US revives grand jury probe of Puerto Rican independence activists

The US government is continuing its efforts to have Puerto Ricans testify before a federal grand jury on the independence movement. A summons was served on Tania Frontera, a graphic artist living in New York City, to appear before a New York grand jury on June 13, along with an unidentified man who lives in Puerto Rico. Frontera had been scheduled to appear before the grand jury on at least two times earlier this year, but the sessions were postponed. She has said she will refuse to testify.

The daughter of an active member of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Frontera says she doesn’t belong to any organization and hadn’t expect to be questioned by the government, although she has participated in public political activities. She said Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents came to her place of employment and asked for her without identifying themselves. When she learned who they were, she told them: “All right, I don’t have time for you,” and escorted them to the door. (Adital, June 13; Claridad, Puerto Rico, May 21) (As of June 15 there appeared to be no published reports on the June 13 grand jury session.)

On June 3 Doudou Diene, United Nations (UN) rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, inspected the farmhouse in the western Puerto Rican city of Hormigueros where US federal agents killed Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios during a raid on Sept. 23, 2005. Diene is expected to issue a report on the situation in Puerto Rico in three months. During his two-day visit he also heard testimony at the Guerrero de Aguadilla prison on dozens of inmates who died while in drug detoxification, and he was scheduled to speak with residents of Mayaguez who say that members of poor communities are subjected to human rights violations and false criminal charges. (Primera Hora, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, June 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 15

See our last post on Puerto Rico.