U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Juan R. Torruella suggested a boycott of American goods as a tactic to encourage Federal action on quality for the territory of Puerto Rico.
Torruella, the former Chief Judge of the Court and a Puerto Rican, made the suggestion during a Harvard Law School symposium Wednesday on the Supreme Court cases that defined Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Recognizing the likelihood of continuing the “interminable status quo,” Torruella opined that “the time has come to take some more noticeable action than in the past,” specifically through the use of economic action. Citing the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in the struggle for equal rights for Americans of African heritage and the Boston Tea Party as examples, he noted that “hitting the pocket book” historically has been instrumental to “bring about results.”
Judge Torruella further explained: “I believe economic pressure is a logical avenue to consider, because if experience teaches us anything, it is that when there is a just cause that the citizens can sympathize with, combined with national attention and economic concerns, the chances of ultimate success increase exponentially. Thus, because the judiciary and legislature continue to turn a blind eye to the present injustice, we should not be surprised if Puerto Ricans seek a more sympathetic, and powerful, audience.”
Turning to how his idea could be carried out, the judge acknowledged that implementation of such a plan is outside of his expertise. “But,” he added, “the suggested idea bears consideration by those in a position to transform it into action.” He spoke about an initiative that could include not just the almost four million consumers in Puerto Rico, but also the equal number of Puerto Ricans residing throughout the U.S., the larger Latino constituency and “others who may be sympathetic to the plight of the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico because of their own experiences with inequality.”
Torruella noted that he is a judge on one of the second-highest courts of the United States deciding cases of national importance yet he has never been able to vote for the president of the nation or voting members of Congress because he is a resident of the territory of Puerto Rico.
Read more about Judge Torruella here.