Taíno join opposition to Financial Control Board for Borikén (Puerto Rico)

Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrana and Roberto Mukaro Borrero sound the guamo 
(conch shells) to open the demonstration in New York opposing the 
U.S. imposed Financial Oversight and Management Board for Borikén 
(Puerto Rico). Photo courtesy of Mario Rubén Carrión
New York, NY (UCTP Taino News) - On Friday, September 30, a diverse group of human rights defenders rallied in New York to voice their opposition to the first formal meeting the newly created and U.S. imposed Financial Oversight and Management Board for Borikén (Puerto Rico). The rally was held outside the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York, home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in NY. The rally opened with an indigenous Taíno invocation to the 4 directions and followed with about 3 hours of passionate calls to abolish the board and end colonialism for Puerto Rico. 

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico was created by the Obama administration’s Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or Promesa as a way to deal with Puerto Rico’s economic crisis, which includes a debt of over 70 Billion dollars. Many activists and analysts note that it is the colonial condition of Puerto Rico that has created the crisis and the U.S. should be accountable for the debt. This control board named Jose Carrión III as chairman, clearing the way to officially take over financial decision-making from Puerto Rico’s government. A Republican, Carrión was recommended by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). He also presides over the Puerto Rico subsidiary of HUB International, a global insurance brokerage company. His appointment is controversial as he is the brother-in-law of Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s non-voting member in Congress. 

At the demonstration, Roberto Múkaro Borrero stated the “imposition of this financial control board by the United States violates Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination.” Borrero continued stating that “Promesa and along with the continuance of the Jones Act are clear proof of the island’s colonial status.” Borrero is a community leader representing the Guainia Taíno Tribe and is the current President of the United Confederation of Taíno People. Borrero continued stating that a specific area of concern with the legislation is that “it gives the board the power to expedite approvals of energy and other projects they deem critical, which could have severe consequences to the island’s environment if the projects are not evaluated properly.” 

Puerto Rico’s central government, three retirement systems (teachers, judicial and employees), university (UPR) and all its public corporations, including the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and Electric Power Authority, are now under the immediate control of the new entity. The board also has oversight over the restructuring negotiations with creditors. The governor of Puerto Rico holds a non-voting position on the board, In addition, the board and its employees are exempt from liability claims. 

There is no information as to when the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico will meet next. 

UCTPTN 09.30.2016


Taino Flag flying at Oceti Sakowin Camp

Guainia Taino Tribal member Nova Saigo at the Oceti Sakowin camp with the 
flag of the United Confederation of Taino People 
and other flags of Indigenous Peoples 
Oceti Sakowin Camp, ND (UCTP Taino News) – The flag of the United Confederation of Taino People joins the other flags of Indigenous Peoples flying in solidarity at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota where thousands of American Indians and their allies are opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline threatens the only fresh drinking water source of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its construction will destroy sacred sites and burial grounds of the area’s Tribal Nations. The flag was presented by Nova Saigo a member of the Guainia Taino Tribe registered with the United Confederation of Taino People. During the flag presentation, Saigo also read an official solidarity message from the Confederation to the “Protectors” at the camp and was assisted by Cliff Standing Deer Mathias, President of the Redrum Motorcycle Club of which Saigo is also a member. 

UCTPTN 09.25.2016


Hundreds Support Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Washington D.C.

Representing the International Indian Treaty Council, UCTP President Roberto Mukaro Borrero addresses the large crowd gathered in Washington D.C. to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. 
Washington D.C. (UCTP Taino News) – Several hundred American Indians and allies rallied outside the Washington D.C. Federal District Court on August 24, 2016 to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are seeking an injunction to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Tribe argues that the pipeline construction was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers without proper consultation with the tribal government of the Standing Rock Sioux. 

While the court proceedings took place inside, supporters gathered outside to hear a full day of solidarity statements from American Indian leaders and community members, environmental activists, and celebrities such as Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley, as well as American Indian drumming and singing. Representatives of the Piscataway Nation, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Redrum Motorcycle Club, the American Indian Community House, and the International Indian Treaty Council were among the many who addressed the gathering. Taino community members representing the Bohio Atabei Caribbean Women’s
Vanessa Inarunikia and Gina
Rixturey of Bohio Atabei at the
rally in Washington D.C.
Circle, a member of the United Confederation of Taino People, also participated and addressed the crowd. 

