Juan Torruella, judge in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, encouraged Puerto Ricans to establish a "civil resistance" and "economic boycott" movement, in order to tackle the "degrading" and "derogatory" colonial treatment that, according to him, is embodied by the federal PROMESA Act and by the enforcement of an Oversight Board in the Island.
Torruella, during a speech he gave at the Puerto Rican Bar Association Convention held yesterday in Río Grande, said that PROMESA—other than being a law that proposes a "crude" administration of the colony—imposes a "collection agency" for Puerto Rico's debt, despite the havoc that political insubordination has wreaked throughout the Island's history.
"I would like to suggest that a civil resistance movement be organized and that we not only summon our residents in Puerto Rico, but also our compatriots in exile and definitely the Latino community in the United States. Today, this is the biggest minority in the country and its support could be decisive in the future of the US," said Torruella, who was one of the convention's keynote speakers.
"As I've said before, there is nothing like attacking pockets to attract attention to a problem and get satisfactory results. That's why I've thought about economic boycott as a powerful weapon of civil resistance. I think that, in the near future, the supporters of these movements should take action and act peacefully if necessary, and I want to underline the word peaceful. This includes respecting those who think differently from us," he added, after he explained that his expressions constitute his private opinion and that he isn't reviewing the legality or illegality of the PROMESA Act.
During his statement, Torruella gave an overview of the United States jurisprudence in its management of territories.
He indicated that initially the US Constitution applied to any territory under federal jurisdiction.
This, however, changed with the Insular Cases, during which they "invented" a new status system where the US Constitution did not completely apply to all territories.
According to Torruella, this change is due to the racism that prevailed during the time and to the Manifest Destiny theory, which proclaimed the United States' imperialist vision.
As a consequence of the Insular Cases the industrial and commercial exploitation began, with the latifundium and the subsequent imposition of the Jones Act, which subsidizes 27% of the costs of the US Merchant Marine.
He indicated that since 1920 the US Merchant Marine has cost Puerto Rico an estimated $78.8 billion, a figure that is higher than the public debt that currently amounts to about $69 billion.
Similarly, he highlighted the unequal treatment towards Puerto Rico in social program participation, in spite of Puerto Ricans' economic contributions.
"This is the time to do what we can and have done in the past during moments of crisis. It is time to come together, defend our rights and act peacefully, because we are people of peace. But that doesn't imply that we must be docile and accept everything they attempt to impose on us," the federal judge pointed out.
"There is nothing like violence to delegitimize the most just of movements. This is especially so in Puerto Rico, where we've seen that violence is overwhelmingly rejected by Puerto Ricans. We're batting in the last inning. The score is tied. We've got the winning run in third base. There are two outs and two strikes. The moment of truth has arrived. Keep your eye on the ball and give it all you've got," the federal judge said in the end.
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