Monument to local carver nears completion in Jayuya

Jayuya, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) – Master carver and archeologist Robinson Urayoan Rosado is preparing a commemorative monument for renowned artisan Elpidio Collazo González “Maboití” at the Centro de Arte y Cultura Elpidio in Jayuya, Boriken (Puerto Rico). Collazo, who passed away in 2007, was one of the island’s most illustrious carvers of local bird life from wood.

Carving into a 3 ton stone from the local area, Urayoan’s (Robinson Rosado) tribute is fitting as it features Taino bird pertroglyphs. The monument will be a center piece of the cultural center where Maboití and his family spent much of their time. The center is home to the Cemi Museum, the Casa Canales, and the CATTA-COOP artisan collective.

Explaining the metaphoric significance of these carved bird representations, Urayoan expressed his pleasure in participating in this project with the approval of the Jayuya municipal council.

Urayoan’s nearly completed inspirational tribute to elder Maboiti was a fitting compliment to the greeting and reception of the Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run. To support the historic run the municipal government of Jayuya and CATTA-COOP hosted the runners, Taino leaders, visiting indigenous dignitaries, and supporters at the cultural center over the weekend.

UCTPTN 07.24.2010


Divers find ancient monkey fossil

Scientists have examined fossilised remains of a tiny, extinct monkey that were retrieved from an underwater cave in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic - The researchers believe the fossil to be around 3,000 years old, but say the species itself could be very ancient.

This reveals clues about the origin of primates in the region.

It also suggests that many ecologically valuable treasures could be discovered by the unusual field of "underwater palaeontology".

Dr Alfred Rosenberger from Brooklyn College in New York, US, led the examination of the creature's bones, the results of which were published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

He explained that the bones, which included a skull that was almost complete, were found by a team of scuba divers who were exploring an underwater cave in the area.

"It's miraculous that they even saw it," he told BBC News.

"When they discovered it, they were fearful the bones were exposed, so they moved the material to a little nook to protect it."

Having sought official permission to remove the fossil from the cave, Dr Rosenberger returned to with the scuba divers to retrieve it in October of last year.

The divers packed the skeleton into tupperware boxes in order to bring it safely to the surface.

'Stout little monkey'

Dr Rosenberger said the monkey - only the second specimen of the species Antillothrix bernensis ever found - probably measured about 30cm (12in) from head to toe.

But the shape of the legs came as a surprise.

"Its femur or thigh bone was very thick. So it had sort of stout legs, which is something we didn't expect.

"We don't really have any living examples of New World monkeys that have stout legs like that."

Dr Rosenberger thinks the creature went extinct relatively recently.

He said that it may have behaved similarly to a koala - clinging to the trunks of trees, rather than leaping from branch to branch.

"That's a very rough analogy, he said.
"But there's something very interesting about the ecological niche it inhabited."

The fossil also adds to evidence that there were several lineages of primates in the Caribbean, instead of one ancestor that moved into the region millions of years ago from which all modern species evolved.

Dr Rosenberger said it was likely that several species travelled "over the water" to inhabit the island of Hispaniola.

"And even though these particular bones might be relatively young, we're pretty sure that the arrival of these animals occurred well over 10 million years ago.

"That's an exciting part of the story - if you compare the dental remains of our monkey to other fossils that we know of, we see strong similarities with Patagonian fossils that are around 15 million years old."

Dr Sam Turvey, a researcher from the Zoological Society of London in the UK, said the discovery emphasised how much we still had to learn about the "original mammal fauna" of the Caribbean.

"It's now possible to reconstruct what this mysterious animal looked like and how it evolved," he said.

"The Caribbean islands have experienced the world's highest level of mammalian extinction over the past 10,000 years.

"With this improved knowledge of a recently extinct species, it might be possible to understand what caused it to disappear from Hispaniola."

Author: Victoria Gill
Source: BBC News


Peace and Dignity Run Begins in Borikén

Runners for Peace and Dignity Boriken 2010. (Photo: Amy Ponce)

Borikén/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – The Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run began on the 17th of July with the sounding of many guamo (conch shell horns) at sunrise in the Yunke Rainforest. A spiritual event, the run is being undertaken to raise awareness about the condition of indigenous scared sites on the island as well as connect native Taino islanders with their mainland relations. At the special opening ceremony, runners received the blessing of elders and other community members as they began an historic journey that would take them to sacred sites all around the island.

