Esta página no está disponible en español.
Pesquera Raises The Flag
By Iván Roman
June 21, 2002
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- In the latest battle of Puerto Rico's flag war, the president of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party flanked by an angry crowd broke into a government-office lobby Thursday and put up the U.S. flag.
Carlos Pesquera, the NPP's gubernatorial candidate defeated in the 2000 election, led about 100 U.S. flag-waving activists through the streets of Old San Juan to the offices of Maria Dolores Fernos, who heads the island's Women's Advocate Office. A well-known supporter of independence for the island, Fernos had refused to put the U.S. flag in the lobby.
She was ordered to do so Tuesday by Gov. Sila Calderon, but by Thursday, she still hadn't done it.
Pesquera seized the opportunity to put it up himself. After a four-hour standoff, Pesquera pushed open the glass door, knocked down and jumped over some employees and journalists and put the flag in place. Two people were injured.
"If someone thinks I've broken the law, then they can arrest me," Pesquera said after blowing kisses to employees blasting him for his actions.
This is the latest of several clashes that began last year about placement of U.S. and Puerto Rican flags in public spots, including on light poles and at a chapel symbolizing opposition to the U.S. Navy's presence in Vieques. Those protesting Thursday charge the island's government with being disloyal to the United States. They say they fear its actions are pushing Puerto Rico away from Washington, making statehood harder to attain.
Police Supt. Miguel Pereira said he will have prosecutors look into filing charges of assault, destruction of public property and inciting a riot against Pesquera or other NPP activists whose actions were on videotape.
"There are enough charges here to go around," said Pereira, standing next to a Women's Advocate Office car parked in front of the building and left with dents and a smashed windshield after the fracas. "This is the leadership of a party inciting this situation. This is just incredible."
Calderon said Pesquera's actions denigrate the flag he purports to love and violate the freedom Puerto Ricans have fought to defend.
"It's obvious Fernos did not follow orders at the right time, but that does not justify Pesquera's actions that I and the people of Puerto Rico were just astonished by," Calderon said.