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idiot independentistas here don't know anything about ECONOMICS...

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  • idiot independentistas here don't know anything about ECONOMICS...

    I have poked fun at Ekwahey for not taking College level Economics, but seeing how a Linguistics PhD like the Angry Alcapurria mentioned that the WTC site should be a "Peace" University, I realized again, once more, that most "independentistas" here are totally ignorant about ECONOMICS.

    Let me say it once again:
    • Money cannot be manufactured EX-NIHILO
    • (that is, "from NOTHING", for those other independentistas who wonder).
    Countries have to back up their money with VALUABLE and INTERCHANGEABLE currencies. If a country prints money without it having any value, then it is worthless, and you may as well pay a million of those "pesos" for a loaf of bread. Printing money must be based on the VALUE of a country's Economy.

    You see, the premise for the concept and study of the word ECONOMY, is the fact that there is only so much of anything to go around. For example, if gold would be as PLENTIFUL as sand grains now and silicon dioxide grains
    (sand grains, you idiots) were as SCARCE as gold is now, then people would use silicon dioxide as a currrency, instead of gold.

    Things that are PLENTY are cheap
    (like mangoes in May in Puerto Rico), and things that are SCARCE are expensive. Naturally, nobody cares much for what there is plenty of.

    Then, related to this thought: a person or country changes what he/it has plenty of with another who lacks that item, and he/it gets something in return for which it has little of.

    Also related to the notion of SCARCITY, our Nation needs to promote more activity in things that will that increase the amount of money available to create more jobs and to fund all the social obligations it has with its own citizens. The USA
    (and Puerto Rico) does not need more Angry Marxists kids who depend on their parents and society to support their pleasure-seeking and immaturity. The USA (and Puerto Rico) needs more people working in finances and industrial activity. The USA (and Puerto Rico) need more people PRODUCING VALUABLE STUFF and not more people depending on others.

    Now, on the issue of sky-scrapers, the lower part of Manhattan has a very valuable piece of land out of which can come in-out allot of commerce. If they were to dedicate that area to a Marxist University to train angry activists, the residents of New York City with their million dollar apartments, who pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes each, would move out in no time, and then New York City would have allot of Billions of dollars less to pay for all the government services needed to run the City. Also, hundred of businesses would move out of the city, taking with them Billions of dollars also. In such a situation New York City would become like Havana is nowadays, a decrepit shell of its former glory, just like the postmenopausal Angry Alcapurria is. And if New York City becomes an Angry Alcapurria City, NOBODY is going to go there.

    I know that many of you idiots would love New York City to be a second Beirut, but hey, there are lots of us who don't. In FACT, there are 999 of us for every one of you, so case closed.

    What then of the former WTC?

    Well, our Nation has been hurt for this violent act, perpetrated by people with similar feelings to the Angry Alcapurria. Also, we need to keep New York City vibrant, both economically as well as socially.

    Therefore, the most logical alternative is to REBUILD, and equal to the former glory, if not better, for otherwise, the 3,000 lives lost would have died in vain.

  • #2
    Jibaro:

    I have spent some time telling some compañeros the concept of wealth creation. This can only be done in a free society where the talented citizens are allowed to produce according to their skills and not forced to be one of the group. They do not understand the concept that man needs incentives to be productive. They seem to get lost in inumerable mindless details about who did what to whom as they generally dislike anything associated with capitalism.

    I have been told by some of my scientists friends that perhaps the tendency to be a left winger has to do with some sort of un-usual wiring of the brain. I am starting to think this is true because many of these folks talk exactly the same way. Maybe there is a left wing gene. Will see!!!


    Los recuerdos suelen
    Contarte mentiras



    Stanley

    Comment


    • #3
      By the way, the same idiot independentistas think

      [i]that Puerto Rico could create money out of NOTHING.

      Lets see, Puerto Rico's gross domestic product is about S40 Billions.

      Out of those $40 Billions, 51% is tied to GOVERNMENT EXPENSES
      (roads, cupones, etc...).

      Where do those GOVERNMENT EXPENSES are funded from?
      • More than half come from the Federal Government:
      • $4 Billions - Social Security Payments
      • $3 Billions - Medicare Payments
      • $2 Billions - Welfare Grants
      • $3 Billions - Capital Infraestructure Grants
        Less than half of the money comes from local commerce and residents:
      • $9 Billions - Local State taxes

      Less than half of the Puerto Rico GDP is produced and spent locally by private enterprise .

      Some other idiots in this forum have said that the United Nations, or the European Union could replace the US Federal Government $12 Billions. I don't think they can pay less than a quarter of that, let alone the entire sum, and then if at all, Puerto Rico would be a EU-Colony, or perhaps a UN-Colony.


      I know, some like Sila, want their cousins in Spain to rule again Puerto Rico, but we have tasted the freedom to say and think what we may, so clearly, Europe is not our answer, and even less the UN which has a very spotty record...

      BTW, you really made the Angry Alcapurria Junior, i.e. Sooki-Sooki, really angry by pointing out here Havana loyalties... Not bad, bro!





