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October 26, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-26

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6

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, October 26, 1988

The Michigan Daily

Puerto

Rico

still

a

U.S. colony

By Josd Batista, Pedro
Bonillo, Jesus Irizarry, Jorge
Jimenez, Jose Norat, Ivette
Perfecto, Lisa Ruiz
It is sad that in this country so little is
understood about Puerto Rico. It is espe-
cially sad that one of our own compatriots
has written a letter that effectively clouds
the issues important to our country
(Daily, 10/19/88, letter from Mr.
Veisquez-Rivera). We shall try to clarify
some of the points that Velksquez-Rivera
obscured.
It is an historical fact that united States
troops invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, and
have occupied the island ever since. Today
the U.S. military occupies 13 percent of
our national territory, and the U.S. gov-
ernment dominates our civil institutions.
That we had been occupied before by the
Spanish is hardly relevant(indeed,
immediately before the U.S. invasion,
Spain granted Puerto Rico autonomy
which allowed for more rights as a nation
than we have ever had under U. S. colonial
rule). At the time that other Latin Ameri-
can countries were gaining their indepen-
dence, Puerto Rico (along with Cuba) was
retained as a colony of the United States.
That Veldsquez-Rivera apparently does not
know this history, despite his Puerto-Ri-
can heritage, only speaks to the political
'bias that exists in the school systems of
« The authors are members of the Puerto
ican Solidarity Organization.

both the United States and Puerto Rico,
not unexpected in a colonial system.
It is true that in 1917 Puerto Ricans
were declared U.S. citizens(by the way, we
were not asked, it was by decree from
Washington). Is it not also true that the
United States entered World War I shortly
thereafter? And let us not forget that, in
proportion to their population, more
Puerto Ricans than other group died fight-
ing in Korea and Vietnam. Just as Native
Americans have been quite "free" to be
cannon fodder in the Gringo's wars, Puerto
Ricans have the "right" to be drafted but
not the right to vote for the presidents that
declare these drafts.
But could we possibly come up with a
better Orwellian twist than the suggestion
that because two million Puerto Ricans
live in the United States they do not want
independence? Does this mean that the
Cubans, Jamaicans, Haitians, Mexicans,
El Salvadoreans, Guatemalans, and many
other economic and political refugees that
currently live in the United States want.
their countries to be colonies of the United
States. Forty percent of the Puerto Rican
population lives in the United States be-
cause life in Puerto Rico is difficult. Our
official unemployment rate is 20 percent,
but most honest observers put the actual
rate at closer to forty percent. Our industry
exists only because a handful of multina-
tional corporations take advantage of
giveaway tax breaks, and our agriculture
has been completely destroyed. Yes Puerto
Ricans migrate to the United States
escaping difficult conditions, just as Mex-
icans do.

Velhsquez-Rivera apparently is confused,
as are many U.S. citizens, about the
political status of Puerto Rico. There are
three status options for Puerto Rico: An
independent country, a state of the United
States, or a colony (in official newspeak,
colony is called commonwealth or "free
associated state," an important propaganda
point since few would agree to be a
"colony," but commonwealth sounds more
acceptable, "free associated state" even
better). There are two main political par-
ties in Puerto Rico and numerous minor
ones. The question of official status is
neither officially nor informally associated
with either of these political parties. Indi-
vidual Puerto Ricans feel strongly about
the question of political status indepen-
dently of their party affiliations. Several of
the signatories to this letter voted for the
Popular Democratic party in the past
(presumably the party that Velasquez-
Rivera refers to as the pro-commonwealth
party), yet none of us supports the colo-
nial status of Puerto Rico. While it is
probably true that the majority of pro-
statehooders on the island belong to the
New Progressive party, it is by no means
true that all the members of that party are
pro-statehood. The only party that offi-
cially and actually has the political status
question at the foundation of its existence
is the Puerto Rican Independence Party
(Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno),
to which none of us belongs, in spite of
the fact that we are all independence ac-
tivists. Do not be deceived by those who
wish to cloud the issue of political status
by associating it with current official po-

litical parties.
But even if current political parties in
Puerto Rico were unequivocally aligned
with one or another political status, a vote
under current political conditions would
not be possible, according to international
law. According to the United Nations,
colonial elections are illegal. National
sovereignty is an inalienable right and
cannot be contravened through colonial
elections, which is why the United Na-
tions has ordered the U. S. to transfer

pride and commitment to national identity,
to anyone who regards themselves as a
true patriot. We are Puerto Ricans and we
are proud. We are willing to fight for our
country. Is this so surprising? Would not
the vast majority of U.S. citizens say the
same thing? As the many popular ac-
counts of the Soviet invasions of the U.S.
(e.g. Red Dawn) suggest, U.S. citizens
would defend their country and resist the
invasion with their lives, even if it
dragged on for 90 years. We Puerto Ricans

