lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

viernes, 26 de junio de 2009

La tribu se une al Caño

En solidaridad con el Fideicomiso del Caño Martín Peña, pero sobre todo, con la lucha de los hermanos puertorriqueños de las ocho comunidades, este blog se une al resto de las voces virtuales, escritas, gritadas y cantadas que indignadas pero consecuentes, defienden los mecanismos alternativos --y más humanos-- de superación y apoderamiento.

La red de blogs solidarios la componen (si se me queda alguno me avisan y me disculpan):
Poder, espacio y ambiente
Cargas y descargas
Poder 5
Tinta digital
Sin mordazas

A continuación, la columna de la Prof. Fontánez (del blog Poder, espacio y ambiente) publicada hoy en El Nuevo Día:
26-Junio-2009

ÉRIKA FONTÁNEZ TORRES

Ya son propietarios

Las comunidades del Caño Martín Peña ya son dueñas de la tierra. Eso es lo que le incomoda a unos pocos con poder económico y político. Por eso, buscan quitarles su propiedad. Las comunidades que por décadas han recibido las falsas promesas y el embate de la grandilocuencia de los “títulos de propiedad”, ya no dependen de políticos. No necesitan que cada cuatrienio vayan a chantajearlos prometiéndoles “propiedad” mientras los perpetúan en la pobreza. Ya son dueños de la tierra, propietarios del Fideicomiso y como tal debe respetárseles.

A través de nuestra historia los políticos han hecho uso demagógico y prepotente de la retórica de “títulos de propiedad”. Prometiendo progreso mediante la entrega clientelista de títulos, no han logrado sino la perpetuación de condiciones de pobreza extrema, desplazamientos y expropiaciones para dar lugar a grandes desarrollos.

El abuso de los conceptos “título”, “dueño” y “propietario” enmarca gran parte de nuestra historia de desigualdades, pobreza y clientelismo político. Habría que terminar con la supuesta neutralidad de esos términos y apuntalar que hay diversos tipos de “propietarios”. Es hora de abordar con seriedad estos conceptos. La realidad es que ser “dueño” no significa lo mismo en todos los contextos y mucho menos en los de pobreza extrema. Es imperativo reconocer que estamos en una sociedad profundamente desigual que protege a los propietarios con poder económico y castiga a los propietarios pobres.

Mediante una falsa neutralidad se ha mantenido la apariencia de que un “título de propiedad” de una estructura precaria, sin alcantarillado sanitario y encima de agua contaminada, es igual que el título de propiedad de las residencias en zonas privilegiadas. No es lo mismo tener el “título” de una propiedad de $500,000 que ser “dueño” de un lotecito hacinado, irregular, sin infraestructura y con el riesgo de un poste de alto voltaje encima. Quienes prometen “justicia social” a través de supuestos títulos saben que otorgarlos en esas condiciones asegura el desplazamiento de ese “dueño” pobre cuando se enfrente a un futuro “dueño” con poder económico para desplazarlo y construir ahí un desarrollo en el que el primero no podrá entrar jamás.

Por eso, en el Caño escogieron ser otro tipo de “dueños”, una categoría de dueños con aún más poder: tienen un título sobre sus casas, el derecho a edificar y otro grupal sobre la tierra. Estudiaron el menú jurídico propietario en busca de un mecanismo que les garantizara “propiedad” pero con permanencia y garantía de que la suma de sus propiedades les permitirá revitalizar y aumentar el valor para todos. Seleccionaron de la gama de mecanismos jurídicos disponibles para maximizar su tierra y mejorar sus condiciones. Eso es el Fideicomiso de la Tierra.

Pero a unos pocos -acostumbrados a utilizar ese menú jurídico en sus negocios- les incomoda que sean los pobres quienes lo utilicen. Y es que los “fideicomisos”, “corporaciones”, “usufructos” y “derechos de superficie” son mecanismos jurídicos utilizados a diario por los señores corporativos para obtener grandes ganancias. Habría que preguntarse por qué ahora cuestionan a las comunidades del Caño que -para salir de la pobreza, revitalizar, dragar el Caño y tener vivienda decente- han utilizado el Fideicomiso para lograr lo que el Gobierno nunca les podrá garantizar.