      [Edited by El_Jibaro on 31st January 2003 at 20:41]

      Comment


      • #4
        El_Jibaro calling people idiots and throwing cheap-shots at them doesn't give any more credibility to your posts that what they're already worth, which isn't much, to say the least. I've stopped attacking you months ago, ignoring entire posts and threads of yours to avoid trouble. I peak and write my comments time to time, justifiably. (Are you still angry over the reply about you not having original posts? Hey, cutting and pasting a post I read two years ago and acting as if you just wrote it does seem you're getting bored and I wasn't alone in that thought either.) You already know that I'm not in College yet, so therefore how could I take college economic classes? I also already wrote to you that I will take them when I go into college anyway. As Nacionalista wrote, you may indeed must be suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

        Stanely, don't judge all independentistas or leftists by the crazed and intolerant actions of Suki and Eddier1, because having people like El_Jibaro and AnotherRican here, who insult and provoke, it's pretty hard to trust anyone who supports statehood or is right-wing. However, even though we've argued on many subjects, you wrote yourself many times that you agreed with me and I never intentionally insulted you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thin skin...

          You know Ekwa, I have not called YOU directly an idiot, only your more irate friends. Go ahead, have the Moderator expunge all dissent and jocular debate, you only will make yourself look small...

          Comment


          • #6
            Stan, the thread posted by El_Jibaro is a little right (in numbers) about the budget that Puerto Rico is living today, compare to were that money will come from is it becomes Independent or even Statehood.

            Now, the thread is incomplete and is ignoring many facts about Puerto Rico.

            The thread makes it sounds like we are pushing Puerto Rico to the edge of the ridge to see it fall down..

            The independentistas know all about the money constraints.

            Do you guys really think the independentistas are that stupid?

            Like I said before, the independence will not come overnight and one obvious reason is money.

            The USA will not abandon Puerto Rico during the transition and after it becomes a republic, that is a fact.

            I always noticed how El_Jibaro portray Puerto Ricans like a welfare case. Like the Puerto Ricans don't have education and never will be able to take care of the island themselves.

            Think about that. Are we (Puerto Ricans in general) are so stupid that can't be responsible to support ourselves as a republic?

            Are we Puerto Ricans are condemned to be feed by the USA forever?

            What kind of faith you guys have on our youth generation of highly educated Puerto Ricans?

            How much you guys appreciate all the leaders like Romero, Ferre, Berrios, Hernandez-Colon, and many others that will serve as counselors for our young Puerto Ricans to take charge of the Island.

            See, that is the problem with the Estadistas. Don’t have any vision of the future and if they have some, they only see damnation.


            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by El_Jibaro
              You know Ekwa, I have not called YOU directly an idiot, only your more irate friends. Go ahead, have the Moderator expunge all dissent and jocular debate, you only will make yourself look small...
              Nor did I write that you called me specifically an idiot. However, as I wrote, calling people idiots in general takes away credibility from your "arguements." I don't see how you find your posts to be "jocular" when you use tragedies, such as 9-11-01 and military plane crashes to defame independentistas on this forum. You're the one who looks "small" when you do that, not I.

              I have no power over the moderators, nor do I even contact them. (However, it was genious of Nacionalista to bring up the fact that you've been coming to this forum for years while supposedly "working." No wonder you're coming to this forum less and less and when you do, you seemingly come after you left work, lol.) Whatever they decide to do with your offensive and supposed "jocular" posts is up to them. Don't worry, I don't hate you even after you continue to "murder" my forum screen name. Take care.

              Comment


              • #8
                To be left, or left behind

                Originally posted by Stanley
                I have been told by some of my scientists friends that perhaps the tendency to be a left winger has to do with some sort of un-usual wiring of the brain. I am starting to think this is true because many of these folks talk exactly the same way. Maybe there is a left wing gene. Will see!!!
                Hey Stan!

                Perhaps we can put our left brains together on this one. Do a little research on the latest findings in biochemistry as they relate to abiogenesis, then take a look at my thread "General Theorem of Existence" posted at page 3 of the Philosophy forum and let me know what you think.

                Regards, Raul

                Comment


                • #9
                  Raul, I wil check it out.

                  To all others, I sometimes may throw a stinger here and there and I apologize if someone gets hurt. I do try to be a little funny, but I also try to talk the issues.

                  I do get a lot of stingers thrown at me and that is OK. I don't mind.



                  Los recuerdos suelen
                  Contarte mentiras



                  Stanley

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stan, you seems to have an open mind.

                    I refuse to accept that you believe that the latest Puertorican generation can't take care of the island by themselves.

                    I have my highest trust on our youngsters, and with the guidance of all our political leaders (regarless of political definition) we (Puerto Rico) can make it.

                    Especially if we have the greatest country behind us.

                    I don't have anything against the USA people. But I am really mad at their Federal government that don't let us pick our own destination whatever it is, state or republic.

                    I believe we the Puertoricans can make it on our own and be the best junior democratic country in the world.