I
I

'U.S. citizens would defend their country and resist their inva-
sion with their lives, even if it dragged on for 90 years. We
Puerto Ricans are doing nothing more, and have been for 90
years.

sovereign powers to Puerto Rico and al-
low the Puerto Rican people to decide
what sort of relationship we want with the
U.S. For any sort of elections to decide
about political status, the U.S. must first
decolonize the country.
When Puerto Ricans vote today in
Puerto Rico they vote for particular candi-
dates for a variety of issues, the vast ma-
jority having to do with national (i.e.
Puerto Rican) questions, and having noth-
ing whatsoever to do with the political
status question. On the other hand, there is
a popular slogan, not published or official,
but known to every Puerto Rican in the
world - "En el corazon de cada Puertor-
riqueno hay un independentista "(In the
heart of every Puerto Rican is an indepen-
dence fighter). What this means is not
surprising to anyone who feels a sense of

are doing nothing more, and have been for
90 years. While many U.S. citizens (and
apparently even some Puerto Ricans) do
not know this, it is certainly the case that
U.S. intelligence agencies do. If the
Puerto Rican independence movement
were nothing more than a "small vocal
minority" it would not be the subject of
continual political harassment and attack
from the FBI. Indeed the fact that the vocal
ones are in the minority is a consequence
of the long history of repression of inde-
pendence workers. A striking example of
that repression will be discussed by one of
its victims today at 7:30 in the East Con-
ference room of the Rackham building.
We urge all who wish to learn about the
situation in Puerto Rico to attend this
session. That includes you, Senor
VelSsquez-Rivera.

a
I

- I

k 4MitbIgaflIBadQ
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Disabilities conceal assaults

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor MI 48109

Vol. IC No.35

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Libeaebirth eraacontrol

THE UNIVERSITY'S Health Services
will make a new form of birth control
- the cervical cap - available to
women next week. But the procedure
which Health Services uses for the
dispensation of prescription birth con-
trol requires women to attend a two
'hour lecture before they can make an
appointment to get a prescription.
Although the cervical cap was re-
cently approved as safe and effective, it
simply adds to the list of birth control
devises which place the responsibility
upon women. Health Services dis-
penses condoms, however, without a
mandatory lecture and free of charge.
Because women are the only people
who must get prescriptions for birth
control they are the only people forced
to attend this lecture. The consequences
of a mandatory lecture are patronizing
and offensive, and it is a minimally ef-
fective way of educating people about
birth control.
When women seek birth control it is
a personal and serious event in their
lives which requires individualized care
and has different implications for every
woman. No one should be forced to
discuss these issues in an open forum.
One of Health Services justifications
for this mandatory lecture is efficiency.
They claim that because of the time
factor involved it is not possible for
women to have individual counseling

within the context of their scheduled
appointments.
This is an unacceptable excuse.
Through tuition, students at the Uni-
versity pay for health care. If Health
Services is unprepared to deal with the
individual needs of students it is their
responsibility to create a staff which is
large enough and effective enough to
provide personal, individualized care.
Another justification for this policy is
education. While it is necessary for
people to be educated about birth con-
trol, Health Services is doing a poor
job of it: only requiring women to at-
tend this lecture.
Not only does Health Services allow
men to be completely removed from the
educational process, it presupposes that
every woman seeking birth control is
uninformed. This serves only to alien-
ate women, and, combined with the
public nature of the discussion, could
cause women to not seek birth control
from Health Services.
Health Services could more effec-
tively use their time and energy to edu-
cate people about the issues which sur-
round birth control. Coordinating pro-
grams in dormitories or at orientation
for new students would reach more
students, and would also encourage
men to become educated about birth
control.
Birth control should be dispensed
free of charge and without mandatory
lectures.

