Reiteration of policy of non-collaboration with Grand Jury
Claridad en la Nación
Cándida Cotto / Claridad
May 22-28, 2008
Claridad, El Periódico de la Nación Puertorriqueña - Reiteran política de no colaboración con Gran Jurado
Non-collaboration and solidarity on the part of the independence movement should be the response to U.S. government Grand Jury subpoenas of independentistas. As happened in past decades, the independence movement should overcome its differences to support militants who are subpoenaed to a Grand Jury (GJ) and denounce the political nature of this persecution.
This was the consensus arrived at in the forum against repression sponsored by the organization Solidarity Table, which took place last Thursday, May 15, at the UTIER building in Miramar. Participants included attorney Luis F. Abreu Elías, activist Federico Cintrón Fiallo and Tania Frontera, who was subpoenaed to a GJ last December 27, 2007 in New York City.
The FBI also subpoenaed in December two other young Puerto Rican residents of New York: social worker Christopher Torres, who has visited the Island only once in his life, and Julio Pabón, who works as a filmmaker.
The most recent subpoena was served last Tuesday, May 13, when the young attorney and educator Elliot Monteverde Torres, who resides in the state of Texas. Monteverde, was subpoenaed to appear in Court in New York this Friday, May 23. The GJ subpoenas go along with other recent acts of harassment by the FBI, such as interventions with Miguel Viqueira and attorney Tania Delgado Soto, just this past April 16. Viqueira, who is a member of The New School, was intercepted by armed FBI agents at 7:00 in the morning when he left his house to go to work. Delgado Soto was harassed at 8:00 in the morning when she left her home in Floral Park in Río Piedras.
Attorney Abreu, recognized for his abilities and long experience defending independentistas in U.S. courts, described that at present, northamerican treatise writers are conscious that the GJ has become a political instrument of the U.S. government. He ventured to say that one of these days, the U.S. government could “come with accusations of terrorism” against the independence movement. He said that the Federal Prosecutors and the FBI often use the GJ in what is known as “a fishing expedition because they don’t have a solid case and there is no evidence.”
Abreu recommended that an attorney who represents an independentista in these cases should request in writing the instructions for the subpoena. He warned that in the federal juridical system there is no absolute immunity, and reiterated that in the cases of independentistas, it is not an option to negotiate.
He recommended that a person who decides to appear before the GJ, “should at the very least take a paper and pencil, to write down the questions and consult with his attorney” before answering, no matter how many times he has to do so.
Meanwhile, Cintrón Fiallo, who was in prison in the decade of 1980 for refusing to testify at a Grand Jury, expressed that at the grand jury, “there are no due process guarantees at all, and the only evidence presented is what the prosecutor and the FBI want.” He reiterated that the GJ is a tool against the independence movement in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, to harm and divide the movement, intimidate, criminalize the struggle, and put organizations on the defensive.
Describing what led him to the position of Non-collaboration with the Grand Jury, he specified that this includes not answering questions of any sort, not identifying photographs, not entering into dialogue (with the agents), and not even attending the hearing to which one is subpoenaed. Cintrón Fiallo called for “not being fooled by” legal defenses at the GJ. “The ultimate situation is to appear or not. That is the real situation.”
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