                    Now, in your own opinion you tell how IDIOTIC that
                    can be.

                    You tell me Stan. If it is IDIOCY I will respect your opinion.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Dependency

                      We independentistas know that we are dependent. Each time
                      that Populares/independentistas want to have the liberty to trade, to produce exports the blue Uncle Toms get a heart attack. I forgot his name but he is PNP. When Sila wanted
                      to develop trade this guy from the PNP wrote to the State Deparment of the US not to allow such thing.

                      The blue Uncle Toms are the apologist to allow mass imports without any tarrifs. They do not support any iniciatice for Puerto Rico to develop exports. All the imports are considered "Porto" Rican.

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        I believe we the Puertoricans can make it on our own and be the best junior democratic country in the world.

                        Now, in your own opinion you tell how IDIOTIC that
                        can be.

                        You tell me Stan. If it is IDIOCY I will respect your opinion.


                        I beg you to read my posts. I am a nationalist at heart and I carried the flag of the PIP with me in my car as a youngster.



                        I simply fear the communists. It is clear that some independentistas are rabid communists. I used to think this was not true, but if you listen to several forum members you will see many are true and true Marxists. In the past they used to hiude their ideology to fool others, but now they are more open about it.

                        I would be willing to participate if I knew in my heart that we would have a democracy and law and order. I would hate to have to get a gun to defend myself from a bunch of loony communists trying to seize power by force. I don't mind a blend of capitalism and socialistic principles as the Europeans do. But, these folks are something else----- they are true communists and believe in everything that comes with it including no right to private property.


                        Los recuerdos suelen
                        Contarte mentiras



                        Stanley

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What the Hell....?

                          Originally posted by Ecuajey
                          [/B]
                          Stanely, don't judge all independentistas or leftists by the crazed and intolerant actions of Suki and Eddier1, because having people like El_Jibaro and AnotherRican here, who insult and provoke, it's pretty hard to trust anyone who supports statehood or is right-wing.
                          -----------------------------------
                          Ecuajey, I can't speak for Suki, nor do I "drop" names like you do irresponsibly, but I reject totally what you said that I am "crazed and intolerant". Being bi-polar, or having a multiple personality flaw does not apply to me. And you better ask Suki, if she agrees with what you said about her. I speak for no one in this forum, but myself! I think that you owe me an apology on this one, Ecuajey, don't you think?

                          HACIA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE BORICUAS,
                          Soy Puertorrique/no y Punto.
                          EddieR
                          E.1: TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK - V.I. Lenin

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The road less traveled

                            Originally posted by Stanley
                            . . . I am a nationalist at heart and I carried the flag of the PIP with me in my car as a youngster.

                            I simply fear the communists. It is clear that some independentistas are rabid communists. I used to think this was not true, but if you listen to several forum members you will see many are true and true Marxists. In the past they used to hiude their ideology to fool others, but now they are more open about it.

                            I would be willing to participate if I knew in my heart that we would have a democracy and law and order. I would hate to have to get a gun to defend myself from a bunch of loony communists trying to seize power by force. I don't mind a blend of capitalism and socialistic principles as the Europeans do. But, these folks are something else----- they are true communists and believe in everything that comes with it including no right to private property.
                            Stan,

                            In view of the sentiments that you express here, did you happen to catch my post to Senor_Gringo at page 3 of the thread "If you can explain to this Gringo"? After a reading of that post, as well as the Plan for Independence and Summary of the Plan (my threads of Feb 1), I am wondering whether you view this as more of the same, or the road less traveled.

                            Regards, Raul

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Linda Backiel

                              The People of Vieques, Puerto Rico vs. the United States Navy
                              by Linda Backiel

                              An Independent Socialist Magazine

                              Linda Backiel is a human rights and criminal defense lawyer living in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

                              For current information and background on Vieques, information about joining or supporting the civil disobedience campaign and the efforts to decontaminate Vieques and create a sustainable plan for development in Vieques, contact: Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. Tel: 787-741-0716. E-mail: bieke@prdigital.com. Also see http://www.viequeslibre.org.
                              David Brandishes a Slingshot

                              On April 19, 1999, two F-18 jets mistook the navy’s red-and-white checked observation post on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico for a target, and dropped 500 pound bombs on it. Vieques resident David Sanes was working at the observation post as a security guard for the navy. He was killed almost instantly. Three other men from Vieques were seriously injured. Sanes’ death sparked a wave of protest—civil disobedience, marches, petitions, resolutions, and lobbying—which resulted in the promise, made by then U.S. President Clinton and reiterated by his successor, that the navy will leave Vieques by May 2003. The navy says these plans will not be affected by war on Iraq. As veterans of earlier navy promises, the Viequenses, and the people of Puerto Rico, are wary.

                              That promise from a U.S. president represents an unprecedented victory for Puerto Rico. It is a victory not only over the Colossus of the North, to whom Puerto Rico is still in colonial thrall, but also over the perennial divisions created by the uncertainty about its relation to the United States and the rest of the world. To appreciate the significance of that victory, some history is necessary.