Hay una doble vara en la retórica. Si la filosofía es que el “privado” es el “dueño” de Puerto Rico, aquí los privados son precisamente las comunidades del Caño. Si los fideicomisos y otros mecanismos jurídicos del mundo de los negocios son buenos para quienes cuentan con capital, ¿por qué no son buenos para la gente del Caño?.

El Fideicomiso de la Tierra hace a los residentes del Caño propietarios fuertes; tienen mucho más que un título individual vacío que perpetúa sus condiciones de injusticia. Tienen una herramienta jurídica que les da futuro y les hace verdaderos dueños.

¿Por qué quitársela?

jueves, 18 de junio de 2009

Puerto Rico "posesión colonial de EE.UU." según Newsweek

[Este artículo es, por el momento, una respuesta inmediata a la columna publicada por José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral en El Nuevo Día de hoy. También lean el anterior de Rodríguez Orellana.]

The Empire Burden

Why It's So Hard to Get Out of Iraq, Afghanistan or ... The Comoro Islands

Christopher Dickey
NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Jun 22, 2009
URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/201753
(énfasis de Comité Nueva York - PIP)

When George Orwell was a young man in the 1920s, he served as a British policeman in the colony of Burma. On duty there he saw, as he put it, "the dirty work of empire at close quarters." He deplored the "white man's" oppression of the "native people" in "the East." But what Orwell found most disconcerting was the trap his own country had fallen into. "When the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom that he destroys," Orwell wrote a few years later in his essay "Shooting an Elephant." "In every crisis he has got to do what the 'natives' expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it."

We may have moved beyond the paternalistic rhetoric of the early Orwell, but more recent jargon like "mission creep," coined during the Somalia debacle of the early 1990s, covers similar ground. In fact, the history of the past century should have proved conclusively that empires are traps, draining enormous resources and eventually enormous prestige from those who build them. Whether past imperialists saw their missions as conquerors and occupiers or liberators, peacekeepers and nation-builders, or all of the above, those Western countries that have claimed "a foothold in a foreign land," as the 19th-century naval strategist A. T. Mahan put it, have often found themselves serving interests that were no longer clearly their own.

The Obama administration is learning that lesson. It came to office a little more than four months ago committed to withdrawing from Iraq, and to stabilizing Afghanistan so it could get out of there, too. But we heard recently from U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey that plans have been drawn up in case American fighting forces have to remain in Iraq for another decade—and this despite a written agreement with Baghdad to pull all troops out by the end of 2011. Why? Not least because the Iraqis that the Americans helped put in power think they may need those forces to stay. Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi recently told a small group of reporters that he is "very concerned" about what will happen if the Americans leave. So, he suggested, the United States might well be asked to remain.

It's rare, in fact, that imperial powers decide on their own to give up any fragment of their foreign territories or influence. The British, for instance, "regarded long-term occupation as an inherent part of their 'civilizing mission'," the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson wrote in 2003. A self-described neo-imperialist, Ferguson supported the invasion of Iraq then taking place, but worried that the Americans wanted to get out too fast. "When the British intervened in a country like Iraq, they simply didn't have an exit strategy," Ferguson wrote. Their job would be done only when the country in question met their standards of civilization, the rule of law and free markets. "The only issue was whether to rule directly-—installing a British governor—or indirectly, with a British 'secretary' offering 'advice' to a local puppet," Ferguson noted. Presumably it was this latter case that some in the Bush administration envisioned for Iraq.

The question Orwell posed was about who really pulled the strings: the empire or its subjects. And there may come a time when neither side really knows. People in the colonies, territories and countries under tutelage reach a point where they cannot imagine how they would survive without the help of a faraway power—even if they resent its interference. And the erstwhile imperialists, once they've been forced out of their largest possessions, cannot imagine giving up even a small fraction more of territory or influence, no matter how much it costs them militarily, economically or politically.