The runners – who are representing community members residing on and off the island - have the responsibility to carry a number of sacred staffs representing the “prayers of the people”.

Gabriel Saspe, a representative for “Peace and Dignity Journeys”, traveled from Arizona to Borikén to connect the continental run with the islands. Peace And Dignity Journeys has been hosting spiritual runs since 1992. Saspe will receive a sacred Guaraguao (hawk) staff from the Taino community which will be added to the Peace and Dignity Journey’s bundle of staffs from throughout the hemisphere. The Guaraguao staff was prepared by the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos.

The participants of the Boriken 2010 Peace and Dignity Run have already completed runs in the east, south, and western regions of the island. The runners and supporters are now on their way north. After the northern area run, the group will begin their journey to the central region where ceremonies will take place in the towns of Jayuya and Utuado.

Indigenous delegates from Kiskeia (Dominican Republic) and Waitukubuli (Dominica) will join the Borikén Taino in solidarity to participate in the ceremonial closing events this weekend.

UCTPTN 07.20.2010


Special Committee decision concerning Puerto Rico

The Special Committee,

Bearing in mind the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, as well as the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,

Considering that the period 1990-2000 was proclaimed by the General Assembly, in its resolution 43/47 of 22 November 1988, as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, and that by resolution 55/146 of 8 December 2000, the General Assembly declared the period 2001-2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism,

Bearing in mind the 28 resolutions and decisions adopted by the Special Committee on the question of Puerto Rico, contained in the reports of the Special Committee to the General Assembly, in particular those adopted without a vote in recent years,

Recalling that 25 July 2010 marks the one hundred and twelfth anniversary of the intervention in Puerto Rico by the United States of America,

Noting with concern that despite the diverse initiatives taken by the political representatives of Puerto Rico and the United States in recent years, the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, in compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee on Puerto Rico, has not yet been set in motion,

Stressing the urgent need for the United States to lay the groundwork for the full implementation of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico,

Noting that the inter-agency Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status designated by the President of the United States, which submitted its second report in December 2007, reaffirmed that Puerto Rico is a territory subject to United States congressional authority and that initiatives concerning Puerto Rico’s status have been subsequently presented to the Congress of the United States,

Also noting the “Panama Proclamation”, adopted by the Latin American and Caribbean Congress for the Independence of Puerto Rico, which was held in Panama from 17 to 19 November 2006 and attended by 33 political parties from 22 countries of the region, the conclusions of which were reaffirmed in Mexico City on 29 March 2008 at the meeting of the Standing Committee for Puerto Rican Independence; and the declaration of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, adopted at its meeting in Buenos Aires in April 2010, supporting a review of the case of Puerto Rico by the United Nations General Assembly,

Further noting the debate in Puerto Rico on the search for a procedure that would make it possible to launch the process of decolonization of Puerto Rico, and aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico,

Aware that Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, was used for over 60 years by the United States Marines to carry out military exercises, with negative consequences for the health of the population, the environment and the economic and social development of that Puerto Rican municipality,

Noting the consensus existing among the people and the Government of Puerto Rico on the necessity of ensuring the clean-up, decontamination and return to the people of Puerto Rico of all the territory previously used for military exercises and installations, and of using them for the social and economic development of Puerto Rico,

Also noting the complaints made by the inhabitants of Vieques Island regarding the continued bombing and the use of open burning for clean-up, which exacerbate the existing health problems and pollution and endanger civilian lives,

Further noting the consensus among the people of Puerto Rico in favour of the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, some of whom have been serving sentences in United States prisons for more than 29 years for cases related to the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence,

Noting the concern of the people of Puerto Rico regarding violent actions, including repression and intimidation, against Puerto Rican independence fighters, including those that have recently come to light through documents declassified by federal agencies of the United States,

Also noting that in the final document of the Fifteenth Summit of the Non Aligned Movement, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 11 to 16 July 2009, and at other meetings of the Movement, the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence is reaffirmed on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV); the Government of the United States is urged to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence; the Government of the United States is urged to return the territory and occupied installations on Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people, who constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation; and the General Assembly is urged to actively consider the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects,