                              Vieques is a fifty-two-square-mile island about fifteen miles to the southeast of the main island of Puerto Rico. It has a population of 9,400 and is one of Puerto Rico’s seventy-eight municipalities. According to the United States Supreme Court, Puerto Rico is legally an “unincorporated territory” which “belongs to, but is not part of” the United States. Under U.S. law, Puerto Rico is neither an independent nation, nor a state. Its official title “Estado Libre Asociado” literally means “free associated state,” but the United States has decreed that the only acceptable translation is “commonwealth.” Puerto Rico enjoys none of the sovereignty of members of the British Commonwealth. Instead, it has a degree of autonomy over local government, but no power whatsoever over issues related to international relations, defense, and relations with the United States. U.S. laws, except those few specifically determined “locally inapplicable” are applied in Puerto Rico by U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies. One symbol of this relationship is the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

                              Puerto Rico enjoyed considerably more autonomy in 1898, when it was invaded by the United States, than it does today. It was then an autonomous territory of Spain, with its own legislature, courts, and money. Invaded and colonized by the Spanish during the previous four centuries, it had developed a unique culture within clearly defined natural borders. As the result of the nineteenth century wars of liberation in Latin America and Puerto Rico’s close collaboration with the movements that generated them, Spain negotiated a Treaty of Autonomy with Puerto Rico. The relationship between Puerto Rico and Spain, which included deputies sent to the equivalent of the Spanish legislature, could not be altered without mutual consent.

                              After the U.S. Navy invaded Puerto Rico at Guánica and bombarded San Juan (resulting in civilian casualties) during W. Randolph Hearst’s “splendid little war,” the United States demanded Spain “cede” Puerto Rico as part of the price of peace. Its eastern coast would provide a coaling station and strategic outpost in the Caribbean for the navy. Under the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris (in which no representative of Puerto Rico was involved or consulted), Spain purported to cede to the United States as war booty what it had no right to cede: the territory, seas, natural resources, and people of Puerto Rico. Vieques was part of that war booty.

                              Between 1941 and the mid-1950s, the U.S. Navy expropriated 26,000 of Vieques’ 33,000 acres by process of eminent domain, as an annex to its huge Roosevelt Roads base located on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast at Ceiba. Only the largest landholders—primarily the sugar companies—were compensated, resulting in the forced eviction, often on little or no notice—of thousands of families. Many lived under something similar to a sharecropping system under which they obtained rights to the land and homes in which they lived, farmed, and supported their families, often through fishing, between the sugarcane harvesting and planting seasons. Others were small landholders whose families had lived in Vieques since the time it was a refuge from the Spanish Conquest for the indigenous Tainos, and cimarrones—free Africans or escaped slaves. Because they never registered their holdings in the Registry of Deeds, they were neither notified of the proceedings by which the navy acquired their lands, nor compensated for them.

                              Many Viequenses recall being told the navy would leave when the war was over. But for the Viequenses, the war never ended. The navy acquired the eastern and western portions of Vieques to conduct ship-to-shore, air-to-ground, small arms, and other kinds of target practice, to practice amphibious landings, and to store weapons and ammunition in hundreds of bunkers. They also used it, in conjunction with weapons manufacturers and related industries, to test napalm, Agent Orange, and all sorts of conventional and unconventional weapons and ammunition. The navy also advertised Vieques as a site for “one stop shopping” for NATO allies that wanted to practice amphibious and land war simultaneously.

                              It was a formidable military presence that the civilian population of Vieques set out to challenge after the death of David Sanes. The most powerful weapon discovered by the people of Vieques is the practice of putting their bodies in the line of fire during target practice. Theoretically, as soon as the navy is aware of civilians on the firing range, it is “fouled,” and exercises must be suspended. Between April 21, 1999, and May 4, 2000, thousands of civilians overran the navy’s Camp García on the eastern end of Vieques, where David Sanes was killed. The December 2000 agreement between Governor Rosselló of Puerto Rico and President Clinton provided that the protesters would be removed, and Puerto Rico would cooperate in securing the range to permit resumption of the bombing. In the meantime, the people of Vieques would have the opportunity to vote on whether the navy should stay or leave. Two hundred people were removed from protest camps on May 4, 2000. Ten days later, civilians began showing up on the firing range again. As of December 2002, nearly 2000 people have participated in this human embrace of what Puerto Ricans call their “daughter island” (Isla Nena). I have had the honor of representing almost a hundred of them. Here are some of their stories.

                              Too Dangerous for Bail, Father Mauro Simpson

                              It was about 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. I broke a rule of survival and checked the office fax machine. A letter from a law office in South Dakota was inquiring about a seventy-seven-year-old Benedictine priest, who was being detained without bail in the federal jail near San Juan.

                              The letter was from one of his brothers, who had practiced law for the last forty years. He wanted to know what was going on. The offense the priest had been charged with was punishable by a maximum of six months in jail. He had not been tried. He was not young, and suffered from diabetes. Why was he in jail?

