The Reparation for Puerto Rico is EQUALITY!
By Franklin D. López
Journalist, Writer, Entrepreneur & Political Prisoner
The light that ignited the fire for war against Spain was supplied by newspaper owners William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. On February 15, 1898 the U.S. war ship The Maine was blown up under self inflicted circumstances. The disaster gave the yellow ink that coined the phrase “Remember The Main..to Hell with Spain!” In May 1898 Lt. Henry H. Whitney returned to Washington , D.C. after a reconnaissance mission, sponsored by the Army’s Bureau of Military Intelligence. The United States began it’s offensive on May 2, 1898 when 12 U.S. ships commanded by Real Admiral William T. Sampson attacked San Juan. Shortly thereafter the land offensive began when General Nelson A. Miles disembarked 1,300 infantry soldiers off the coast of Guánica.
It was a short war that ended with the signing of the Versailles Treaty on December 10,1898. The treaty gave the United States Congress absolute control of the new territories. After 2 years of military governors Puerto Rico was given civilian control of the governments with the Foraker Act and in1917 the Jones Act granted American citizenship. During the first 25years the United States Supreme Court issued a series of opinions in the so called Insular Cases in which the citizens living in Puerto Rico were labelled “aliens” “not fit for the Anglo-Saxon culture” and through judicial fiat legalized segregation and discrimination. Francis Torres writing for the Brown University Political review said: “The recent memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction led some to believe that the relationship between Americans and the peoples of these new territories would be based upon the newly established concept of political equality between racial groups on the mainland. However, these notions were thrown out the window in the wake of popular social Darwinism and the nationalistic mythos of Manifest Destiny. Under this ideological framework, American views of their new subject populations leaned towards the paternalistic and racist.”
In 1946 American citizens living in the territory were granted the right to elect their governor. In 1952 a territorial Constitution was enacted and approved by the U.S. Congress. The territorial constitution was packaged and labeled “the free associated state” of Puerto Rico. It was all a deceitful initiative by the Washington government to derail the tide of colonies demanding independence through out the colonial world. Besides, at that time Puerto Rico was a strategic military location for the United States during the Cold War with multiple air force and naval facilities in the archipelago.
The Dictionary Thesaurus defines Reparation in the following manner: 1) the making of amends for wrong or injury done: reparation for an injustice. 2.Usually, reparations. compensation in money, material, labor, etc., payable by a defeated country to another country or to an individual for loss suffered during or as a result of war.
The UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law assert that victims of such abuses have a right to International Humanitarian Law assert tha2t victims of such abuses have a right to prompt, adequate and effective reparation.2 This is held to include, in some combination prompt, adequate and effective reparation. This is held to include,in some combination and as appropriate, restitution, compensation for harm, and rehabilitation in mind, body and as appropriate, restitution, compensation for harm, and rehabilitation in mind, body and status. Measures to satisfy victims, such as revealing the truth, holding perpetrators and status. Measures to satisfy victims, such as revealing the truth, holding perpetrators accountable, and ceasing ongoing violations are also steps that can have a reparative accountable, and ceasing ongoing violations are also steps that can have a reparative effect. Likewise, steps to prevent non-recurrence should accompany reparations, as this effect. Likewise, steps to prevent non-recurrence should accompany reparations, as this offers reassurance to victims that reparation is not an empty promise or a temporary stop- offers reassurance to victims that reparation is not an empty promise or a temporary stop- gap. (Source: International Center for Transitional Justice).
Since the United States Government took control of the Puerto Rican Archipelago , by an act of war, it’s population have been subjected to the following;
1-Taxation without representation. Puerto Rico pays more Federal taxes than 6 states of the Union. Puerto Rico pays more Federal taxes than Alaska, Vermont, Montana, Maine, North Dakota and Wyoming. Despite this fact that American citizens paid 100% of the Social Security taxes they are discriminated by Congress denying the application of certain benefits given to Americans abroad. Congress has extended 100% applicability of all Social Security benefits to Americans abroad and to those retired in independent republics like Costa Rica. Taxation without representation?
2- The United States Congress has absolute control of what, how, when and who receives Federal programs in the territory, applying those laws with discriminatory, segregation and apartheid policies.
3- American citizens residing in the territory were used as guinea pigs to test vaccines and diseases treatments. During the 1930s the Rockefeller Foundation funded a program under the management of U.S. Army Colonel Cornelius P. Rhoads, an oncologist and pathologist. He experimented with Puerto Ricans, using cancerous cells to find “a cure” for this deadly disease. He wrote a letter to a colleague of his in Boston by the name Fred W. Stewart and this is what he said about Puerto Ricans: “They are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere. It makes you sick to inhabit the same island with them. They are even lower than Italians.”
4- American citizens serving in the U.S. Armed Forces were segregated in the same manner African Americans were. They were also discriminated in promotions within the ranks of the armed forces. More than 275,000 have served fighting for democracy and freedom that are denied to them in the territory.
5-Federal court system and law enforcement agencies are been used to persecute enemies of the colonial regime with the sole objective of maintaining the status quo, derailing any quest for political equality and neutralizing it. Some political prisoners were subjected to radiation experiments and some were denied medication and treatment and subjected to incarceration in the “special housing unit”, the hole!
6-American citizens residing in the territory are forced to use American ships for importation and exportation of goods and services.
7-Since 1952 the United States have adopted the disgraceful policy that Puerto Rico “solved” it’s political status with the adoption of the territorial constitution (Law 600) approved by the U.S. Congress. This policy denied American citizens the right for a self determination process guaranteed by United Nations Resolution 1541-XV. This policy has denied the American citizens of a colonial territory the basic human right of self determination.
8- Since 1898 the Archipelago of Puerto Rico was used to built and install multiple military bases and two islands municipalities were subjected for decades of live ammunitions from air and naval military practices.
9- The colonial territory is mandated by Congress to use United States merchant ships imposing a transportation tax costing hundreds of millions in consumer goods.
10) The U.S.Treasury Secretary, The White House and the U.S. Congress, assuming a “Pontius Pilate” policy is abandoning its 3.6 millions American citizens to their fate in the most extraordinary economic collapse of the territory’s modern history. This disgraceful policy is dismembering the social fabric of families that are forced to emigrate to the United States in search of the “American dream.” This policy is fueling massive population exodus collapsing the economic structure. Today 5 millions American citizens live in the 50 states of the Union and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 2.3 millions, the same population the archipelago had in 1952, will be attained in 2050.
American citizens, under International Law are entitle for reparation. But the reparation we seek is not monetary. We seek equality as a reparation. The People spoke on November 6, 2012 and rejected the colonial regime with 54% of the vote and vote for political equality (statehood) with 61% of the vote. If the United States continues with its policy of ignoring the basic human rights of American citizens living in the territory the findings of two Gallup polls in 1990 and 1991 will become a reality. People were asked what would they do if Puerto Rico becomes a republic or and independent Republic: 92% responded they will move to the United States. The Admission Act has been introduced by Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi in Congress. The reparation for American citizens in Puerto Rico is approving it and granting EQUALITY. The International Community is watching!