, obvious interception of 
phone calls and cell phone reception, all actions 
designed to intimidate activists who are merely 
working people, professionals, who simply are 
working to organize fellow citizens around the 
issues of importance.  He proclaimed that these 
activists are not terrorists and demanded that 
the General Assembly become involved to address 
these serious violations in the colony.

The Pro-Libertad organization called for the 
release and freedom of the Puerto Rican political 
prisoners as part of any decolonization process 
and recounted a brief history of the prisoners, 
their incarceration and conditions of 
imprisonment.  It denounced, along with other 
presenters, the current incarceration of Antonio 
Camacho Negron.  Recent reports indicate that 
Camacho is being now held in solitary 
confinement, having unknown drugs administered to 
him, in an effort to silence and discredit 
him.  Camacho had been very active in Puerto Rico 
denouncing the murder of Ojeda Rios and 
organizing a new national Decolonization 
Conference and organization.  He had previously 
served 15 years as a political prisoner and was 
re-arrested this year by the FBI, who claimed he 
still had time left on his sentence - a claim 
rejected by his lawyers and movement leaders.

Many other organizations testified and were 
brilliant, but the emotional high point of the 
day was when Edgardo Ojeda, son of Filiberto 
Ojeda Rios, testified in front of the Special 
Committee.  His voice breaking with emotion, 
Ojeda siad that he was there to demand justice 
for his father.  He described what the family 
knows about the murder and later recounted how 
his father, while surrounded by hordes of FBI 
agents, demanded to meet with a reporter.  Having 
this demand rejected, Ojeda Rios continued to 
resist the effort to assassinate him until the 
one bullet pierced his clavicle.  He was left to 
bleed to death by the FBI agents present, who 
waited until the following day to enter the 
house.  Edgardo Ojeda proudly recounted how his 
father consistently and brazenly defied the 
agents who were obviously there to murder him, 
continuously yelling patriotic slogans from 
inside the house such as, "Asesinos Fuera de mi 
Patria", "Yanqui fuera de mi patria", "Que Viva 
Puerto Rico Libre", etc.  Once his wife was 
removed from the scene, no one knows exactly what 
took place in the final moments.  Egardo Ojeda's 
forceful demand for justice and emotional 
delivery shook the public section of the 
audience, many of whom also in tears, stood and 
gave his testimony a prolonged standing ovation.

The resolution (A-AC-109-2006-L7), sponsored by 
both Cuba and Venezuela, was passed by consensus 
by the Decolonization Committee, without a vote 
and without objection.  It was yet another 
victory for the subjugated nation of Puerto Rico, 
a proud people with a rich history, which has 
seen some of the most brutal elements of 
colonialism.  This was evident yesterday when 
statehood supporters (one of which carried an 
American flag with her everywhere she went) 
pathetically made their own presentations calling 
for the UN to make Puerto Rico the 51st State of 
the U.S. (something completely out of its 
jurisdiction).  This unfortunate affliction is a 
direct result of centuries of having our island 
and our people controlled, governed, abused, and 
manipulated by another country.  That is 
colonialism.  However, the beauty of such a 
hearing at the United Nations was that although 
most understood that this will not bring freedom 
and independence tomorrow, surely history will 
record and reflect that there are Puerto Ricans 
who have overcome the noxious and demoralizing 
effects of collective enslavement and correctly 
and justly continue to demand that God-given 
right which is the right of all souls born unto 
this Earth - freedom and the right to forge their own destinies.

Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

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