                              The facts were simple: Fr. Simpson had been arrested for stepping on some of the navy’s 26,000 acres in Vieques. He was one of scores of religious men and women arrested for civil disobedience in Vieques, consistent with the official policies of the major denominations, including the Diocese of Caguas, of which Vieques is a part. These policies, developed over decades of theological study and experience in Vieques, supported those who defied the law in obedience to the precept that “if you want peace, struggle for justice.” The diocese had actually set up a camp on navy lands to provide “spiritual accompaniment” to the protesters. Fr. Simpson had been part of that camp.

                              The priest was detained because he refused to promise the magistrate conducting his bail hearing that he would not return to protest again. The logic of the detention order defies paraphrase. The magistrate wrote:

                              [T]hose now training are to immediately engage in active service in the war against terrorism upon completing their training sessions. Thus, by interrupting or threatening to interrupt military maneuvers at a time in which our daily lives evolve at an extreme or heightened security level, given the continued threat posed by terrorists, by itself is an act that places the military readiness and the Nation’s security at risk while endangering the community’s safety.
                              This seventy-seven-year-old priest thus joined the ranks of those preventively detained as either targets of, or obstacles to, the war on terrorism whose freedom would “pose a danger to the community.” His brother wanted to know, “Do you have the same federal court in Puerto Rico that we have up here?”

                              There was only one truthful answer: yes, and no. Puerto Rico is a colony. In a colony, everything about the metropolis is scrupulously imitated, and nothing is the same.

                              Félix Montalvo, Homicide Detective, Guilty of Civil Disobedience

                              Accompanying Fr. Simpson in his deliberate law-breaking was Félix J. Montalvo, a much-decorated retired homicide detective from New York. The judge declined to glance at his framed awards, including a commendation from the Secret Service.

                              The judge showed no more interest in the motion to dismiss the charges in the interest of justice. The motion pointed out that if Mr. Montalvo is called to testify regarding cases he has investigated, his credibility could be compromised by a criminal conviction. This motion was denied. Fr. Simpson’s motion, based on his obedience to the official policy of his diocese, suffered the same summary fate, notwithstanding the presence of the bishop, eminent experts in theology and law, and the priest’s abbot.

                              At sentencing, Mr. Montalvo explained that the same things that made him a good cop compelled him to commit civil disobedience: respect for human life, the truth, and the law. Firing depleted uranium, as the navy admitted doing in Vieques, is not only dangerous, it is illegal. Fouling the seas by sinking the USS Killen, used to test the effects of nuclear bombs on navy warcraft, close to the shores of Vieques, puts human life in peril. From what is the navy protecting the people of Vieques?

                              Francisco Saldaña, Former partner of the Navy in its ‘Dirty Tricks’

                              Sixty-five-year-old municipal assemblyman and retired teacher Francisco Saldaña told his judge before being sentenced:

                              I have two children in the navy of which I feel extremely proud. And I also served in the military. But this pride is erased by the immense repudiation that I feel for the abuses the navy is committing in my land in Vieques.
                              I live in Esperanza, a small community of fishermen, where my father, my uncle, practically the entire family has lived from the sea as fishermen....I used to belong to a pro-navy group whose purpose was chaos and destruction....My specific mission was the destruction of the fisherman’s association in Esperanza, the focal point of the attempts to rescue the Vieques lands from the navy.
                              Several decades ago, Mr. Saldaña and his wife, Lucy, left the organization when they learned of plans to kill a leader of the anti-navy movement. As a result, he was briefly kidnapped; an apparent plan to kill him was foiled by his rescue. Thus, they lost their fear of sharing the treatment reserved for “Communists” and joined in organizing to let the world know about the navy’s abuses in Vieques.

                              Rather than apologize for trespassing, as the prosecutor argued he should, Mr. Saldaña accused the navy of trespass. First, the navy trespassed when it expropriated the lands, bulldozed people’s homes as they watched, and dumped entire families, with whatever possessions and domestic animals they could carry, into abandoned sugar cane fields where women gave birth, “during hurricane season.”

                              The second trespass, he added, is when the uranium, mercury, and other pollutants generated by the military “trespass into our bodies.” Suffering from multiple ailments traced to heavy metals in his body, Mr. Saldaña asked:

                              Who will sentence these people for trespassing into the civilian area?
                              Your Honor, Vieques is dying. Vieques is disintegrating. Vieques is disappearing. Please give us peace. Thank you.
                              “Please give us peace.” As if the federal court in a criminal proceeding could issue such a remedy! But such is the power it has exercised over the lives of people in Puerto Rico, and particularly Vieques, that it seemed a not unreasonable demand.

                              The prosecutor was ready with a reply: “what I see is a sense of entitlement...that one can...basically waltz in here, having violated the law, and express shock and outrage that one might have to receive consequences for one’s actions.”

                              A Celebrity Trial

                              “I can’t believe this is a United States federal court,” said Rep. John Conyers (then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) after observing the trial of a group of protesters that included Robert Kennedy, Jr. and union leader Dennis Rivera before the chief judge of the district of Puerto Rico. The judge was on his best behavior that day, having reserved most of the seats in the courtroom for the press and members of the Congressional Black Caucus who arrived to observe the trial. Kennedy was represented by Mario Cuomo, and former U.S. Attorney Benito Romano.

