A NEW APPROACH
Right to Democracy is a project co-founded by Adi Martínez Román and Neil Weare that seeks to overcome historic obstacles to change through a new approach that unites rather than divides. We aim to build a real movement focused on confronting and dismantling the undemocratic colonial framework governing people in U.S. territories.
Adi and Neil are co-founding Right to Democracy because they believe that their work will be stronger together, more than just the sum of their individual experiences and expertise. By combining together community engagement and participatory methods with national-level litigation and policy advocacy, Adi and Neil believe a new reckoning on colonialism in U.S. territories is possible.
The strength of Right to Democracy’s new approach is grounded in the values it centers as part of all its work.
We Build Common Ground by working collectively with people from diverse perspectives to improve understanding, co-create new meanings, and leverage collective power to achieve a common objective.
We Respect Differences by listening with an open mind, empathizing with lived experiences, acknowledging power dynamics, and treating everyone with dignity.
We Provoke Change through strategies that demand increased engagement, action, and accountability.
We Stay Focused on our mission by leveraging our collective knowledge and experiences to address system-level challenges.
- We Avoid Toxicity through an approach that focuses on working together in good faith, shifts away from zero-sum politics, and centers on our shared goals.
Right to Democracy’s values are also reflected in the goals it is focused on achieving.
Bring about a reckoning to address 125 years of colonialism and undemocratic governance in U.S. territories.
Overrule the Insular Cases and dismantle the racist colonial framework they established in order to advance self-determination and equality for the 3.6 million people living in U.S. territories.
Build a coalition that unites rather than divides each of the five U.S. territories by bridging differences between people who disagree on political status or politics to find common ground.
Ensure the United States commitments to democratic principles and international law are achieved in U.S. territories by making decolonization a mainstream issue that demands action.
Center diversity as a strength in everything we do by co-creating meaning together.
WHAT DOES OUR NAME MEAN
Right to Democracy is a name that presents two reinforcing ideas.
One one level, our name centers the idea that everyone has a basic right to democracy, and that a right to democracy can mean different things to different people.
For example, a Right to Democracy in U.S. territories could mean:
a right to decide the laws one must follow
a right to develop one’s economy and infrastructure
a right to defend one’s culture and identify
a right to decolonization
a right to demand justice and equality
a right to determine one’s own destiny
a right to defend one’s land and environment
At another level, our name focuses on the importance of getting right to democracy, or put another way, getting straight to democracy. Many of the most pressing issues facing people in U.S. territories are directly connected to the lack of political power and self-determination in these communities. We believe Right to Democracy can be most impactful by addressing the systemic colonial structures that underlie these issues. Achieving this kind of structural and systemic change is a long-term project that we believe is a necessary complement to the critical work other organizations are doing to make progress today within the constraints of the current undemocratic framework.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Adi Martínez Román
Adi Martínez-Román has nearly two decades of experience working in community legal aid and empowerment. She is the President of the Board of Director of the Resiliency Law Center (RLC) and the Founder Director of the non-profit organization, FURIA, Inc., which focuses on empowering community leaders through participatory advocacy. Adi began working as and advocate for climate resiliency in 2017 as the Executive Director of the Access to Justice Fund Foundation, where she led efforts to increase access to civil legal services for the impoverished, then as Senior Policy Analyst in Oxfam American, and as Director of the RLC.
Before her work in the resiliency sector, Adi served as the Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Puerto Rico Law School for seven years, where she also taught courses on the Legal Profession, Law and Poverty, and Law and Social Change. She has been part of several boards, including the Board of Directors of Puerto Rico Legal Services Corporation, where she held the position of President for a year and a half.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico, and both a Masters of Law and Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas at Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (Spain).
Neil Weare, President
Neil Weare is a legal expert with a focus on the law of U.S. territories, having been raised in Guam and working for Guam's non-voting Member of Congress before attending Yale Law School. He is the co-author of the forthcoming casebook "Law of U.S Territories," which he has taught at both Yale and Columbia.
Neil has extensive legal experience, having worked as an associate at Loeb & Loeb LLP and Trister, Ross, Schadler & Gold, PLLC, advising non-profit organizations on a wide range of legal compliance issues. He also served as Litigation Counsel and Supreme Court Fellow at the Constitutional Accountability Center and clerked on the Alaska Supreme Court for Justice Morgan Christen, now a Judge on the Ninth Circuit.
During his time as a law student, Neil successfully argued CCJEF v. Rell, a landmark case before the Connecticut Supreme Court that recognized a right to adequate education for Connecticut schoolchildren. His commentary on various legal issues has appeared in the New York Times, CNN.com, Slate.com, and other media outlets. In addition to his legal accomplishments, Neil competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He holds a bachelor's degree in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College.graduate.
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