Resistance is a Right
As President Obama attempts to rebrand the war in Iraq as a “New Dawn” of U.S. occupation, with continued combat against the Iraqi resistance and U.S. deciding the Iraqi government, the people of Puerto Rico have considerable experience to bring to bear on this issue of “rebranding” and occupation. The U.S. has occupied Puerto Rico and enslaved it as a colony since 1898. It has used it as a launching pad for the U.S. military in aggression against Latin America and Iraq. The Navy for decades used the island of Vieques as a bombing range, terrorizing and harming the people living there and destroying the natural environment. The Army long maintained numerous bases and still has two functioning, with others ready for use at any time. The FBI is always present and notorious for its assassinations and numerous efforts to infiltrate and disrupt the resistance movement in Puerto Rico.
In the face of broad resistance and the mounting liberation movements that followed the defeat of the fascists in WWII, the U.S. attempted to rebrand Puerto Rico as a “commonwealth,” in 1952. It is said to be under the control of, but not part of, the United States. Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship and serve in the military but cannot vote for president and have no representation in Congress. The Puerto Rican government website says the “United States controls: interstate trade, foreign relations and commerce, customs administration, control of air, land and sea, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, military bases, army, navy and air force, declaration of war, constitutionality of laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television communications, agriculture, mining and minerals, highways, postal system; Social Security, and other areas generally controlled by the federal government in the United States.” Political and economic control backed up by military occupation remained, then and now.
More recently, Congress again considered statehood for Puerto Rico. Such a move has long been rejected by Puerto Ricans as yet one more means to block their right to self-determination and to pursue their path free from U.S. interference — much as one done to Hawai’i in 1959, when it was forced to become a state. It too serves as a military launching pad for aggression, and its people, their culture and traditions, are viciously oppressed.
Characteristic of U.S. occupation is continued terrorism against the peoples, repression of the resistance, including assassinations and jailings, genocide, including sterilization campaigns against Puerto Rican women, and more. Whatever name is used, colonization and occupation remain. The interference and dictate of the U.S. to determine the economic, political and social system of Puerto Rico remains. And like the Iraqis, the people of Puerto Rico have repeatedly made clear that Puerto Rico belongs to the Puerto Ricans and that they will continue their fight for independence and self-determination, no matter how the U.S. brands the country and attempts to repress the resistance. Voice of Revolution salutes the determined struggle of Puerto Ricans for independence and we demand:
End the U.S. Occupation of Puerto Rico! [TOP]
Voice of Revolution salutes the life, legacy and work of Lolita Lebron, a fierce fighter for Puerto Rican independence who died August 1, in San Juan, at the age of 90. We express are condolences to her family, and to all the Puerto Rican people, who have lost a courageous fighter for independence. And as many are doing across Puerto Rico and worldwide, we affirm her contributions and join in honoring her life by carrying forward the struggle to end U.S. colonization and defend the rights of the Puerto Rican people.
Lebron is most remembered for leading an armed attack on the U.S. Capitol in 1954. She and three other Puerto Ricans, exercising their right to resist colonization and targeting those responsible for it, the U.S. government, opened fire from an upstairs spectators’ gallery onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lebron unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and shouted, “Viva Puerto Rico Libre!” No one was killed in the attack. All four were unjustly imprisoned.
Lebron was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison. A vigorous fight was waged for her release and that of all Puerto Rican political prisoners, jailed for affirming their right to fight for independence and demand the end to U.S. colonization.
“I am a revolutionary,” Lebron said at the time and continued to affirm throughout her life. “I hate bombs, but we might have to use them.” Lebron said that all four nationalists expected to be killed in the attack. Police at the time found a note in her purse that said, “My life I give for the freedom of my country.” The note continued, “The United States of America is betraying the sacred principles of mankind in their continuous subjugation of my country.”
She remained unjustly imprisoned for 25 years. After their release Lebron and the others were widely celebrated and received a warm welcome from the people of Puerto Rico. Lebron became a symbol of the undaunted spirit of the Puerto Ricans fighting to end U.S. occupation and chart their own independent path.
Lebron continued to fight against the U.S. occupiers throughout her life. She joined the many protests against the U.S. military’s use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a bombing range. After broad protests across Puerto Rico and in the U.S. the Navy was finally forced to close the bombing site in 2003.
