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Biased Use Of The Freedom Of Expression

By Arturo J. Guzmán

September 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE SAN JUAN STAR.
All Rights Reserved.

A good friend of mine, a lawyer by profession, has sent me a copy of a message recently published in a local periodical. Had the author’s identity been omitted, it would have been hard to discern that it was written locally, and instead it could have easily been dismissed as anti-American rhetoric originating in Somalia, Iran or Iraq. However, the fact is that the message was authored by the President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, Mr. Jaime Ruberté.

For those of you in the Star’s readership that were not privy to this publication, the message can be summarized as covering two topics: The first deals with the subject of discrimination of Blacks in Puerto Rico, a theme that has been repeatedly brought to public attention by the local Bar under Mr. Ruberte’s stewardship in a manner that too often seemed designed to inflame rather than resolve the endemic malady of racial, social and economic segregation in Puerto Rico.

By addressing the issue of discrimination exclusively on the basis of race, Mr. Ruberté proves his own discriminatory nature by conveniently leaving absent the equally, if not more prevalent tragedy in our society of discrimination by reason of origin as can be ascertained by the daily experiences of so called "neoyoricans" that return to the Island, and legal citizens born elsewhere most particularly those from the Dominican Republic.

The second topic in his message is more alarming. By use of metaphor, he tries to equate our national war on terror, with practices allegedly taken in Chile a few years ago against government dissidents and terrorists. Mr. Ruberté blatantly substitutes Pinochet for President Bush and issues a virulent warning that under the subterfuge of the war on terrorism our constitutional rights are being trampled and threatened by the Bush administration, federal agencies such as, the F.B.I., C.I.A., and the new proposed Homeland Security Agency.

Mr. Ruberté goes on to state, "We express solidarity with the life and security of North Americans and all peoples of the world, but not with the state of terror they maintain in the world, which provokes this hatred against their government. We cannot express solidarity with the massacres they commit against the constitutional rights under the pretense of combating terrorism. He later continues, "the American people need solidarity with their victims but not with its armies that intervene with other peoples, pillage and kill with impunity to protect their interests, and then leave as if nothing had happened".

Contrary to his unbelievable self-assertion that his message is not political, the only thing made evident by Mr. Ruberté’s message is his rabid hatred of the United States. It is ironic that he should take advantage of the guarantees of freedom of expression vested in him by the Constitution of the United States, his American nationality and United States citizenship, to try and vilify the armed forces and particularly those who have lost their lives in defense of these same guarantees that allow him to vent his own inadequacies and frustrations.

Had Mr. Ruberté not been so evident of his political and ideological inclinations, and had he been sincere in his use of metaphor, he need not have used Chile and Pinochet for his comparison while conspicuously leaving absent the misery inflicted upon Chileans by Salvador Allende. He could have used a closer example by illustrating ceaseless violations of constitutional and civil rights that go on to this day in Castro’s Cuba. Or perhaps if he wanted to use a single example to illustrate discrimination and loss of constitutional and all rights, he could have easily referred to the genocide committed against the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega and his Sandinist regime who murdered, vanished and vanquished more than twenty thousand innocent people.

If Mr. Ruberté, is so concerned about our own civil and constitutional rights violations why not begin closer to home with those of fellow Americans who were murdered by bombs and acts of terrorism in Washington, New York, Chicago and Sabana Seca by advocates of Puerto Rican independence?

It is not my intention to question Mr. Ruberté’s right to freedom of expression, but instead to invite him to muster his legal savvy, to show some personal courage and resolve in his convictions and present the U.S. Congress with a declaration of independence so he can rid Puerto Rico forever of the injustices, inequities, and rights violations he associates with the United States and its armed forces which he describes as pillagers and murderers.

Finally, what I will question is the wisdom and resolve of all the members of the Puerto Rican Bar Association for allowing someone from a proven minority persuasion, who may be more adept at practicing law in Baghdad than under the American constitution, to define you as a group and to act as your President and spokesperson. Shame on Mr. Ruberté, but even greater shame on you!

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