Having heard statements and testimonies representative of various viewpoints among the people of Puerto Rico and their social institutions,

Having considered the report of the Rapporteur of the Special Committee on the implementation of the resolutions concerning Puerto Rico,

1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence in conformity with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico;

2. Reiterates that the Puerto Rican people constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation that has its own unequivocal national identity;

3. Calls upon the Government of the United States of America to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will allow the Puerto Rican people fully to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance and in full compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico;

4. Notes the broad support of eminent persons, governments and political forces in Latin America and the Caribbean for the independence of Puerto Rico;

5. Again notes the debate in Puerto Rico on the implementation of a mechanism that would ensure the full participation of representatives of all viewpoints prevailing in Puerto Rico, including a constitutional assembly on status with a basis in the decolonization alternatives recognized in international law, aware of the principle that any initiative for the solution of the political status of Puerto Rico should originate from the people of Puerto Rico;

6. Expresses serious concern regarding actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters, and encourages the investigation of those actions with the necessary rigour and with the cooperation of the relevant authorities;

7. Requests the General Assembly to consider the question of Puerto Rico comprehensively in all its aspects;

8. Urges the Government of the United States, in line with the need to guarantee the Puerto Rican people their legitimate right to self-determination and the protection of their human rights, to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and in Ceiba to the people of Puerto Rico; respect fundamental human rights, such as the right to health and economic development; and expedite and cover the costs of the process of cleaning up and decontaminating the impact areas previously used in military exercises through means that do not continue to aggravate the serious consequences of its military activity for the health of the inhabitants of Vieques Island and the environment;

9. Requests the President of the United States of America to release Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, who have been serving sentences in United States prisons for over 28 years, and Avelino González Claudio, all of whom are Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in United States prisons for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico;

10. Notes with satisfaction the report prepared by the Rapporteur of the Special Committee,1 in compliance with its resolution of 9 June 2008;

11. Requests the Rapporteur to report to the Special Committee in 2010 on the implementation of the present resolution;

12. Decides to keep the question of Puerto Rico under continuous review.

Source: United Nations


University of Puerto Rico Student Strike Victory Unleashes Brutal Civil Rights Backlash

Puerto Rico - As so many Americans gear up for Fourth of July fireworks this weekend, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico roils from a brutal civil rights showdown unleashed by a far-right wing government, now seemingly hell bent on destroying the recent unprecedented victory of a two-month long student strike against privatization of higher education at the University of Puerto Rico.

The broader implications are crucial on numerous fronts, including the struggle to maintain broad access to public higher education and efforts to rein in runaway neoliberal policies that have wreaked havoc on the global economy, resulting in draconian austerity measures worldwide. For the violence and repression seen in Greece and at the G20 in Toronto appears to now be visiting this Caribbean island nation of about four million U.S. citizens, the homeland of more than an additional four million Puerto Ricans in the United States, the second largest U.S. Latino group.

While the economic crisis in Puerto Rico--the worst since the 1940s, if not the 1930s-has been deepening for years, and the current right wing government has aggressively implemented a hard-line, unpopular neoliberal agenda since its broad electoral victory last November, it appears as if the recent UPR student strike victory has touched off a firestorm, with a police attack on peaceful demonstrators at Puerto Rico's Capitol building on Wednesday injuring dozens, some seriously.

The UPR strike concluded June 21 after a tense, two-month shut down of 10 campuses in a system serving nearly 65,000 students at the end of the academic year, with an accord that by all accounts was an unprecedented strike victory, in historic, hemispheric terms. A widely-supported student movement remarkable for its coalition building across traditionally distinct and even contentious social and political sectors coalesced against threatened erosion of broad public access to the widely-regarded state university, as well as its increasing privatization.

With tensions high after police and riot squads had attacked and injured students, their parents and journalists on at least three occasions, an agreement finally reached through judicial mediation met with the students' basic demands, reinstating cancelled tuition waivers, temporarily forestalling a tuition hike or imposition of student fees, and protecting strike leaders from summary suspension reprisals. The accord, signed by a majority of the Board of Trustees, though those refusing included the university and board presidents, was hailed as an achievement in civil conflict resolution, especially in light of the history of previous UPR strikes that had ended in deadly violent repressions.