We join peoples worldwide in saying we honor the life and work of Lolita Lebron! We will continue to build revolution and stand with the people of Puerto Rico in fighting for national and social liberation. You were an inspiration to all of us, Lolita. We Love you, honor you and will live as you did.
Free the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners! [TOP]
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color. The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. With headquarters in New York, it has chapters in every state. From its founding, the National Lawyers Guild has maintained an internationalist perspective, and international work has been a critical focus for the Guild. Its International Committee has organized delegations to many countries throughout the world, and Guild members are involved in international organizations, such as the International Association for Democratic Lawyers and the American Association of Jurists. Presently, active subcommittees exist for Cuba, the Middle East, Korea, and the United Nations. Guild members, including myself, have a long history of defending activists in the Puerto Rican independence movement.
A. U.S. Congress
Both houses of the United States Congress recently considered legislation proposed by Puerto Rico’s non-voting resident commissioner, allegedly addressing the colonial status of Puerto Rico. While its proponent publicly asserted that the bill was not an invitation to Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the union, the bill was widely seen as one promoting that very result. The bill, which earned lobbyists millions of dollars, called for allowing plebiscites in Puerto Rico, the results of which would not be binding on the U.S. Congress. The island’s main daily newspaper — known for its conservative position on the status question — in an editorial denounced the “arrogant” behavior of the members of the House and Senate, and called the process “an insensitive charade,” and “another exercise in futility that continues to lacerate the self-esteem and collective spirit of the Puerto Rican people as a result of its political controversy.”
The congressional process does not begin to approach compliance with the resolutions of this august Committee, which call upon the government of the U.S. to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people fully to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).
B. White House
There is no ministry or any formal office of the U.S. government charged with responsibility for administering the colony. However, in 2000, a President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico was created which this year held two poorly attended sessions to listen to testimony from witnesses recommended by the electoral parties. Task Force representatives, who asserted their report would be “neutral” on the status question, were perceived as either lacking interest or ignorant, even by prominent supporters of statehood. A report is due in October, though expectations are generally low.
II. Colonial administration continues to threaten the future of the nation
Many of the specters of disaster augured in our last report to this Committee have unfortunately come to pass — evidence that the continuing colonial relationship is in dire need of a just solution. The pro-statehood administration on the island has:
• laid off some 20,000 government employees, applying “Law No. 7,” which gave them emergency powers to effect fiscal measures;
• packed the Puerto Rico Supreme Court with loyal pro-statehood party members;
• attempted to do away with the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the oldest professional organization in Puerto Rico;
• threatened to privatize the government assets that remain in the public domain, including the vast system of higher education;
• slashed the budget of every cultural institution which preserves and promulgates the dynamic culture of the Puerto Rican people;
• moved against a squatter community of Dominican immigrants and against a longstanding, well-organized community of descendants of displaced workers, all the while squandering exorbitant amounts of public money lobbying U.S. Congress in efforts to influence annexationist legislation. All this in the context of collapsing banks and the highest unemployment rate in years.
In response to these crises, a delegation of our International Committee went to Puerto Rico to conduct an onsite investigation of the Puerto Rican government’s policies aimed at individuals who promote and defend fundamental human rights, and emerged with a plan to coordinate with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the American Association of Jurists to denounce the retrograde laws, support the Puerto Rico Bar Association, and, inter alia, file amicus briefs in the cases involving Vieques and the Caño Martín Peña, squatter community.
Resistance to these violations of human rights has continued to grow on the island, with work and student stoppages and daylong general strikes that enjoyed wide participation by labor and every sector of society. Recently, university students are in the fore, in a two month long non-confrontational strike, supported by parents, professors, university workers, unions, religious organizations, indeed by the whole of civil society. There was widespread concern for the safety and well-being of the student leaders, both during the strike and once the strike comes to an end, as riot police have not only assaulted the students, their parents, legal observers and journalists; (see http://www.elnuevodia.com/ungraveerrordecalculodelaadministracion-705435.html). Police have publicly stated their desire to commit violence, and their police chief, a former FBI agent, has expressed his unwavering support for his troops. Hopefully, the recent court-ordered negotiated settlement, in which the students emerged victorious, will avert the anticipated police violence.