By Patricia Krohn
During court proceedings, a blind
woman was not allowed to touch the face
of her assailant in order to identify him.
The assailant went free.
A man, severely disabled with Cerebral
Palsy, was sexually assaulted by his
personal care assistant. He never told any-
one. He was afraid that he would have to
go back into a nursing home.
A mentally retarded woman tried to tell
about the neighbor who was touching her
on her "private parts." She wanted him to
stop. The people she told found it
"difficult to believe."
Sexual assault is a common experience
of people who have disabilities. While the
reporting rates tend to be low, the Seattle
Rape Relief Project found that 75 percent
of the disabled people they studied had
been sexually assaulted at least once. Of
these, 99 percent of the time, the assailant
was known to the survivor. There has
been little attention given to the problem
of sexual assault of persons with disabili-
ties.
Much of the invisibility of the victim-
ization comes from the lack of informa-
tion about sexual assault of people with
disabilities. Crime statistics do not reflect
the disability as they do other demographic
features, such as age, gender, and race. The
numbers are lost and so the reality of the
issue goes unrecognized.
Additionally, there are numerous disin-
centives for persons who have disabilities
to report the sexual assault. All the factors
that keep non-disabled women from
reporting also effect people with disabili-
ties. The perceived lack of criminal justice
Patricia Krohn is Director of the Washt-
enaw County Assault Crisis Center.

response, the victim blaming, and the
feelings of guilt and responsibility for the
assault, make reporting difficult: For peo-
ple with disabilities, the focus becomes
their disability rather than the crime that
was committed. Added to the victim
blaming, the blame is placed on the dis-
ability itself as the factor for the assault.
The blind woman may, indeed, be able
to identify her assailant by touching his
face. Although the means for identification
may be different from those who rely on
vision, it is an ability that she possesses.
Reporting sexual assault is especially
difficult for the person with a disability

the truth of what she says or the reality of
the sexual assault.
To begin to address the problem, ser-
vices for sexual assault prevention and ed-
ucation should be available for persons
who are differently abled. Workshops and
classes are commonly held in inaccessible
places, making it impossible for some
people to attend. The lack of transporta-
tion is also a contributing barrier to full
utilization of these programs. More
educational material on sexual assault
needs to be modified to address the unique
or special needs that a disabled person
might have. Self-defense courses can be

'For people with disabilities, the focus becomes their disability
rather than the crime that was committed. Added to the victim

blaming, the blame is placed on
for the assault.'

the disability itself as the factor

q

who is assaulted by the personal care at-
tendant. The ability to live independently
is called into question as a result of the
sexual assault. The very real fear of insti-
tutionalization influences the reporting of
the sexual assault. When the proposed so-
lution is to remove the person with the
disability from the community, it counters
the fact that they have abilities that make
them important, contributing members. It
also negates the fact that the places tradi-
tionally available to "protect" the disabled,
such as nursing homes, group homes,
etc., have historically been. sources of
abuse.
The woman who is mentally retarded is
well aware of her experience. She may use
language that is familiar to her in talking
about the assault, rather than using
"proper terms." But that does not diminish

designed for persons with disabilities. Al-
ternatives to standard moves that accom-
modate and emphasize the abilities of the
person are difficult to explore but can be
developed with an understanding of
disabilities.
The risks for sexual assault are not just
the result of the disability as some would
believe. It is the outcome of an assailant's
power over the victim in an environment
of secrecy. To break the secrecy, the per-
son with the disability needs to be be-
lieved, needs to be see as credible. People
with disabilities need to have greater ac-
cess to educational information, to support
services, and access to recourse through
the criminal justice system. Together,
centers for independent living and rape cri-
sis centers can get the word out and begin
to move toward the remedies.

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Education
about rape
To the Daily:
At least three rapes have oc-
curred in the past two weeks,
and the police have suggested a
connection between at least
two of the rapes. Yet only a
handful of people are aware of
this and more importantly,
fewer are aware of the implica-
tion of that statement, in re-
gards to women's personal
0 'af-t

tails to this topic.
Another reason that this is
being kept quite is to protect
the University, our precious
university. The University
doesn't want its name associ-
ated with something as horrible
as rape, despite its occurrence.
Additionally publicity would
cause the University to ac-
knowledge a problem that it
has tried to deny for so long.
Now is the time for the
community to become mobi-
lized to try and achieve mean-
ingful change, that will make
all of our lives better.

be done, women shouldn't have
to live in fear.
-Pamela Linnemann
October 22
Vote for
right to
choose
To the Daily:
I am sick of hearing how
people don't want their tax
dollars spent on something
they are morally against. I am
morally against my tax dollars
going towards weapon's re-

oppression of human rights
that is most obviously sexist
but also socio-economically
biased. Will their (those
"morally opposed" individuals)
consciences be appeased when
these unwanted children are
abandoned at birth in a trash
hopper or are abused and ne-
glected as they grow? And yes,
"unwanted"is the correct word.
The infamous "5-year waiting
lists" to adopt infants are due
to the high demand for healthy,
white children. You and i
know that in most cases, wel-
fare mothers are most likely
not going to produce a healthy,

VA$ tDA SIG D AMX
\ INAVS SM DW ES

I

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