[News] Rep Gutierrez remarks to US Congress - the situation in Puerto Rico

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 2 14:47:54 EST 2011


Subject: Revised: Text of LVG's speech

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez
Address to House of Representatives
March 2, 2011

Two weeks ago I spoke about a serious problem in Puerto Rico.

The problem is a systemic effort by the ruling 
party to deny the right of the people to speak 
freely, to criticize their government openly, and 
to make their voices heard.

I talked about student protests that had been met 
with violent resistance by Puerto Rican 
police.  I talked about closed meetings of the 
legislature, and about efforts to silence the local Bar Association.

I was not the first to speak about it. And I could have said much more.

The report, "Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico: 
First Amendment Under Siege" is searing.

It details the complaints of students, 
legislators, the press, and the general public 
who were beaten and pepper sprayed by police.

Female students who were treated with gross disrespect by the police.

The government's overreaction to demonstrations 
at the University and at the Capitol over the budget cuts and layoffs.


This is the Capitol building.


This is how the police dealt with protesters.


The images of police tactics and behavior explain 
why the Department of Justice is investigating 
the Puerto Rican police for “excessive force" and "unconstitutional searches.”

How could you see these images and not speak out?

And I was hardly the first to speak out about 
these matters and will not be the last.


As a member of Congress, it is more than my right 
-  it is my obligation -  to speak out when 
fundamental freedoms are attacked.

And what was the response to my speech defending 
the right of the Puerto Rican people to be heard?

It was to challenge my right to be heard.

The resident commissioner of Puerto Rico said 
that only he is authorized to speak about Puerto Rico in this body.

This week the Puerto Rico legislature debated a 
resolution of censure -  yes, censure -- 
condemning me for speaking out against these abuses.

A leading member of the ruling party even said, 
'Gutierrez was not born in Puerto Rico.  His kids 
weren’t born in Puerto Rico.  Gutierrez doesn't 
plan on being buried in Puerto Rico
So Gutierrez 
doesn't have the right to speak about Puerto Rico.'

Let me tell you something.

If you see injustice anywhere, it is not only 
your right but your duty to speak out about it.

We don't speak out against injustice, or 
Apartheid, or human rights abuses, or the denial 
of rights to women in places around the world 
because we ourselves were born there.

That's silly.

Where we see injustice we speak out because it is the right thing to do.

Ironically, by questioning my right to speak out 
on behalf of free speech, they have made my point 
crystal clear.  By challenging my free speech, 
they have amplified the words of my five minute 
speech more than if I had spoken for five hours.

And it is their right.  My critics have the right 
of free-speech even as they deny that same right to others.

And I want them to understand this:

Your efforts to silence me,  just like your 
efforts to silence so many people in Puerto Rico 
who disagree with you -- will fail, just as every 
effort to blockade progress only makes the march 
toward justice more powerful and swift.

I may not be Puerto Rican enough some people, but 
I know this: nowhere on earth will you find a 
people harder to silence than Puerto Ricans.

You won’t locate my love for Puerto Rico on my 
birth certificate or a driver’s license, my 
children's birth certificate or any other piece of paper.

My love for Puerto Rico is right here -- in my 
heart -- a heart that beats with our history and our language and our heroes.

A place where -- when I moved there as a teenager 
-- people talked and argued and debated because 
we care deeply about our island and our future.

That’s still true today - and that freedom is 
still beating in the hearts of university 
students, working men and women, labor leaders, 
lawyers, and environmentalists and every person who believes in free speech.

You will not silence them, and you will not silence me.

Abraham Lincoln, a leader who valued freedom above all else, said:

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

It’s good advice, and I hope Puerto Rican leaders take it.


I request unanimous consent that the ACLU of 
Puerto Rico report, "Human Rights Crisis in 
Puerto Rico: First Amendment Under Siege" be entered into the record.

I further request unanimous consent that a 
statement by the President of the Service 
Employees International Union be entered into the 
record and that the essay, "Exposing the Shadows 
of Civil Rights in Puerto Rico" by the National 
Puerto Rican Coalition, also be entered into the record.


Douglas G. Rivlin
Press Secretary
Office of Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-04)
U.S. House of Representatives
2266 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-1304

<mailto:douglas.rivlin at mail.house.gov>douglas.rivlin at mail.house.gov 
// http://twitter.com/douglasrivlin
phone: (202) 225-8203 // fax: (202) 225-7810
Gutierrez on 
and <http://www.youtube.com/RepLuisGutierrez>YouTube.

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