The proposed construction is scheduled to cross the Missouri River, which would greatly endanger the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s only source of drinking water. Star of the Divergent series, actress Shailene Woodley noted that the Missouri River is also a water source for 18 million Americans. The pipleline’s construction also endangers and could possibly destroy indigenous sacred places, including burial sites along its route. 

Judge James Boasberg is expected to rule on the motion by Sept. 9, 2016. The construction of the pipeline in North Dakota is halted until a ruling is issued. 

 UCTPTN 08.24.2016


Taino Support Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline

Native Americans protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. 
(AP Photo/James MacPherson)
Ft. Yates, North Dakota (UCTP Taino News) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved construction permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will bring it within a half a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. If completed, this pipeline would transport approximately 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day and cross the Missouri River, which is the only source of water to the reservation. A key issue is that the USACE did not consulate with or gain consent from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST), which is a violation of the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other International Human Rights instruments whose provisions the United States is obliged to uphold. According to tribal officials the pipeline will damage or destroy sacred sites and burial grounds along its proposed route. The SRST has issued a call of support for its opposition to the pipeline, which the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) responded to on August 16, 2016 in an official communication to Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II. 

The Confederation’s solidarity letter supported the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s courageous efforts to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and that it is clear that federal laws and treaties were bypassed in the planning process requiring direct consultation with the Tribe.” The Tribe’s External Affairs Director Steven Sitting Bear confirmed receipt of the Confederation letter stating, “Standing Rock appreciates the Taino People’s support.” 

Roberto Múkaro Agüeibaná Borrero, President of the UCTP noted that “Taino People have experience with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their lack of consultation with regard to sacred sites and burial grounds.” Borrero continued stating that “despite provisions in the Historic Preservation Act for consultation, the USACE proceeded to remove ancestral remains without meeting with local Taino even after several official requests were made with regard to the Hacanas (Jacanas) PO29 archeological site in 2007.” 

“Considering these past actions and the current situation affecting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the USACE continues to violate the right to free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples as defined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is contrary to the Obama administration commitment to implement the Declaration.” 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has filled an injunction to halt the construction of the pipeline scheduled to be heard case being heard in Federal Court in early September 2016. 

UCTPTN 08.19.2016


NYC Mayor de Blasio Approves Borinqueneers Way

In this photo: Katherine Benson (EH Preservation); Rosa Cruz (PR Federal Affairs); Zaida Rodriguez (EH Borinqueneers Honoring Committee- EHBHC); Mayor Bill de Blasio; Roger Hernandez (EHBHC/UCTP); Evelyn Collazao (EHBHC); and Ruben Pratts (Purple Heart Recipient and Taino Community Member).
City Hall, New York City (UCTP Taino News) – On August 3rd, 2016 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed off on naming 102nd Street and Lexington Avenue as "Borinqueneers Way." The street naming will honor the members of the U.S. Army 65th Infantry Regiment, a segregated unit made up of Puerto Ricans, who fought in World War I & II, and Korea. The street renaming was lead by Roger Hernandez, the Chairman of the East Harlem Borinqueneers Honoring Committee and a founding board member of the United Confederation of Taino People.  

The U.S. Army 65th Infantry Regiment received their nickname from the soldiers themselves on their way to Korea who referenced the Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico, Borikén, as many were direct descendants of the indigenous Tribe. Today, many Puerto Ricans refer to themselves as Boricuas in recognition of the Caribbean Indigenous heritage of their homeland - Borikén. 

On April 13th, 2016, the U.S. Congress unveiled the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington, DC to honor the service and sacrifice of the previously forgotten solders of the 65th Infantry. Following-up on this historic initiative, Hernandez and the East Harlem Committee organized several events to raise awareness about the regiment including facilitating the presentation bronze-cast replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal in an awards ceremony to honor the New York and New Jersey area veterans who were unable to attend the Washington DC event. 

Fifty-six veterans received the medals in this special ceremony that took place at Hunter College on July 17th, 2016. The Hunter College event was live-streamed by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies and is one of several local ceremonies that have been planned or will be planned across the country.

“While I was in Korea fighting with my fellow brother soldiers and officers, I never thought that something like this would happen. I am honored to have served in the 65th and to this day I don’t regret my service with the regiment,” said Eugenio Quevedo, one of the veterans being honored that day. 

The official street renaming event will be held in November. 

 UCTPTN 08.03.2016