III. Political prisoners
This year has been historically significant for Puerto Rico’s political prisoners held in United States prisons. Carlos Alberto Torres marked 30 years of prison, for his struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico, becoming the longest held political prisoner in the history of that nation. After a campaign including over 10,000 letters of support to the U.S. Parole Commission, he will be released on parole next month, in spite of persistent efforts by the Bureau of Prisons to sabotage his parole.
Oscar López Rivera this year marked 29 years in prison. López, 67 years old, and serving a sentence of 70 years, has a release date of 2023. Avelino González Claudio, also 67 years old, was just sentenced to a prison term of seven years, in spite of his advanced Parkinson’s disease.
The harshness of the conditions under which they are held may be exemplified by Mr. López’s recent experience, when his older sister suffered a series of heart attacks and was near death in intensive care. Even though the family offered to pay for his travel as well as the expenses for staff who would accompany him, prison officials rejected out of hand the request that he be permitted to visit her bedside, focusing on the extraordinary length of his sentence, the years remaining to be served, and the political nature of the charges. The denial was dated one week before the 29th anniversary of his arrest. Not only did the warden deny the furlough request, but he even refused to allow López to purchase telephone minutes in addition to the allotted 300 minutes per month, so that he could at least stay in touch with the family.
Coincidentally, these denials came at precisely the same time that the Cuban government — reviled by the United States for allegedly violating the human rights of those in its custody — followed up on its promise to move Cuban dissidents closer to their families, though their sentences are only a fraction of those being served by Oscar and his compatriot Carlos Alberto Torres in U.S. prisons. Not surprisingly, the move did not satisfy the U.S. government, whose State Department spokesperson said, “We hope that the prisoners of conscience will be unconditionally set free and in the very near future.” It seems that the U.S. is too busy meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations, and insisting on the release of “prisoners of conscience,” to tend to the human rights of its own political prisoners and comply with the international law and this Committee’s resolutions applying it.
The political prisoners remain strong in spirit, their commitment to the independence of their nation undaunted, in spite of adversity.
Puerto Rican scientists successfully unmasked the junk science relied upon by U.S. government agencies which falsely put forth that the people of Vieques suffered no adverse consequences from the dangerous toxic aftermath of decades of occupation by the U.S. Navy. However, the U.S. has still not taken responsibility for the clean up, and Vieques remains on the Super Fund list. (See http://www.elnuevodia.com/voces/689639/; Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, CNN Special Investigations Unit, “Island residents sue U.S., saying military made them sick,” CNN, February 1, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/01/vieques.illness/index.html; Tim Padgett, “Toxic Chemicals at Vieques: Is U.S. Accountable?” Time, September 16, 2009, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1924101,00.html.) Recently, the U.S. court in Puerto Rico dismissed the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the people of Vieques, finding that the U.S. government was immune from suit. An appeal is pending. [...]
The National Lawyers Guild International Committee, incorporating the requests sought by other presenters before this Honorable Committee, urges the adoption of a resolution calling for the General Assembly to consider the case of Puerto Rico; and calling on the government of the United States to:
• immediately cease the criminalization and harassment of, and attacks on, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement;
• immediately release Puerto Rican political prisoners: Carlos Alberto Torres, who has served more than 30 years in U.S. custody; Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has served more than 29 years in U.S. custody, and Avelino Gonzalez Claudio;
• identify and hold criminally liable all those responsible for the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos (2005), Santiago Mari Pesquera (1976), Carlos MuZiz Varela (1979), and other militants of the Puerto Rican independence movement;
• withdraw the FBI, the U.S. court, and all other U.S. police, repressive and military forces from Puerto Rico;
• withdraw from Vieques, formally return legal property of the land to the people of Vieques, cease detonating unexploded ordnance, completely clean up the pollution left by the U.S. Navy’s 60 year occupation through the use of proven, environmentally friendly clean-up methods, and compensate the people of Vieques for the damage to their health done to them by the same;
• cease and desist from the application of the death penalty in Puerto Rico;
• ensure that striking students are not harmed or penalized for their courageous struggle to maintain the right to quality public higher education;
• formally commit to negotiate in good faith with the people of Puerto Rico a solution to the colonial condition; and recognize the proposals that emanate from a Constitutional Assembly, initiated by the people of Puerto Rico, such as that called for by the Puerto Rico Bar Association, as the true expression of the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico, and respond to them accordingly.
