Amnesty International Demands Safety of Fiscal Board Protesters
SAN JUAN – People who have been erecting tents since Wednesday at the main entrance of a federal building in Hato Rey were urging others to participate in the demonstration against the establishment of the Financial Oversight & Management Board following the enactment of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or Promesa.
“We are calling on people to come and give support at any time of the day. Events, workshops, poetry readings, music, various things are taking place,” Amado Martínez, one of the protesters, told Inter News Service. He also urged people to attend a rally against the board on Monday, July 4.
“Police have not intervened, but we have seen they are communication with the feds,” the young man said while in front of the federal court on Chardón Street.
It is rumored that authorities may intervene either Monday or Tuesday and that the order to do so has already been signed.
However, the demonstrators have been steadfast and claim it is necessary to continue to protest the “imposition of the fiscal control board,” with the number of people staying overnight at the Hato Rey site continuously increasing.
Amnesty International Puerto Rico (AIPR) called for assurances that the safety of demonstrators who have set up camp would be guaranteed. Reportedly, federal marshals on Friday warned that the camp could not remain at its current location and participants must leave.
“We believe this group wants to express its concern about the decision to impose a fiscal control board and [the demonstration] is being carried out peacefully. We demand that any attempt to evict the camp fully respect the human rights of these young people who are expressing their feelings,” said Liza Gallardo Martín, executive director of the AIPR.
According to the organization, its concern arises due to the history of criminalization of the right to public expression in Puerto Rico. “To express oneself publicly and participate in demonstrations is a fundamental right to be able to demand other rights,” said Rubén Kondrup, activism coordinator at AIPR. “However, we have seen how in Puerto Rico and many other countries, protests are treated as a criminal acts. This is a matter of great concern to Amnesty International,” he added.
Civil disobedience is a tactic used all over the world, and while it continues being a non-violent act, police and other state officials should not use force against the protesters, the AIPR said in a statement Sunday.
“The country has its eyes on this camp, and at Amnesty International we are also vigilantly watching the developments there. Any excessive or unreasonable use of force would be totally unacceptable,” Gallardo concluded.