                              On trial with Kennedy and Rivera, was Myrta Sanes, the sister of David Sanes. Accompanying her on the tiny spit of land where the military police arrested them was former Puerto Rican secretary of state for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and then-member of the Puerto Rican Senate, Norma Burgos. Burgos had presided over the Special Commission on Vieques named immediately after Sanes’ death to investigate the impact of the navy exercises on Vieques and recommend official policy for the government of Puerto Rico. Its first and principle recommendation, adopted as policy, is best summarized, “Not one more bullet, not one more bomb.” She told the judge she was on an official senatorial mission when arrested. He didn’t buy it.

                              What Burgos learned as she presided over this commission ultimately led her to serve sixty days in jail with valor and grace, and, a year later, to vow to return if necessary.

                              Arrested with Sanes and Burgos were the two Viequenses responsible for guaranteeing their safety and security during their sixty-hour odyssey in the contaminated wilderness during the bombing exercises. Rafi Ayala, fifty-something, is one of Vieques’ most experienced commercial fishermen. He looks the part, and carried his workingman’s dignity with him into the chill marble halls of the federal court. He has been diagnosed with vibroacustic disease, a heart abnormality caused by the shock waves from the bombings transmitted through the water. A study conducted by a group of cardiologists revealed that a much higher proportion of the fishermen tested in Vieques showed symptoms of this condition than in Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, on the Caribbean coast. The women’s second guardian angel was a young Viequense whose three-year-old daughter suffered from asthma, skin disorders, and unexplained precancerous growths since birth. “But has she been diagnosed with cancer?” the judge wanted to know.

                              The Justification Defense: ‘Irrelevant....Move On.’

                              The trial of Burgos, Kennedy, the sister of a Viequense killed by the navy, a fisherman, and a parent of an afflicted child was an important test of the determination of the district court to refuse to address the defense known as justification, necessity, or choice of evils. In essence, the defense exonerates a person whose acts, while literally in violation of the law, are justified by the necessity of choosing between two imminent evils, and who has no lawful means of avoiding the greater.

                              Judges are fond of pointing out that defendants have other lawful alternatives for bringing about change, for example, through the courts, the legislative process, petitions, and demonstrations. What the courts cannot bring themselves to see is that their major premise, that Puerto Rico is part of a democratic political system, is contrary to fact. Puerto Ricans, with no legislators in Washington, and no say in who gets to be commander in chief of the nation that sets their foreign policy, can hardly be faulted for not confining themselves to writing letters and knocking on the doors of congressmen, 90 percent of whom do not even speak their language. Here the proof of having exhausted legal alternatives was particularly strong. On the witness stand, Burgos detailed her testimony before Congress as the designated representative of the government of Puerto Rico, and her letters to the secretary of the navy in her capacity as secretary of state and president of the Governor’s Special Commission on Vieques. She testified about the commission’s conclusions and recommendations, which led to Puerto Rico’s official policy of “not one more bullet, not one more bomb.”

                              When asked to describe the conclusions of the commission over which she had presided, Burgos replied, “One of the conclusions is that more than 9000 American citizens who reside in the Island Municipality of Vieques are being deprived of their life, liberty and the enjoyment of their property.” At which point, the navy prosecutor (a judge advocate general with the rank of lieutenant commander) objected, and the court ruled, “Irrelevant....Move on.”

                              “You cannot violate the law for the sake of your own belief or to advance a cause,” warned the judge in sentencing Senator Burgos to forty days in jail. When she asked him when he would judge the navy for its gross violation of the law, she was sentenced to twenty additional days for “becoming defiant.” “Marshal, please take over,” the judge ordered.

                              Robert Kennedy, Jr. ‘I thought the law could fix this.’

                              Kennedy’s defense fared no better. He sought to show that his incursion was justified as the only means available to prevent further damage to the environment and human health. Eight months earlier, as attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance and other environmental organizations, Kennedy had filed a civil suit asking for an emergency order prohibiting navy exercises. The exercises, he argued, were causing irreparable injury to the health and safety of the people of Vieques, and were in violation of a number of federal environmental laws.

                              The same judge about to convict him had, he suggested, failed to rule on his emergency motion to enjoin the bombing for an unreasonably long time. Before being sentenced, Kennedy told him what made him cross the line from environmental lawyer to conscientious lawbreaker. He loved the United States Navy and the law, he said. But he could not accept what the navy had done and was doing in Vieques.

                              He found Vieques in agony. Along with the highest rates of cancer, infant mortality, and overall mortality in all of Puerto Rico’s seventy-eight municipalities, its residents are dangerously contaminated with arsenic, cyanide, lead, mercury, antimony, uranium, and other toxins associated with the detonation of ordnance. These substances leach into the groundwater, and are carried by the prevailing easterly winds from the bombing range to the homes and schools, the seas where the fish are caught, the fruit trees, and the soil where tubers are grown.

