On Jan. 11 lawyers for three Puerto Ricans with subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury in New York that morning announced that the date had been postponed until sometime in February. Social worker Christopher Torres and filmmakers Tania Frontera and Julio Antonio Pabon are apparently being questioned as part of a US probe into the Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Macheteros, a rebel pro-independence group whose leader, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, was killed by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Puerto Rico in September 2005.
The postponement was announced at a protest outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn the morning of Jan. 11. Protesters said FBI agents had surprised Torres, Frontera and Pabon and their families, visiting them at home or work and showing them “about 20” recent photographs of Puerto Rican activists. Frontera’s attorney, Martin Stolar, said he was filing a motion to quash his client’s subpoena as a violation of her rights of free speech and free association. If that fails, Stolar said, “she’ll probably affirm her right not to testify” based on the US Constitution. Puerto Rican activists have a tradition of refusing to testify in federal courts and have often been jailed for contempt. According to activist Frank Velgara, grand jury subpoenas concerning the Puerto Rican movement hadn’t been served in New York for almost two decades. (El Diario-La Prensa, Jan. 12)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 13
See our last post on Puerto Rico.