May 23, 2023
The National Lawyers Guild International expresses solidarity with labor activists arrested during a May 1 International Workers Day protest, and with a legislator under investigation for her activism.
Eva Ayala, of the teachers’ organization EDUCAMOS; Joselyn Velázquez, of la Jornada Se Acabaron las Promesas [the Promises are Over and Done]; and Josué Mitjá, president of UTIER [the electrical workers union] were arrested during the May 1 International Workers Day protest in San Juan, targeted for their valiant labor and anti-privatization work.
The consistent work of the three organizations they represent makes them likely targets for such repression: Se Acabaron las Promesas is a movement against the U.S.-imposed, unelected Fiscal Control Board (under the cynically named “PROMESA” bill) and for Puerto Rican liberation and decolonialization, in a context of rampant gentrification; EDUCAMOS is a not-for-profit teachers organization struggling to transform the union culture to serve the thousands of classroom teachers, in a context of massive closing of and disinvestment in public schools; UTIER is a union fighting not only for the rights of its member electrical workers, but for the right of the Puerto Rican people to a stable electrical grid, and accessible power for the People of Puerto Rico, in a context of privatization and unstable supply of energy.
Alleged to have crossed an unjustified and illegal blockade, which police placed outside the office of the Fiscal Control Board, the three activists will appear in court on May 24. The NLG supports dismissing all the politically motivated charges leveled against the activists.
Mariana Nogales, a long time NLG member and current elected Representative in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, long known for her support of protestors as part of the Brigada Legal Solidaria, and for her human rights battles against privatization, gentrification and corruption, is facing government investigation for alleged violations of tax laws. The charges are in obvious retaliation for her consistent work exposing governmental abuse. The NLG similarly supports dismissing all these politically motivated charges.
These activists should be lauded, not prosecuted, for rising to the defense of Puerto Rico as it faces this crucial historical moment.