                              But the worst devastation Kennedy saw in Vieques was the alienation and demoralization of a people whose rights were not respected. In Vieques, his talk of “adherence to democracy” and a “strong system of justice” was received with the skepticism of those who have lived in an abandoned corner of a colony all their lives. Their desperation, and his loss of confidence in the ability of the legal system to stop clear violations of environmental laws, carried the day. It was not until after two additional rounds of bombing over a period of eight months, during which his request for emergency relief languished on the desk of the stern judge before whom he now stood accused, that he decided to break the law. He told the court, “Under these circumstances, I felt for my conscience that I had an obligation to these people, who I have promised the system is going to work for, to do something that would at least share part of their suffering.”

                              He got thirty days in jail, as did Rivera and the two men from Vieques. Sanes was given six months probation.

                              As the numbers of protesters swelled—the Chief Judge cited 711 cases at the time of the Burgos-Sanes-Kennedy-Rivera trial—so did the sentences. Sixty days was no longer shocking. Four and six month sentences were meted out. Alberto de Jesús, known as “Tito Kayak” for his derring-do with a one-person vessel (who at one point inscribed “Navy Out! Vieques or Death!” on the side of a navy destroyer docked in San Juan for a “good will” visit), was given a year in jail (two consecutive maximum sentences) and exiled to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. He had been sent there for sentencing for stepping on Lady Liberty’s crown without first getting the permission of the National Park Service. He left his calling cards: a flag of Vieques, a flag of Puerto Rico, and a banner reading “Navy out of Vieques.” For that offense, the federal magistrate in New York sentenced him to time served and a fine collected from supporters in the courtroom.

                              The Senator’s Cellmate, Nationalist Heroine, Dona Lolita Lebrón

                              One of Senator Burgos’ cellmates during her sixty days in jail was Puerto Rican Nationalist Party heroine, dona Lolita Lebrón. In 1954, Lebrón led a Nationalist Party action to protest the imposition of Puerto Rico’s current legal status. From the visitors’ gallery of the U.S. Congress, she unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and cried “Viva Puerto Rico!” while firing shots at the chandelier. Five congressmen were wounded. She spent twenty-five years in jail, and was released as the result of an intense campaign for amnesty for the jailed Nationalists.

                              Now in her eighties, Lolita Lebrón has lost none of her incandescence. On June 1, 2000, she walked all night through pathless brambles across Vieques’ tiny mountain range, to participate in a religious ceremony. About thirty protesters, mostly women of Vieques, gathered at dawn on the beach where Puerto Rico’s first ecumenical chapel had stood until the navy tore it down when it took the range back from protesters on May 4, 2000. They were dressed in black and wore white crosses with the names of women from Vieques who had died of cancer, and consecrated the land in the name of their friends, in order to stop the cycle of death.

                              Released on her own recognizance, Lolita Lebrón gave precise instructions to her lawyer: the only thing she was authorized to do was challenge the jurisdiction of the United States District Court in Puerto Rico. The theory was first developed by the brilliant Harvard-educated lawyer and U.S. Army-trained father of Puerto Rican nationalism, don Pedro Albizu Campos. Albizu was the president of the Nationalist Party at the time of the attack on Congress, and Lebrón’s political, and perhaps also spiritual leader.

                              Impressed by the nationalism of Eamon de Valera and Mahatma Ghandi, Albizu Campos challenged his countrymen to throw off the yoke of submission and fight for their rights as a free and sovereign people. The legal theory he developed anticipated international law by almost half a century. As elaborated by Lebrón in her motion to dismiss the charges in federal court in 2001, it goes like this:

                              Presente! The Spirit of Pedro Albizu Campos

                              The fruit of an act of aggression—military invasion of a country not at war with the United States—the United States’ claim to sovereignty over Puerto Rico, and thus jurisdiction over Lebrón, was null and void. Albizu developed and tested the legal challenge to United States jurisdiction in the case of Luis F. Velázquez in 1936, decades before the United Nations would approve Resolution 1514 (XV) on the Right of Colonial Peoples and Nations to Self-Determination. Since then, that right, once a bold assertion erected over a solid theoretical foundation in the little-visited annals of international law, has become what is known as a “peremptory norm” of international law. A “peremptory norm” is universally binding, not on the basis of the number of nations that have signed a treaty, but because it has become so universally respected as to represent a consensus among all civilized nations about a fundamental proposition. All but a handful of the colonies that existed at the time Resolution 1514 was declared are now member states of the United Nations.

                              Lebrón’s motion was not expected to have any impact whatsoever on the district court, but her challenge was more radical than just filing the motion. Given her position that the court, as the representative of an invader and international outlaw, had no jurisdiction over her, she did not deign to appear for trial. Somewhat to her disappointment, the judge assigned to her trial declared that sending U.S. Marshals to arrest an eighty-year-old icon was “the last thing” he would do. He then began to describe a death-bed conversation with his father about Lolita Lebrón, a woman the father had met, and admired. She was sentenced to the time she had been detained prior to being released on her recognizance.

