Logo
Line

Occupation Ends in Arrests but Ta�o Claim Victory in Boriken


      Utuado, Puerto Rico: After their arrests on Wednesday, August 10,
      Taino community leaders celebrated a victory in court on Friday,
      when a local Judge refused to give an order to prevent them from
      re-entering a state run archeological park they consider sacred.
      The court did find however that the Ta�o did not have the right
      to "exert dominion and control of the park", at least temporarily.
      A decision will be made on the issue of dominion at an upcoming
      hearing.

      The Ta�o occupied the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center in
      Utuado for over two and a half weeks to bring attention to island
      wide destruction of sacred sites and the lack of recognition of
      their rights as indigenous peoples.

      "The court basically is reviewing an injunction that seeks to
      temporarily or permanently prevent us [Taino] from staying over
      night on the grounds, which is a direct violation of our religious
      freedoms" said Naniki Reyes Ocasio, founder of the Caney Quinto
      Mundo. "The court and the [Puerto Rican] Institute of Culture view
      `dominion' as a form of possession so it is obvious that they have
      no concept of indigenous perspectives as they relate to those
      terms"

      She continued, "If the Institute had their way they would have
      barred any one identifying themselves as Taino from entering the
      park permanently but this did not happen".

      Reyes Ocasio was observing her 16th day of a hunger strike when
      she and two other community leaders, Guatibiri Baez and Juana
      Griselle Martinez Prieto, were arrested Wednesday inside Caguana
      Ceremonial Center. Martinez Prieto and Baez are members of the
      Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos.

      "Seeing those officers trotting down to us in rows of five was
      like watching something out of an old Western movie when the
      Calvary moves in to attack an unsuspecting Native village"
      observed Reyes Ocasio. With no arrest warrants presented, the
      three peaceful protesters were forcibly shackled by hands and feet
      by a 15 member special police tactical unit in full assault armor.

      Reyes Ocasio, Baez, and Martinez Prieto noted that the police did
      all they could to attempt to frighten and humiliate them. A
      previous court negotiation assured the protesters they would be
      arrested with their lawyer present and that Naniki would be
      provided a wheel chair as she was having trouble walking; a result
      of her long hunger strike. "They did not comply with any of
      conditions they agreed to in court; this was a well calculated
      assault with intent to harm us" she stated as she ended her 17 day
      fast late Thursday night.

      Three other protesters, members of the Consejo General, Elba Anaca
      Lugo, Taino Rosado and Margarita Shashira Mu�z, turned themselves
      over to the authorities on Thursday morning. They were outside the
      park at the time of the arrests. Charges were dropped against
      additional participants of the occupation.

      "Despite the harsh treatment, which even included a strip search
      of two of our community members, we are celebrating a victory here
      in Caguana for a number of reasons" said Reyes Ocasio.

      The action has reportedly been an inspiration to many Taino
      descendants around the island and beyond. A delegation of elders,
      leaders and youth now plan to take the group's concerns and
      petition to San Juan on Monday and deliver them to legislative
      representatives, the Mayor of San Juan and of course to the
      Governor.

      "We have exposed the Executive Branch of the Government and the
      Institute of Culture not only for failing to recognize indigenous
      rights but they are now well documented to be publicly hostile to
      the Taino People on the island" said Roger Atihuibancesh
      Hernandez, a representative of the United Confederation of Ta�o
      People.

      "The Caguana action is a victory for all Ta�o People as we have
      raised the issue of Ta�o rights, as well as the desecration of
      sacred sites, ancestral remains, and sacred artifacts to an
      unprecedented level here in Borik�" he continued. "We had regular
      coverage in local papers and our leaders were interviewed on radio
      and television throughout the occupation".

      "Whether the press has been favorable or not is not the point,
      what matters is that no one can say we have been silent on this
      issue" said Atihuibancesh.

      During the occupation local support gained momentum for the Ta�o
      as a group of prominent archeologists publicly supported the
      group's actions. Although they were ignored by Puerto Rican
      Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila, they were supported at the municipal
      level with a special proclamation by the honorable Mayor of
      Utuado, Alan Gonz�ez Cancel.

      As the group celebrated their victories in Caguana, many lessons
      have been learned and all the leaders remain extremely grateful
      for the overwhelming support they have received from the local and
      international communities.

      As Taino leader Naniki Reyes Ocasio stated while enjoying a well
      deserved bowl of soup, "this is just the beginning".


      
Line

Return


CONFEDERACY OFFICE
13 Highgate Gardens
Wildey, St. Michael
BARBADOS, BB14005
Tel: (246) 228-0227    Fax: (246) 437-2018
E-Mail

Copyright © 2008-2012 Damon G. Corrie

Site Index