Editor’s note: This post is composed of information from the Puerto Rico Tribunal Facebook Page, from information circulated by the Black Alliance for Peace, and from posts on The International Action Center ( IAC) website (prologue) and Popular Resistance Newsletter (followup).
The following is a summary of the indictment prepared by Agusto Zamora for the International Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico.:
1. Puerto Rico, a supposed ‘Free Associated State’ under the constitution of 1952, continues to be a colony of the United States. The United States maintains Puerto Rico under colonial domain, with the subterfuge of a ‘Free Associated State,’ an entity of colonialist origin, with which the United States flagrantly violates the world legal order, which constitutes a crime against Puerto Rico.
2. The ‘Constitution’ of Puerto Rico, proposed in 1952 and approved by the U.S. Congress in 1953, predates by 8 years the decolonization process promoted by the United Nations. In 1952, Puerto Rico was occupied by U.S. forces, and this its people’s choices regarding the referendum were not free. In addition, the constitution of a sovereign nation (according to the UN) should never be subject to the approval and scrutiny of the colonial power, as it was here.
3. By submitting the case of Puerto Rico to the General Assembly of the United Nations, the United States was accepting, on the one hand, that Puerto Rico was a colonial nation and , that the United Nations had jurisdiction over Puerto Rico because it was the country imposing colonial rule.
4. The deprivation of that inalienable right to a lawful and reliable exercise (of self determination) under the supervision of the United Nations bears full witness that the regime in Puerto Rico is a blatantly colonial regime, and the U.S. uses this regime to keep Puerto Rico under U.S. colonial domination. Maintaining Puerto Rico as a colony is a violation of the world legal order and it constitutes a crime against the people of Puerto Rico, as such it should be Denounced.
5. By approving and enforcing the so-called Promesa Law, the United States has acted as a colonial power over The Territory of Puerto Rico, violating even the null and void process of 1952. With that law, the United States has returned Puerto Rico to the situation it had in 1898, violating the substantive rights of the Puerto Rican people, such as their right to freedom, self-determination and the right to their natural wealth and resources. The U.S. commits a crime against the people of Puerto Rico by usurping their freedom, denying their self-determination, and violating the sacred right of the Puerto Rican people to their natural wealth and resources. Full text of the Indictment.
International Human Rights, Anti-Colonial, & Social Movement Leaders Participate in People’s Tribunal on US Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico
New York, NY – Internationally recognized human rights activists and social movement leaders participated in the Emergency International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico. The Tribunal was convened on Saturday, October 27, beginning at 9 am in New York City.
Emergency International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes Against Puerto Rico
The charges against the United States were leveled by prosecutor Dr. Augusto Zamora, an international lawyer from Nicaragua. He took a case on U.S. violations of Nicaraguan sovereignty to the International Court and won a judgment against the U.S.
Testimony was offered in person and via recorded video messages by leading figures in the Puerto Rico independence movement and other social struggles including:
- Rafael Cancel Miranda
- Oscar Lopez Rivera
- Wilma Reveron
- Heriberto Marin
Additionally, delegations from Puerto Rico will be attending the Tribunal to share their experiences from the frontlines of struggle there, including:
- Eva Ayala, a teacher from the union EDUCAMOS, is speaking on the fight for public education.
- Mariana Nogales, the lawyer for Nina Droz, will speak on her case. Droz is a young person arrested on May Day 2017, accused of attempting to set fire to the concrete Banco Popular building with a match. It’s a ridiculous charge, but she is in a U.S. federal prison as an example to intimidate the resistance in Puerto Rico.
- Also testifying about repression are #SeAcabaronLasPromesas activists in the forefront of opposing the Fiscal Control Board.
- The government has made it a crime to resist, to fight back against imperialism and colonialism. Nina Droz’s case is an example of the many Puerto Rican political prisoners jailed or killed for struggling for independence. The United States fought for independence, but this has been denied to us in Puerto Rico.
- Representatives from several cities in the south of the island, like Guayama and Peñuelas, will testify on coal ash and the role of AES in environmental contamination now impacting 14 municipalities throughout the region. Salvador Tió will testify about the pollution of bioengineering companies, like notorious Monsanto.
- Ismael Guadalupe, a leader of the Vieques struggle, will testify on the consequences of the U.S. bombing of Vieques and illnesses that resulted. Carlos Zenón, whose family was the first to be evicted to build the U.S. military base in Vieques, will testify by video.
- Researcher Ana María Garcia, producer of a very well-known documentary on the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women, “La Operación,” will also testify by video.
- Delegations will also be in attendance from across New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and more.
Throughout the day, as testimony is offered on the crimes of 120 years of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico, it will be heard by a panel of jurors comprised of international human rights and justice fighters, including:
- Rev. Luis Barrios – Lead Juror; a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and pastor of Holyrood Church/Iglesia Santa Cruz, which is the Tribunal venue and provides a sanctuary and organizing center for many New York communities
- Luz de las Nieves Ayress Moreno – a Chilean woman political exile who was tortured by the Pinochet dictatorship, the U.S. installed Chilean dictator, and later testified in the prosecution against him
- Susan Abulhawa – a Palestinian novelist and humanitarian. Author of ‘Mornings in Jenin,’ she is one of the most commercially successful Arab authors of all time. Abulhawa was born to Palestinian refugees of the 1967 war when Israel captured what remained of Palestine, including her birthright city Jerusalem
- Jaribu Hill – an international human rights spokesperson, attorney, veteran community organizer and cultural artist. She is the Founder of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights and the Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference (SHROC) and a former Director of Center for Constitutional Rights – CCR South
- Gerardo Cajamarca Alarcón – a Colombian union organizer now in exile after death threats
- Deirdre Griswold – editor of Workers World newspaper, author of “Indonesia: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century,” chair of the 1966 Public Inquest on the Indonesian massacres, and an organizer of the 1967 Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal on the U.S. role in Vietnam
- Hyun Lee – a writer for ZoominKorea, an online resource for critical news and analysis on peace and democracy in Korea. She is an anti-war activist and organizer who has traveled to both North and South Korea
- Mahtowin Munro – co-leader of United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and lead organizer for statewide efforts in Massachusetts to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. Mahtowin is also the co-president of the ACLUM bargaining unit of UAW Local 2320 NOLSW
- Angélica Lara – a cofounder of Ayotzinapa Student Front/ Frente Estudiantil Ayotzinapa NYC that was instrumental in organizing the 2015 Caravana 43 in support of the students disappeared by the Mexican state in 2014. She continues to organize and work on many community issues such as housing and womyn’s rights
- Chrisley Carpio – a national leader of the new Students for a Democratic Society (National). She has mobilized students against Trump’s attacks on immigrants, the repeal of DACA, the Muslim ban, the inductions of Kavanaugh and Betsy DeVos, and against U.S. wars
- Pam Africa – Minister of Confrontation for the The MOVE Organization in Philadelphia. She is a leader the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners
- Andre Francois – president of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union – United Steelworkers Local 8751, and a leader in the local Haitian community
- Noriko Oyama – fighter for peace, demilitarization, and justice for Okinawa. Founder of Okinawa Peace Appeal
- Bernadette Ellorin – a national leader of the Filipino organization BAYAN USA, which is battling U.S. domination in the Philippines
- Ajamu Baraka – from Black Alliance for Peace and an internationally recognized leader of the U.S. human rights movement who has worked to apply the international human rights framework to social justice advocacy in the U.S.