— National Lawyers Guild International Committee, June 21, 2010
Free Oscar Lopez Rivera Now
In solidarity with the National Boricua Human Rights Network's (NBHRN) new campaign to ask for parole for Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of our two Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, ProLibertad has started an online petition to demand President Barack Obama commute Oscar’s sentence or give him parole.
We are asking all freedom loving people to support both the online petition, which will be sent to President Barack Obama once we have reached our goal of 10,000 petitioners, and to support the letter writing campaign by the NBHRN. Our letters and online support will help us bring one of the longest held political prisoners home!
Both campaigns are important! We must use all avenues available to help win parole/commutation for Oscar.
Petition for Oscar's Release:
and send a letter out: http://boricuahumanrights.org
Rhythm, Rhymes and Revolution:
Join us for a night of incredible poetry, rap and spoken word as we unite to help our brother former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres!
• The Welfare Poets [TOP]
International Tribunal Puts Fight Against U.S. Colonialism Center-Stage
We reprint below an article from Voice of Revolution, January 2001, on the International Tribunal on Violations of Human Rights in Puerto Rico held in Puerto Rico in November 2000. The Tribunal brought to the fore the crimes of U.S. imperialism against Puerto Rico and marked an important development in the struggle for Puerto Rican independence and freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoners. It was part of vigorous struggle at that time on the island of Vieques and all of Puerto Rico to drive the U.S. Navy out and win freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoners, a battle that was successful. The fight for reparations for the damage done to Vieques, as well as for release of two remaining political prisoners, Oscar López Rivera and Avelino González Claudio, continues. Puerto Rico remains occupied by the U.S. military, which still has two active Army bases and numerous facilities that could readily be activated. Voice of Revolution joins Puerto Ricans in demanding complete U.S. withdrawal and immediate submission to the requirements of decolonization as required by international law and the UN decolonization committee. End the occupation of Puerto Rico!
* * *
The International Tribunal on Violations of Human Rights in Puerto Rico and Vieques by the U.S., found the U.S. guilty of “multiple gross violations of the human rights of the people of Puerto Rico and particularly the population of Vieques.” The Tribunal was held on the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques from November 17-20, 2000 and concluded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 21, 2000. A panel of eight international judges heard testimony on nine charges of human rights violations. Dozens of international and national observers attended. A press conference on November 21 announced the unanimous guilty verdict. Each of the judges expressed their commitment to make the verdict widely known in their countries and to continue to call on the U.S. government to end its human rights violations.
This Tribunal was the first time that the all-sided crimes of U.S. imperialism against the people of Vieques were put on trial for all to see. The testimony from a broad cross-section of women, youth, workers and religious leaders from Vieques provided a chilling account of the brutal crimes of U.S. imperialism. U.S. genocide — resulting from the decades-long military bombardment and terrorism of the population, especially women and young girls, and the economic, environmental, health and cultural devastation of colonialism — were systematically exposed.
This Tribunal was the first time that the all-sided crimes of U.S. imperialism against the people of Vieques were put on trial for all to see. The testimony from a broad cross-section of women, youth, workers, and religious leaders from Vieques provided a chilling account of the brutal crimes of U.S. imperialism. U.S. genocide — resulting from the decades-long military bombardment and terrorism of the population, especially women and young girls, and the economic, environmental, health and cultural devastation of colonialism — were systematically exposed. The courage of the witnesses, united against U.S. occupation, was inspiring to all present. Putting Vieques center-stage also strengthened the determination of the people of Vieques and Puerto Rico as a whole to carry forward the struggle to end U.S. occupation. The all-sided character of the charges and testimony brought to the fore that the struggle of Puerto Ricans for their rational and human rights is a single whole, aimed against the source of all the problems, U.S. colonialism.