As a result, vestiges of past empires can be found all over the globe. Back in 1982 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher launched a full-scale war to hold on to the windswept Falkland Islands, even though they are almost 13,000 kilometers away from England and only about 290 kilometers from the shores of Argentina. The little enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast remain parts of Spain and therefore of the European Union. So, would-be immigrants from deep in Africa regularly trek hundreds and even thousands of kilometers across the desert to try to storm the fences in hopes of asylum. Meanwhile, the United States itself continues to administer remnants of the imperial possessions it took in the Spanish--American War of 1898, including Guam, Puerto Rico and, yes, Cuba's Guantánamo Bay.

But it's the French who offer the most complicated and potentially the most instructive case study in past atrophy and future ambitions. The sun never sets on what Paris calls "the confetti of empire": from French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland. Indeed, France's longest land border is not with Germany or Spain, but, thanks to French Guiana, with Brazil. "It is all about extending our influence," a senior official at the French Foreign Ministry says bluntly, if privately.

But is it? Equitable treaties clearly make more sense if you can get them. In May French President Nicolas Sarkozy inaugurated a new French military base in Abu Dhabi. Similar in purpose if not in scale to American installations in Qatar and Bahrain, farther up the coast, it is touted as a demonstration of France's changing approach to force projection. Camp Peace, as it is called (in a touch Orwell himself might have appreciated), is meant to demonstrate that France is willing to defend Abu Dhabi and to send that signal to Iran, less than 300 kilometers away. But more than a show of force, it's a show window for big-ticket French weapons systems that Paris would like to sell in the region. Unlike other French bases overseas, there is no history of French claims to sovereignty. Abu Dhabi wants to diversify its reliance on foreign defense forces. And—what is certainly the biggest break with the past—Abu Dhabi is footing the bill.

Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean are more typical. They are considered part of France's national territory, like the states of the United States. Yet despite massive subsidies funded by French taxpayers, they have been the scene of so much unrest over the past few months that Sarkozy has postponed a planned visit several times. The islanders are not fighting for independence, mind you, just for better deals from Paris to compensate for the higher cost of living in these tiny markets that have grown dependent on imports from a distant mainland.

Altogether, France's overseas possessions add about 2.6 million people to its population and 120,000 square kilometers of land to its territory, and give France the third largest area of exclusive maritime rights in the world. They produce nickel ore and codfish, they provided testing areas for atomic weapons in the past and are the site of launching pads for space exploration to this day. Yet whatever the benefits, the responsibilities and costs are greater. "Through the 1980s and even into the 1990s, some of these arguments carried real weight," says Robert Aldrich, author of Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion. Now, however, they are mainly a drain on the French -budget, costing an estimated €16.7 billion per year. "In some ways," says Aldrich, "they are like old family jewels, perhaps not so valuable in monetary terms, though with a certain sentimental value."

Sentimental indeed. In the latter half of the 1980s, New Caledonia was on the verge of full-scale insurrection. Earlier this year the contagion of unrest spread quickly from Guadeloupe halfway around the world to the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Undeterred, Paris pushed ahead this spring to make Mayotte, a tiny island between Madagascar and Mozambique, the 101st département of the French Republic. The residents will be taxed, and receive welfare benefits—mainly the latter—just like on the mainland. They will be fully represented in the French Parliament and will be able to vote in all elections, including the European ones, because they will be considered Europeans, too. And eventually they will have to observe all of France's and Europe's laws and regulations.

The ostensible reason Paris took this decision is because that's what the people of Mayotte want. When the whole of the Comoros archipelago voted on its future in 1974, the other islands went for independence. Mayotte went for … dependence. And in the referendum this March, the people voted overwhelmingly for even closer ties. In a wondrous bit of rhetorical excess, French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said the whole show was "reaffirming the values that forge, today as yesterday, the unity of our Republic and our everlasting democracy."

