|MIAMI, FL - October 27 -The Greenpeace Ship MV Esperanza arrived at the Port of Miami this morning and was unlawfully denied docking rights. According to Greenpeace Director Rose Young, "The Esperanza was headed to Miami to take on supplies and to invite the public aboard to learn about the work of Greenpeace to protect the Amazon rainforest. But the Port of Miami is denying the ship and its crew access to the port and to their supporters."
Port of Miami officials allege that Greenpeace is "an undue security risk," citing federal charges against Greenpeace in a case pending in Miami. Greenpeace maintains that the charges against the organization do not warrant the Port's decision, and have repeatedly asked that the ship be allowed to dock near Miami.
"The Port of Miami has offered shifting, inappropriate rationales for keeping Greenpeace's ship from docking," added Young. "We can only conclude that the Port does not agree with Greenpeace's message and wants to prevent the people of Miami from hearing what we have to say. We are surprised and dismayed by the amount of resistance we have encountered from the officials in this seafaring city, to even the simplest of measures, such as the loading and unloading of supplies and crew."
Earlier this month, Greenpeace sought berthing space and Port officials said the Port would not allow any Greenpeace ship to enter Miami waters. Alan Farago, an environmental leader in Miami, said, "Using vague 'security threats' to intimidate and chill civic participation is an insult to our founding fathers, who were themselves branded security threats by the despots who ruled them for a time. Shutting out Greenpeace is a reversal of democracy and Miami's badge of shame."
"Under the American system of justice, we are innocent until proven otherwise. This is particularly true in the case of this bizarre and unprecedented prosecution," said Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando. "Instead of indicting Greenpeace for blowing the whistle on the importation of illegal mahogany from Brazil, our government should be intercepting the contraband and prosecuting the smugglers." Passacantando concluded.
Greenpeace's protest stemmed from the organization's ongoing work to protect the Brazilian Amazon and other ancient forests. In April 2002, Several miles off the Florida coast, two Greenpeace activists, carrying a banner that said "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging," climbed aboard a commercial ship carrying mahogany illegally exported from the Brazilian Amazon.
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. government has charged Greenpeace under an obscure and archaic 19th century law aimed at preventing boarding house owners from luring sailors to their establishments.
The indictment appears to be the first time in U.S. history that the U.S. government has prosecuted an entire organization for peaceful protest acts of its supporters. "Greenpeace will continue to work to protect the planet through peaceful and nonviolent means, even though we may face strong resistance," affirmed Young. For more information, visit http://www.greenpeaceusa.org/trial.