BY BRIAN TAYLOR
NEW YORK - "Puerto Rico no se vende" - Puerto Rico is not for sale -read a large banner at a picket of 100 people here June 24 in solidarity with striking telephone workers in Puerto Rico. The action was called by Comité Puerto Rico '98, and was one of a series of events building the July 25 demonstration for Puerto Rican independence at the United Nations.
"The telephone company has become a symbol of national identity," said Jerry Maldonado, a 24-year-old activist in the group Muévete who was holding the banner. "I think that's why it has become such a passionate issue."
At least a half dozen workers and others passing by joined the protest.
That evening about 15 people attended a Comité planning meeting for the UN action, where activists discussed adding a fact sheet about the telephone workers strike to the back of the flyer for the July 25 march. On June 20, close to 30 people gathered for an evening of political and cultural presentations at the Julia de Burgos center here to build for the July 25 national demonstration in Washington, D.C.
Ana López of the National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Prisoners of War and Political Prisoners kicked off the meeting with a presentation on the history of the colonization of Puerto Rico. Juan Marcos Vilar, a national leader of the National Committee who came from Chicago, spoke about the historical importance of this year's actions, which mark 100 years of struggle against U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico. "We want to have a strong march and voice our will for independence and for release of the political prisoners," Vilar said.
Guillermo Morales Pagán, son of Puerto Rican political prisoner Dylcia Pagán, who came from Chicago, said, "We want to get as many people as possible out to protest this year and deal a knockout blow [to Washington] to get the prisoners free." Vilar said activists are building the event in Boston, Cleveland, New York, Hartford, Connecticut, and across the Midwest and elsewhere. "In Minnesota we have a full busload!" Vilar reported that pro-independence forces are organizing a July 25 event in San Francisco to coincide with the other actions. "No matter where you are - D.C., New York, or Alaska - stand up and do something for independence on that day!"
Rose Ana Berbeo, a member of the International
Association of Machinists, contributed to this article.
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