by Hector Lopez, Green Party of Connecticut
My name is Hector Lopez. I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, until my family immigrated to the United States when I was fourteen. My father and three uncles survived the Ponce massacre, one of a series of repressive measures perpetrated by United States appointed governors. I currently reside in the state of Connecticut with my family.
Puerto Rico’s struggle for liberty dates back to the uprisings of its Native Americans, the revolts by the African slaves forced to work on the island, and the revolution of 1868 to free itself from Spanish colonialism. Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances led the uprising. Let us not forget the uprising in Jayuya Puerto Rico in October 1950, the attack on Blair House, the assault on the U.S. Congress in 1954, the student strikes during the Fifties and subsequent decades up to now, and the struggle for Vieques against the U.S. Navy. This historical process inflames our hearts and passions for our hallowed land.
Puerto Ricoís case is not one of civil rights; it is one of national rights. To vote for the U.S. president is to deny our right to self-determination and independence. England applied the Sea Acts to the Thirteen Colonies and the U.S. applies the laws of ìcabotageî to Puerto Rico.
In 1897, Spain granted Puerto Rico the ìCharter of Autonomy,î which gave the Puerto Ricans almost all the attributes of an independent nation. In 1898, during the Spanish-U.S. War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States. The U.S. navy bombed San Juan the capital, unnecessarily killing one hundred persons. The U.S. is still committing atrocities today, killing our patriots. As an outcome of the war in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.
The Puerto Rican People did not participate in the negotiations of the Treaty of Paris that ìgrantedî Puerto Rico to the United States. †The United States and Spain violated international laws, and today the U.S. is still occupying Puerto Rico illegally. ìThe invasion of Puerto Rico was an act of international piracy,î said Pedro Albizu Campos, the Nationalist Party leader. After the occupation in 1917, by fiat, second-class citizenship was imposed on the citizens of Puerto Rico against their will through the Jones Act.
Claridad, the pro-independence newspaper, said ìThe United States Government states that it can cede or sell Puerto Rico at any time to any nation or any other party with wildlife and every thing in it (we are the wildlife).î
On June 9, 2008 at the U.N., the Governor of Puerto Rico declared it was a ìfraud on the Puerto Rican people.î On that same day, the U.N. called upon the United States to expedite self-determination and independence for the Puerto Rican People. They stated that exporting the U.S. electoral primaries to an enslaved country such as Puerto Rico is a gross violation of its dignity and national sovereignty.
Michael Janeway reported in his article ìPuerto Ricoís Moment in the Sunî (NY Times, May 22, 2008) that ìLuis Munoz Marin was an eloquent advocate of independence,î but what he does not know is that Munoz did not have the moral fiber and the courage to stand up to the threats of the U.S. Government, and if he kept preaching about independence he would be arrested and incarcerated. Contrary to Munoz, Campos stood up as a real patriot and defied the empire. Today he stands as our national conscience. Munoz is our Benedict Arnold.
Puerto Ricoís case is not one of civil rights; it is one of national rights.
Any researcher who investigates colonialism will realize that socio-economic and political oppression can make a people afraid of being free. The ìStockholm syndromeî takes hold and the colonized begin to identify with the kidnapper by voting for statehood and identifying as members of the oppressive colonizer. They become denationalized and un-Puerto Rican in spirit, thereby becoming agents of colonial occupation.
On June 29, 2008, CBS reported that 100 million U.S. citizens have no dental care, besides the 47 million who have no medical care either. The corporations are leading the United States down a path of warmongering and destruction of other nations and the planet. Why should we follow that path? One cannot forget Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which show openly what statehood would be like for Puerto Rico. All of the above is proof that statehood means our annihilation physically and culturally.
Puerto Rico has its own culture, beliefs and traditions. It is completely capable of governing itself. Is the United States governing itself correctly? The United States government has no jurisdiction in Puerto Rico. Instead, it imposes its laws by the force of arms.
Let my people go! Freedom now!