ACLU Condemns the Suspension of Senators From Puerto Rico Legislature

May 10, 2001 12:00 am

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SAN JUAN, PR — The American Civil Liberties Union’s Puerto Rico chapter today criticized the decision by the Puerto Rico Senate’s majority to suspend five of its senators for openly criticizing the majority’s legislative strategy in regards to Veiques Island.

“No elected legislator should be deprived of his or her participation in a legislative session for disagreeing with his or her fellow lawmakers,” said Janice Gutiérrez-Lacourt, Executive Director of the ACLU of Puerto Rico. “The senators’ suspension unconstitutionally deprives the residents of their districts of a voice.”

Earlier in this year’s legislative session the majority party proposed a noise reduction bill that strategically targeted Veiques island. The bill aimed to reduce the amount of bombing exercises performed by the U.S. Navy by establishing noise limits on the island of Veiques.

In an attempt at parody and to criticize the amount of debate concerning Veiques within the legislature, five senators from the minority New Progressive Party, presented an alternative bill that proposed a study of the noise produced by the “noise reduction bill.”

Shortly thereafter, Senator Kenneth McClintock of the New Progressive Party publicly stated that the noise reduction bill is a “ridiculous legislative strategy.” He explained that his party’s presentation of the mock bill was a direct criticism of the majority party’s approach for dealing with the Veiques controversy.

In retaliation for his comment, the majority members of the senate voted to suspend Senator McClintock and the other four senators from the New Progressive Party.

The ACLU of Puerto Rico is closely following the development of all the events surrounding the Veiques protests and is collecting data in preparation to file a legal complaint. The ACLU encourages every person who has been subjected to or witnessed a civil rights violation during the Veiques protests to call 787-753-4268.

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