Puerto Rico: thousands protest anti-gay crimes

On Dec. 16 the body of an unidentified man was found in a motel in the southern Puerto Rican city of Ponce; he had been stabbed 20 times and partly decapitated. Julio Serrano, spokesperson for the National Association for the Defense of Homosexuals, said the police should investigate the possibility that this was a hate crime against gays. Serrano added that no one has ever been charged with an anti-gay hate crime in Puerto Rico and that “not doing anything creates a climate of homophobia, hate and persecution.” (Univision, Dec. 17)

Thousands of people had demonstrated in San Juan the evening of Nov. 25 to protest what they called the Puerto Rican government’s indifference in the similar case of Jorge Steven López Mercado, a gay university student whose dismembered and burned body was found on Nov. 12 in the southern town of Cayey. Juan Martínez Matos confessed to the murder, saying he killed López Mercado, who was dressed as a woman, when he found out that the victim was a man. Prosecutors charged Martínez Matos with murder but not with a hate crime. “We are gay people, heterosexual people, young and old,” Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesperson for the US-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said at the candlelight protest outside the Puerto Rican Justice Department. “It’s Puerto Rico that’s marching tonight.” There were also vigils in New York, Los Angeles and other US cities. (EFE, Nov. 25; Universo Gay, Spain, Nov. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 20

See our last post on Puerto Rico.