Immediately after however, the Puerto Rico state legislature, dominated by the extreme right of the local Pro-Statehood party, rapidly expanded the university Board of Trustees, with the governor approving four new appointees, and a new but divided board quickly imposed a $800 student fee starting in January, and made it permanent, reminiscent of the imposition of fees at University of California by then Gov. Ronald Reagan. The legislature also quickly dismantled a long-standing UPR tradition of student assemblies, replacing them with private electronic computer voting devoid of open debate. Other cuts were also implemented affecting professors and adjunct instructors, who now make up about 40 percent of the UPR faculty, following trends in the United States, where 60 percent of all professors occupy such increasingly precarious positions.

In a far worse economic straits than the states of California or Michigan, Puerto Rico is confronting its worst fiscal crisis in decades, and UPR the biggest fiscal crisis of its 100-year existence. As throughout much of the world facing related circumstances, virulent and organized opposition to drastic cuts principally directed at the working and deteriorating middle classes has mushroomed, especially since the current global crisis, in Alan Greenspan's own befuddled words, was caused by greed-induced corruption among the highest echelons of the world economy.

While the neoliberal agenda of Puerto Rico's current political leaders look back to the very doctrines now being challenged in the United States and throughout Latin America, the UPR student movement embodies the vanguard of the contemporary 21st Century, as reflected by their symbols and tactics, including the democratizing internet, egalitarian rainbow flags, sustainable organic farming, an effervescence of alternative arts, and new coalition building among center, right and left, in tandem with occupation practices inspired by international student movements as far as California, Spain, France and Greece.

Though a shocking collective trauma, the violent crackdown at the Capitol Wednesday was not entirely surprising given the current administration's assault on all fronts since coming into power, targeting progressive, cultural and social welfare institutions and agencies with crippling budget cuts, attempting to dissolve Puerto Rico's bar association, lifting environmental protections to whole swaths of protected lands, and passing a now notorious law, called Ley 7, that not only dismisses 20,000 public employees, but declares null and void all public sector union contracts for three years, with the only recourse to challenging the law being to petition the local Supreme Court, now stacked with new appointments in the administration's favor. The governor has also activated the National Guard, amidst criticism from groups such the Puerto Rico chapters of the ACLU and Amnesty International.

Common in Puerto Rico, however, though unusual at most U.S. state universities, is the way political parties assume control of UPR leadership by appointing a new president, also recently achieved. This is in part because the UPR is widely regarded as national patrimony, and is one of the few places left in the country where dissent may be cultivated.

As opposition to these policies expands, as seen in a massive national strike in October which drew a quarter of a million workers into the streets, so has the government's seeming intolerance to any opposition, as Gov. Luis Fortuño, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and UPR president José Ramón de la Torre commonly resort to Cold War era red-baiting with media campaigns labeling protestors as Socialists, Communists, and professional rabble rousers out to destabilize the country. The clamp down has so far gone as far as banning journalists from Senate chambers for four days last week during the country's budget sessions, prompting media organizations to petition in court to regain access.

"I don't think there is any doubt that the intention of this government is to set back civil rights," said Judith Berkan, a long-time civil rights attorney and a law professor at University of Puerto Rico and InterAmerican University in San Juan, adding that the administration has enacted a staggering number of measures to neutralize and debilitate all those perceived as a threat to a local oligarchy acting in concert with U.S. interests.

Attempts were made to reach Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress, and UPR President José Ramón de la Torre for comment, but they were not available at press time.

The irony that the Pro-U.S. Statehood party of Gov. Fortuño is now curtailing the most basic press and civil liberties is not lost on UPR student strike leaders who witnessed and were injured at Wednesday's melee, including those who belong to the pro-Statehood party themselves, and voted for the sitting governor.

"It pains me as a statehooder that this government has not learned the lessons of U.S. civil rights struggles of decades ago," said Aníbal Núñez, a student at the UPR law school and a member of the student negotiating committee.

Núñez acknowledged the participation of students affiliated with Socialist groups among strike leaders and the student negotiating committee, and said they overcame their differences via universal concerns for education as a social necessity, as they gained each others' respect while coalition building together, adding that if he could not overcome ideological differences enough to collaborate, he would still believe in their right to pluralistically exist.