Clearly the old "mission to civilize" endures, however culturally anomalous the results might be. Of the roughly 180,000 Mahorais, almost all are Muslims, and polygamy is widespread. But polygamy will now be against the law on Ma-yotte as it is in France. The problem of illegal immigration from the other Comoros islands to Mayotte, meanwhile, is enormous. Roughly a third of the population is considered, as the French say, clandestin. Many are pregnant women who risk their lives so their children will be born "in France" and be eligible for citizenship. The overall birthrate is such that in the next 15 years the population could reach 300,000. Already the maternity ward of the main hospital in Mayotte is France's busiest, with 20 babies born a day. Employment prospects for the kids as they grow up are slim. Of the 4,000 who enter the job market each year, only 1,000 find work. And then there's the position of the Islamic Republic of Comoros, which rules the other islands. It may be one of the most unstable governments in the world, but it claims that -Mayotte is still part of its territory, and so does the United Nations.

Indeed, attempts by the French to explain why France wants Mayotte verge on the surreal. Left-wing critics charge, with no apparent sense of irony, that the French mainland wants to exploit Mayotte for its vanilla beans and the aromatic oil of the ylang-ylang tree. If the real motive to hold on were its strategic naval value at the head of the crowded Mozambique Channel, then it's surprising a French base planned for Mayotte in the 1970s has never been built.

In fact, what made global strategic sense for Admiral Mahan in the 19th century, when he advised grabbing footholds in foreign lands, is not so logical today. In a world of missiles, nukes and Internet-inspired terrorists with box cutters, the projection of political influence is at least as important as the projection of force. The idea of empire is no longer plausible, the reality of it no longer credible. The problem is not just that old imperialists had no exit strategy, it's that in some places, there's no exit to be found.

With Tracy McNicoll in Paris

lunes, 15 de junio de 2009

Millions of People Around the World Are Not U.S. Citizens

By:  Manuel Rodríguez Orellana
Secretary for North American Relations
Puerto Rican Independence Party
Statement presented at a Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida Seminar held at Nova Southeastern University Law School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Saturday, June 13, 2009

I have decided to resist the temptation to indulge in entertaining—but useless—debating jabs as to who is more, or less colonialist; or go into interesting but ultimately peripheral explanations of why a political party or movement would get more, or fewer votes in one electoral event or another.


 I have also decided not to lecture on the economic feasibility of independence. As I assume we would all agree, Puerto Ricans are inferior to no one. Since many nations, smaller than Puerto Rico are doing better without federal funds or U.S. citizenship, while many of the more powerful or wealthy nations are currently in deep financial trouble, the economics of an independent Puerto Rico are collateral matters of public policy or fiscal administration, not a core issue of status politics. Therefore, I have decided to talk about the essence of Puerto Rico’s status problem: a nation’s inalienable right to self determination denied.  


            We are discussing a Latin American nation of the Caribbean which does not command itself. It is ruled in all essential aspects by another nation’s legal and constitutional system. Since Puerto Rico is parte de la bola del mundo, “part of the globe,” as Puerto Rican patriot José De Diego used to say, I have chosen to frame the issue in a wider context than the title of this seminar, Millions of U.S. Citizens Are Not Equal in the Eyes of the Law. My remarks here therefore focus on the fact that, Millions of People Around the World are not U.S. Citizens. The formal title of this seminar posits a domestic civil rights problem for Americans. Therefore, my remarks here, today, will focus on an international legal conflict: colonialism. 

*          *          * 

            In a thought-provoking article recently published in Puerto Rico,[1] this Seminar’s Chair sought to compare “the current U.S. citizenship of Puerto Ricans and the legal status of Puerto Rico with the Roman citizenship and legal status provided to some city-states incorporated into the Roman Republic in the late republican period,”[2] namely civitas sine suffragio; that is, citizenship without full political rights. He points out that, after a period of this “standard Romanization policy for incorporating conquered regions while building the Roman Republic,”[3] by 133 B.C. “nearly all”[4] Roman provinces had been fully enfranchised by the formal grant of ius suffragi.  

