PR political prisoners

James M. Blaut 70671.2032 at SPAMcompuserve.com
Fri Aug 13 09:38:33 MDT 1999



Subject: Fwd: PROBLEMS WITH THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S OFFER
Date:    13-Aug-99 at 10:11
From:    INTERNET:Jmvilar at aol.com, INTERNET:Jmvilar at aol.com
Companeros,

The White House has called several major lobbyists that have been
pressuring
for the release of the prisoners to get people to stop calling the Whit
House. Their phones have been swamped. We must continue to blast away our
messages in that direction. The document I have included was drafted
yesterday to address the major problems with the conditions set by
President
Clinton. There is an accompanying document which specifies the exact
conditions that are being imposed on the prisoners. Please call (773)
278-0885 to receive a copy of this second document. We do not have it in
digital form yet so we would have to fax it to you. We must continue
generating messages it is having a very serious and solid effect.

Marcos Vilar-National Committee

    PUERTO RICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS:
    PROBLEMS WITH THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S OFFER

    1.  The offer does not apply equally to all 15 political prisoners on
whose behalf the campaign submitted the petition for unconditional release.

It provides for the immediate conditional release of 11: Edwin Cortes,
Elizam
Escobar, Ricardo Jimenez, Adolfo Matos, Dylcia Pagan, Alberto Rodriguez,
Alicia Rodriguez, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Luis Rosa, Alejandrina Torres, Carmen
Valentin; the conditional release of Juan Segarra Palmer in 5 years and
remittance of his fine; the conditional release of Oscar Lopez in 10 years;

and no release for Carlos Alberto Torres (who is serving a 70 year
sentence).
 It also provides no release for Antonio Camacho Negron, who was already
offered reparole, but does provide for remittance of his fine.

    2.  The offer is contingent on the prisoners accepting a series of
conditions. Although the government admits that the 15 Puerto Rican
political
prisoners were given excessive prison terms for their acts in favor of
Puerto
Rican independence, the conditions they are being asked to accept as part
of
the offer does not, in fact, commute their sentences.  It simply releases
them from prison to continue to serve the remainder of their
disproportionately lengthy sentences on the street, which, in some cases,
will last for the rest of their lives.

    3. The White House drafted a document for each prisoner to sign,
agreeing
to the terms of the commutation of their sentences.  One of the terms
requires them to renounce the use, attempted use, or advocacy of the use of

violence as a condition for release.  The prisoners have already made clear

in a collective statement submitted to the U.S. House Resources Committee,
at
the time it was considering the "Young" bill concerning the status of
Puerto
Rico, that they intend to integrate themselves into the civic and civil
life
of their communities, that they understand that times have changed, and
they
indicated their willingness to participate in a truly democratic, inclusive

process to resolve the colonial status of Puerto Rico.

    4.  The majority of the conditions which would be imposed by signing
the
document are not made explicit it, but are simply referred to as the
conditions established by the Parole Commission. Although the White House
did
not provide us with a list of these conditions, our research reveals that
the
conditions include strict travel and associational restrictions, among
others.  Should authorities determine that any violation of conditions
occurs, the "commutation" would be instantly void, and the original
sentence
reinstated. Ironically, the prisoners have more freedom of speech and, in
some cases where they are housed together, association, inside the prisons
than they would if they were released under the conditions attached to the
commutation.  The offer amounts to release on parole, which does not
constitute commutation or clemency.  Furthermore, the conditions would
interfere with their reintegration into civil society and the political
process, limiting their travel and their ability to associate with each
other
as well as with other activists who have been similarly criminalized.

    5. The offer is punitive. While the campaign's application for their
release, submitted in 1993, sought their unconditional release as a
humanitarian gesture and an act of political reconciliation, the offer
stops
short of releasing them from their sentences, and instead, continues to
punish and criminalize them for their ongoing commitment to the
independence
of Puerto Rico.

    6.  The prisoners have no ability to discuss the Administration's offer

with each other.  Their ability to discuss it with their attorney,
families,
and the campaign which has worked so long for their release is limited in
most cases to what they can afford, since the majority must pay for their
own
telephone calls, and is also limited to fifteen minute monitored and
automatically terminated calls.  For this reason, their attorney has asked
the White House to facilitate their placement at the Metropolitan
Correctional Center in Chicago, Illinois, where they would be able to
confer
with each other and their counsel.

    7. The Clinton/Gore Administration has participated in many efforts to
free political prisoners throughout the world, such as in South Africa,
Palestine, the north of Ireland, and Kosovo, where political prisoners were

freed without any conditions attached.  In the case of Nelson Mandela, the
U.S. government demanded his unconditional release. Mandela, who was
convicted of the same charge--seditious conspiracy--as the Puerto Rican
political prisoners, has been the major instrument in democratizing the
South
African political system.

    8.  The Puerto Rican people and their supporters immediately denounced
the conditions as insulting and demeaning to the prisoners and to the
Puerto
Rican people as a whole.  Reverend Jesse Jackson, Archbishop Roberto
Gonzalez
Nieves, U.S. Congressional Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez and Nydia
Velazquez, New York City Councilman Jose Rivera, and a host of others have
already publicly expressed their strong sentiments and urged the
Clinton/Gore
Administration to release all the prisoners unconditionally.

August 12, 1999


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