The notion that accessible, quality higher education contributes to economic recovery runs counter to the widening U.S. trend of students graduating with crippling debt, as public education has for years now faced diminishing state support. A common argument used by the administration during the UPR strike was its affordable tuition, at less than $2,000 per year for undergraduates before the recently imposed fees. But while tuition is cheaper than probably any other state university in the United States, average income in Puerto Rico is also far lower than any other U.S. state, with about 48 percent of the population living in poverty as defined by U.S. federal standards, and the cost of living in San Juan at least, far higher than at oft compared institutions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or Oxford, Mississippi. This tradition of maintaining broad public access to a quality state institution of higher learning is a hard earned point of pride at UPR, compared to institutions that have recently reneged their public mission with sudden and steep fee/tuition increases, such as at University of California, where students also opposed, occupied and met with police repression, but could not stave off a 32% fee hike imposed in November.

As UPR administrators continue to grapple with what was a nearly $200 million budget shortfall for next year going into the strike, in search of additional or alternative money saving and raising sources, an emboldened student movement will also regroup and weigh all its options. Future conflicts may be averted by altering the very style of governance at UPR, a top-down and paternalistic holdover from the past, as this could go a long way toward making students, as well as professors and staff who also have large stakes at play, part of a give-and-take process.

For come what may in the global fiscal crisis in the coming decade, these students are the future of new Americas of increasingly porous borders and dramatic, rapid demographic, political, cultural, informational and economic shifts, as the old order, the vestiges of the Cold War in Puerto Rico and in South Florida for example, fade into the proverbial sunset.

"We may not hold the power but we have the will power," stated law student Núñez, "and given the choice, I prefer the latter."

UPR administrators and Statehood party leaders would do well to recognize and reach out to the productive potential of this new power, shift gears and learn to act on the principles they purportedly hold dear.

Author: Maritza Stanchich, Ph.D.
Source: Huffington Post


Funding Appeal for Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run

Takahi Guaitiao (Greetings Relatives):

It is our hope that this message finds you well and in good spirit. We are writing to bring your attention to an historic event that will take place on the island of Borikén (Puerto Rico) this July 17-25, 2010. This event, “The Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run: Road to 2012”, is an indigenous led spiritual run that seeks to raise awareness about the condition of sacred sites on the island of Borikén (Puerto Rico) as well as bring together in solidarity local indigenous islanders with mainland indigenous representatives.

The Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run is intricately connected to the ancient indigenous prophecy of the Eagle and Condor. This prophecy mandates that Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere shall reunite in a spiritual way to bring healing to the Nations and a better future for our children and generations to come.

The Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run provides a unique opportunity for local communities to honor their indigenous spiritual practices and traditions as well as promote the collective responsibilities we all have to Mother Earth, Father Sky, our communities, and ourselves.

The Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run will begin on July 17 in the sacred Yunke Rainforest with a special commencement ceremony. From there groups of runners and supporters will travel to four different points on the island and begin to run toward the center mountain region. Coming from the four directions runners and supporters will finally meet in the town of Jayuya on July 22nd. Once in Jayuya, those gathered with take part in cultural exchanges, workshops, communal meals, and ceremonies until the 25th of July. Participants will be gathered together camp ground style with some elders and visiting indigenous dignitaries being provided other local accommodations from the 22-25th.

As this is a grass-roots initiative, the organizers are seeking funds to assist with the hosting of this historic indigenous spiritual gathering; the first of its kind to be held in Borikén in about 500 years.

We are respectfully seeking your financial assistance, which will provide some travel support for visiting indigenous representatives, logistical support for local runners, and meals at the main gathering and ceremonies.

Your assistance is needed. Donations are tax-deductible.

You can donate to the Borikén 2010 Peace and Dignity Run via Pay Pal at www.uctp.org or by check or money-order made out to the UCTP with the words “Peace and Dignity” in the memo. Checks or money-orders can be sent to: UCTP, PO Box 4515, NY, NY 10163

For more information contact oirrc@uctp.org. Haho (thank you) in advance for your support.

Oma’bahari, nabori wa'ka
(With respect, we are at your service),

Vanessa Pastrana,
Borikén 2010 Coordinator

Roberto Borrero,
President, UCTP – OIRRC