Puerto Rico: Repression Against the Independentist Movement Intensifies

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / April 25, 2016

Three fighters for the cause of the independence of Puerto Rico were subjected to DNA tests by the justice. Juan Segarra Palmer, Orlando González Claudio and Norberto Cintrón Fiallo were ordered by federal judge José A. Fusté to have their DNA tested.

The spokesman of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Carlos Osorio, simply informed that the case is not under the responsibility of said agency, but of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and that the FBI is merely supporting them. Upon contacting the NCIS, a spokesperson replied that the entity does neither confirm nor deny that an investigation is underway.

The newspaper El Nuevo Día obtained a copy of the search order issued by judge Fuste against Cintrón Fiallo, which he received last April 18.

The search order reads: “I consider that any denounce or testimony establishes probable cause to seek and confiscate a person or property and that the search will include taking samples through a buccal swab. (…) Law enforcement officers are authorized to use every reasonable effort and/or force to secure those samples if the person refuses to comply”. It doesn’t specify whether this procedure is justified by an ongoing investigation nor does it inform the reason for it.

3d635c2c-b43c-4449-b2c7-b867dabd94a7Wilma Reverón, of the Hostosian National Independence Movement (MINH), informed that the three independentists that have been recipients of that order are discussing the matter with lawyers.

“These orders are being promoted by the FBI. They purposely enforce the order when they know that the subjects are completely alone, and don’t allow them to call friends nor lawyers. They tell them that the order says they are allowed to use force to submit them to the test, and that, if they refuse, they will sedate them and take it anyway”, Reverón said, citing what Segarra Palmer informed her.

“The MINH denounces that this is the beginning of a wave of repression against the independentist movement because of its militancy against the imperialist plans of imposing a federal fiscal control board, against acknowledging any sort of control by a foreign power on our nation and our calling to civil disobedience, resistance and non-collaboration with the foreign US power”, Reverón added.

The former President of the Bar Association and currently spokesman of the Human Rights Committee, Eduardo Villanueva Muñoz, said that once the tests are conducted in the Río Piedras Medical Center, the detainees will be free again. “I hesitate in saying ‘free’”, he added. “Instead, I should say that the state has laid eyes on him. That’s what this action means”, said Villanueva, referring mainly to the case of González Claudio.

“We are deeply concerned that these may be actions to try to instill fear and dissuade the people of Puerto Rico, not only the independentist movement, because there are many sectors that are speaking of organizing the resistance against the federal fiscal control board, which is a dictatorship legitimized by US law, not by the Puerto Rican people”, said Villanueva Muñoz.

He pointed out that “fundamental rights, such as the rights to free association and expression are violated whenever the state uses its power to intimidate people by searching them and taking samples of them without any kind of accusation against them”.

Who is who

Segarra Palmer was imprisoned in the past under charges of conspiracy and transportation of money and weapons related to the case of expropriation to the transport company Wells Fargo in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1983.

González Claudio is a former political prisoner for the same case, along with his two brothers, Avelino and Norberto, and other members of the Boricua People’s Army, better known as The Macheteros, notorious for stealing $7 million to the Wells Fargo. He was arrested in August 1985 and sentenced to five years in prison.

Cintrón Fiallo was intervened in February 2006 by federal authorities for alleged links to the Macheteros.

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