Organized by the Puerto Rican Committee on Human Rights and the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, the Tribunal was opened on Friday, November 17 in Vieques. Dr. Luis Nieves Falcon, head of the Committee on Human Rights, spoke to the packed crowd at the Yaureibo Cultural center in Fort Count Mirasol. He emphasized that the holding of the Tribunal served to defend the dignity and humanity of the Puerto Rican people and showed their contributions to affirming the humanity of the world’s people. A number of people from Vieques, who were present in large numbers, were introduced. The group of five People’s Lawyers presenting the case against the U.S. was also introduced, as were the panel of judges. The judges, all human rights activists or jurists, came from Canada, East Timor, Germany, Puerto Rico, South African, Spain and the U.S.
On Saturday, the testimony of Lolita Lebron and Alicia Rodriguez, both former political prisoners, was the highlight of the day. Lolita Lebron, one of Puerto Rico’s most renowned patriots, gave a militant indictment of U.S. imperialism and its crimes against the Puerto Rican people. Arrested in the U.S. in the 1950’s for successfully leading a group of patriots into the U.S. Congress and opening fire directly on these representatives of colonialism and genocide, jailed for 25 years, she and her family were harassed and terrorized for her entire lifetime. Lolita Lebron deeply moved all present with her unflinching stand against U.S. imperialism, for independence and for the dignity of all Puerto Ricans. Alicia Rodriguez, who was imprisoned in the U.S. for 19 and a half years for her stand against U.S. colonialism, emphasized that the attack on her and all the Puerto Rican prisoners was a political one. All were given extraordinarily long sentences and kept in jail because they refused to recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. government and stood firm for independence. She explained that she was able to sustain her own dignity as a human being by strengthening her political convictions. Throughout her confinement, she, like all the other political prisoners, were told they would be released if they would abandon their principles and renounce their political views. All refused. It is this quality of being political that the U.S. jailers systematically attacked, in an effort to eliminate her humanity, she said.
The first day of testimony also brought out the significance the patriotic movement in Puerto Rico. Well known veterans of the movement, such as Lolita Lebron, Juan Mari Bras and Noel Colon Martinez were all present, as were eight of the nine recently released political prisoners now living in Puerto Rico. The day’s testimony fully revealed the long history of U.S. aggression and colonization of Puerto Rico, the wrecking and domination of the economy, militarization of the island, especially Vieques, and the political repression and criminalization of all those fighting for their rights.
On Sunday, the testimony of the people from Vieques put its mark on the Tribunal. A powerful combination of eye-witness accounts of rape, terrorism and murder by the U.S. military, of families and communities devastated by high rates of cancer and lead and radiation poisoning, resulting from the on-going Navy bombardment, as well as factual material on the destruction of the economy and environment, moved everyone present. Few knew the full extent of the U.S. genocide against the people of Vieques. None would forget the dignity and courage of the women and youth, fishermen and ministers, who testified to the U.S. crimes against the people of Vieques and to the people’s continuing battle to get the Navy out.
Monday morning, testimony of the forced migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. and the genocide against women was brought out. Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, born and raised in Chicago, spoke of the fierce struggle of the 3 million Puerto Ricans in the U.S. to defend their language, culture and national rights. He elaborated on the necessity of Puerto Ricans everywhere to fight to affirm their national identity and resist the pressures to abandon their language and culture. He and others addressed the discrimination and higher levels of unemployment and poverty faced by Puerto Ricans in the U.S.
The testimony on crimes against women brought out that Puerto Rican women have one of the highest rates of sterilization in the world, a clear crime of genocide as elaborated in UN documents, which list “imposing measures intended to prevent births to another group” as an act of genocide.
During the evenings, Tribunal participants were treated to lively performances by local bands singing traditional music and songs of protest. On one evening a vigil was held at the on-going peace camp in Vieques, across from a fenced entrance to the land occupied by the Navy. Various activists spoke and slogans demanding that the Navy get out rang out repeatedly.
On Monday afternoon, participants boarded the ferry and made the trip back to San Juan. It was brought out that the ferry trip is almost twice as long because of Navy restrictions of the waterways. IN the evening, the Puerto Rican Bar Association hosted a reception for all Tribunal participants. The People’s lawyers presented closing arguments, summarizing the wealth of evidence documenting all nine charges of U.S. human rights violations. They emphasized the significance of an International Tribunal taking a stand against U.S. colonialism, bringing out that this is a time when worldwide the issues of democracy and human rights are on the agenda. A guilty verdict, based on the clear and convincing evidence, would provide an important weapon in the on-going struggle for Puerto Rican independence.