            

     “Nearly all;” but not all!  Certainly not Palestine, where a young man was executed by crucifixion, a terrible punishment given to slaves, robbers and members of subject peoples! The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth in Palestine was administered by Pontius Pilate, the agent-in-charge, if you will, of the chief law enforcement agency—the Roman guards of the EBI (the Empire Bureau of Investigations, if you will)—of the Republic-turned-Empire under Julius Caesar’s adoptive son, Augustus, the first to use the title “Emperor” in 31 B.C. 

            

      This goes to show that what passes as a republic can develop the bad habit of behaving like an empire! 


*          *          * 


There were other models, to be sure, that the Romans (or the Chair of this Seminar) could have followed. It was beyond the imagination of the Romans, however, to see the world in any other fashion. They would never, for instance, have done what Alexander the Great had done: turn the lands they controlled into a single, vast empire in which everyone was treated equally. As a renowned historian has pointed out, Roman conquerors “looked down on native inhabitants,” as the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Insular Cases in those times might have shown, “even when they were … all peoples of very ancient culture,” like Phoenicians, Jews, and Greeks.[5] The way the Supreme Court viewed the descendants of those cultures—Spaniards, Portuguese, Basques or Catalonians—in the Iberian Peninsula; and the sub-conscious way dominant circles in American society have come to lump nationalities as diverse as Brazilian, Chilean, Guatemalan, Haitian, Mexican, Peruvian, or Puerto Ricans, imposing the basket-term of Hispanics or Latinos, to include all Latin Americans of Iberian ancestry. 

            

Assuming there has been progress since Roman times, there are certainly other juridical and political models. The United States of America’s constitutional model is only one of them, and only part of the cultural richness of diversity in the world today. Its origins stem from the 1776 American Declaration of Independence that inspired anti colonialist struggles in the Americas against European empires. The progress since then is undoubtedly reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.  

            

The UDHR, imbued as it was with the principles established in the U.N. Charter, set the stage for the explicit incorporation of self determination as a basic human right. In 1960, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 1514, which has become the Magna Carta of self determination and independence as a legal right. It establishes, among other things, that “Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness”—traditional arguments of those who have denied Puerto Rico its rightful self determination—“should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.”[6] In 1966, self determination became article number 1 in both the Civil and Political Rights, as well as in the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Covenants. In 1975, the International Court of Justice ruled that Resolution 1514 constituted an authoritative interpretation and the legal basis for a decolonization process.[7] Through treatises and further writings of publicists and well-known scholars of International Law, the right to decolonization and self determination has come to be recognized as a basic human right with no expiration date—part of what is known as the ius cogens.[8]   

            

After this broad-brush review of how self determination became a peremptory norm on International Law, let’s go back to Rome. In a recent seminar held in Rome last year,[9] the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Hon. Thomas A. Shannon paid homage to Latin America’s legacy in human rights, the “vanguard role … Latin America continues to play … in understanding human rights and incorporating human rights into the behavior of states.”[10] He underscored that, among the ways that Latin America has helped consolidate contemporary human rights thinking is by overcoming “historic or traditional divisions … between political and civil rights on one hand and economic, cultural and social rights on the other hand.”[11] On the basis of this linkage, he went on to say that: 


Latin America has helped to create a new dynamic between diplomacy and development, between political activity and development, and has also helped us [meaning the United States] redefine certain aspects of our diplomatic exchange, especially in the area of security. And finally …, Latin America has helped at least the Western Hemisphere, at least the Americas, open a new space for dialogue among and between nations and has really marked the emergence of peoples as the principal political actors in the Americas.[12] 


These are interesting words, enounced in interesting times, by the official spokesman of the U.S. State Department for Western Hemisphere Affairs under the Bush administration—who has continued to serve in that capacity under the Obama administration.  The Assistant Secretary accompanied the Hon. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, to the inauguration of the recently elected president of El Salvador, following the electoral victory of the FMLN, the former guerrilla movement that fought against the bloody right wing dictatorships propped up for decades by the U.S. State Department. 