                              Undaunted, she returned to protest again. This time she was not released until she had served sixty days, during which she shared a tube of contraband lipstick with Senator Burgos.

                              An Overwhelming National Consensus

                              The arrests of the men and women of Vieques, many of whom were the sons and daughters of people whose lands had been expropriated by the navy, gave the lie to the navy’s assertions that the people of Vieques had no problem with the navy, and that the protests were the work of “outsiders,” and “left-wing” (i.e., pro-independence) organizations.

                              Not wanting to create a precedent for allowing communities to reject U.S. military presence, Congress postponed, and then cancelled the promised referendum on whether the navy should leave Vieques. Puerto Rico’s government held its own referendum, in which 68 percent of the voters said no, with voter participation close to 80 percent. Before the referendum, the navy had already handed out most of the $40 million in “community/economic development” funds allocated by Congress to—well, there is no other way to say it—buy the vote in Vieques. The navy promised that an additional $50 million would follow a yes vote.

                              The navy set up a community outreach office on this island where the median income is about $6,000 per year per person, and the mayor estimates the unemployment rate at 50 percent. It invited people to submit proposals for small business grants of up to $25,000. Most of those who were told their proposals qualified, but were rejected anyway, were known to want the navy out. The navy also began paying Vieques fishermen who signed up for compensation $100 per day for every day they were banned from the waters by the navy. Still, it could not muster a third of the vote.

                              The struggle for the demilitarization, decontamination, return of the lands, and sustainable development of Vieques is second only to hurricanes as the least sectarian phenomenon Puerto Rico has known, at least since the 1898 invasion. Not only has it united the people of Vieques and the people of the “large island” of Puerto Rico—separated by a ninety-minute-long ferry ride—but it has also ignored the legendary partisan political differences revolving around status options.

                              The Traditional Divisions: Independence, Statehood, or Something-In-Between

                              The three political parties each represent a status alternative: independence, statehood, and the present “free associated state” or “unincorporated territory” relationship. The “not one more bullet” policy was formulated by a pro-statehood governor, Pedro Rosselló.

                              Sila Calderón, the current pro-“free associated state” governor was elected largely because of Rosselló’s last-minute agreement to allow the navy to resume bombing, and her promise to get the navy out of Vieques within ninety days of taking office. Her inability to do so is emblematic of the distance between the rhetoric and reality of any theoretical autonomy allowed under the “free associated state.”

                              The leaders of the two parties that alternate governing the colony were both forced to assume their unusually strong positions by Puerto Rican Independence Party president, Rubén Berríos Martínez. He set up a civil disobedience camp within the navy’s high impact zone and lived there for over a year until arrested by U.S. Marshals when the United States ejected two hundred protesters and took back the bombing range for the navy. He returned twice more, and served two sentences, one of three months in jail.

                              Vieques is a case of parties and politicians following the lead of the people. David Sanes depended on the navy for his livelihood, but when he was killed—and three others terribly injured—by an errant bomb, Vieques erupted. Parents were not willing to risk losing another child for a paycheck. And Viequenses were tired of being told they must sacrifice their land, their safety, their health, and their tranquility to the national security of the United States.

                              Walking Towards an Uncertain Future in His Father’s Shoes

                              With the support of Franciscans International/Dominicans for Justice and Peace, I accompanied Carlos Ventura Meléndez the president of the Fishermen’s Association of the South of Vieques to the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, last March. He was a remarkably efficient and indefatigable diplomat, managing to have personal conversations with the representative of virtually every Latin and Central American nation attending the session. The only diplomat who refused to speak to us—on the grounds of lack of time—was the U.S. diplomat in attendance.

                              The most delicate appointment came on the last day, when we met with the Vatican nuncio for human rights. Carlos did most of the talking. At the end of the interview, the nuncio turned and, assuming the role of parish priest, asked, “Carlos, what do you see for your future?” Carlos explained,

                              I live in a barrio called Luján, but they have changed its name. Many people now called it “the barrio of death,” or “the barrio of cancer.” We seem to go from one funeral to another. Someone gets diagnosed with cancer one day, and the next thing you know, he’s dead. So many of my classmates have buried their children....Most parents, when they get to my age, in their forties, start thinking what their children’s future will be....Will they be doctors, or teachers, or fishermen, or whatever. But we donask that question. We just wonder whether our children will have a future.
                              The shoes Carlos was wearing that day had been his father’s. He promised his father, before he died, that he would walk in those shoes from one end of Vieques to the other, free of barbed wire fences and armed navy guards. Carlos and four members of his family have all paid their dues in jail for ignoring those fences in order to claim their right to live on lands used, as he says, “to teach killing, to sow death.” Geneva was just one more step toward fulfilling his promise to his father.

                              Postscript: As this issue goes to press the navy has just advised the governor of Puerto Rico that it has scheduled twenty-nine days of bombing to begin on January 13.—Ed.

                              All material © copyright 2003 Monthly Review

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