At the Tuesday morning press conference the verdict was presented: U.S. guilty of systematic human rights violations against the people of Puerto Rico. Judge after judge stood up to express their outrage at the crimes committed and the dignity and courage of the witnesses. It was brought out that the guilty verdict has a significant political and moral impact on the U.S., especially given the current political crisis in the U.S. It serves to undermine U.S. standing internationally and its efforts to legitimize its colonial rule over Puerto Rico. All those present were called on to take the verdict far and wide and to join in circulating a letter to President Clinton, calling for immediate amnesty for all remaining Puerto Rican political prisoners and the immediate end to all Navy bombardments of Vieques. There is no question that the Tribunal inspired all present to vigorously support this struggle.
• Violation of the Right to Self-Determination and Independence of Puerto Rico;
• Repression, Persecution, Criminalization, and Incarceration of Opponents of the U.S.’s Colonial Policies in Puerto Rico;
• Extensive Violations Of Human Rights of the People of Vieques that are Tantamount to Genocide;
• Increased Militarization Of Puerto Rico in Violation of International Law and World Public Opinion;
• U.S. Economic Domination, Exploitation, and Dependency Preventing Development of Puerto Rico’s Economy;
• Displacement of the Population;
• General Environmental Degradation of the Archipelago of Puerto Rico
• Crimes Against Women, Crimes Against the Reproductive Rights of Women;
• Crimes Against The Puerto Rican Language And Culture.
The charges are based on violations of numerous UN declarations and resolutions and instruments of international law, such as the Conventions on Genocide, Racial Discrimination, and Civil and Political Rights, the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, numerous resolutions of the UN Decolonization Committee, etc.
Verdict of the International Tribunal, November, 2000
According to the evidence presented before this Tribunal through direct testimonies and expert witnesses, this Tribunal concludes that the United States has committed systematic violations of human rights regarding Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination; has persecuted opponents to United States colonial policies; has increased militarization on the islands and, thereby, threatened peace in the region; has continued the economic exploitation; has forced the displacement of much of the population of Vieques; and caused the economic and political repression of Puerto Ricans in the diaspora; has caused a general degradation of the environment; has committed abuses against women and against the cultural rights of the population.
This Tribunal urges that the United States of America take the following steps without any further delay.
1) Transfer all sovereign powers to the People of Puerto Rico, without any conditions or reservations, to enable Puerto Ricans to exercise peacefully and freely their right to self-determination, in the manner Puerto Ricans deem most appropriate, and to secure the integrity of their national territory.
2) Release the remaining political prisoners and cease all forms of repression against those working against colonialism.
3) Take immediate steps to end the military exploitation and colonial oppression of the people of Puerto Rico, including the immediate cessation of bombing in and around Vieques and the removal of all military installations from the territory of Puerto Rico.
4) Redress all damages caused to the natural wealth and resources of Puerto Rico and Vieques, caused by of the military activities of the United States, and to provide for full reparations for the injuries caused to the people of Vieques, and the damage to their environment, including all measures for the complete decontamination of the island, and surrounding air and waters, and for the economic recovery and development of the island. Only in this manner will the People of Puerto Rico be in a situation to fully exercise their right to self-determination and freely pursue their economic social and cultural development.
Dr. Dennis Brutus, South Africa, human rights activist, poet and former political prisoner under apartheid; Dr. Manuel Ramon Alarcon Caracuel, Spain, Dean of the Law School of the University of Seville; Dr. Rainer Huhle, Germany, human rights activist; Attorney Aderito de Jesus Soares, East Timor, human rights activist; Chief’s Designee F. Ryan Malonson, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah; Dr. Antonia Pantoja, Puerto Rico, Congressional Medal of Freedom 1996; Dr. Grahame Russell, Canada, human rights activist; The Most Rev. Walter F. Sullivan, U.S., human rights activist, bishop head of Pax Christi.