            Only two years earlier, 33 political parties representing a wide ideological spectrum—many of them government parties or allies of the United States—from 22 different Latin American nations (including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Cuba) met in Panama City, among other things: 


To reiterate to the World our solidarity and support for the cause of Puerto Rico’s independence, an historic and principled claim of our America. Latin America and the Caribbean will not be truly independent until all its nations are.[13] 


And: 


To offer to both the Puerto Rican nation as well as the Government of the United States, our cooperation and good offices, including the role of interlocutors and the tasks to lay the groundwork that may be necessary at the several levels of the Government of the United States, leading to a Hemispheric dialogue to resolve Puerto Rico’s colonial problem.[14] 


Undoubtedly, there is a new, more assertive, Latin America emerging in the 21st century. Through similar pronouncements, like that of Panama, Western Hemisphere nations south of the Río Bravo have, over the last quarter-century, increasingly reiterated that Puerto Rico is a member of the Latin American family and should return to the fold. In the words of Martín Torrijos, the President of Panama, speaking at the congress co-sponsored by his ruling party: 


The point is that for a century, our aspirations regarding Puerto Rico’s independence have been part of a moral and cultural indebtedness dating back to Simón Bolívar and José Martí, but … this issue, like many others, became cloaked in Cold War rhetoric.  

That rhetoric entangled the Puerto Rican question … and has left it unresolved before us in the 21st century when no form of colonialism can be justified.…

 And the basic problem is that Puerto Rico is the only Hispanic American nation that remains under a colonial regime. For Latin Americans, forever correcting this anomaly must be a matter of principle and a priority of continental proportions. What remains is to agree on whatever is necessary to consolidate the Puerto Rican right to constitute an independent republic.[15]


The days are over when U.S. Marines could invade any Latin American country to topple a government Washington did not like; and the days are over when rest of the region could be expected to silently acquiesce. Quite the contrary! Now the U.S. government will have to develop new and different policies in its relations with Latin America. A Latin America that, to quote Assistant Secretary Shannon once more, has “really presented to the world an important model, a model that needs to be understood and examined, but more importantly, a model that needs to be supported.”[16] A Latin America of hundreds of millions who are not U.S. citizens! 


            So, there it is! The word is out and the line has been drawn. Puerto Rico’s subordinate status is not a matter of civil rights. It is a matter of human rights. Puerto Rico’s colonial status must end, to end colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. Certainly the United States must be a party to this process. So must Latin America.  


            And the votes will follow. 

 



[1] Francisco A. Rullán, Puerto Rico Toward Statehood, in 1 Ley & foro 22 (Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico 2009).

 

[2] Id.

 

[3] Id.

 

[4] Id.


[5] E.H. Gombrich, A Little History of the World (Yale University Press 2008), p. 83.


[6] G.A. Res. 1514, U.N. GAOR, 15th Sess., Supp. No. 16, at 67, U.N. Doc. A/4684 (1960).

 

[7] Western Sahara, 1975 I.C.J. 12 (Oct. 16).

 

[8] See Oppenheim’s International Law 7-8 (R.Y. Jennings and A. Watts eds., 9th ed. 1992); Ian Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law 515 (3d ed. 1979); Roger S. Clark, Free Association—A Critical View, in Proceedings: Conference on the Future Political Status of the United States Virgin Islands (1989); Mark W. Janis, An Introduction to International Law 54 (1988); inter alia.

 

[9] U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Latin America and the International Human Rights Project: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (May 2, 2008), hereinafter, Latin America and the International Human Rights Project.

 

[10] Thomas A. Shannon, Remarks as Delivered, at Latin America and the International Human Rights Project, supra, at 87, hereinafter,Remarks.

 

[11] Id.

 

[12] Id., at 87-88.

 

[13] Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Rico’s Independence, Proclamation (Panama City, Panama, November 19, 2006). The Proclamation was unanimously approved.

 

[14] Id.


[15] Martín Torrijos, Keynote Address, Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Rico’s Independence, supra.


[16] Remarks, supra, at 92.

La tribu errante