UN Decolonization Plans Report on Puerto Rico

The UN Decolonization Special Committee will meet to consider the status of Puerto Rico on June 24, 2019. This committee, known as the Committee of 24 even though it now has 29 members, includes China and the Russian Federation as well as South American, African, and Caribbean nations. There are no members from Europe or from North America.

El Nuevo Dia quotes Maria de Lourdes Santiago, president of Puerto Rico’s Independence Party, as saying, “The unfeasibility of the ‘Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ‘ is becoming more and more evident.” She intends to be among the speakers at the meeting, as she was last year, when she called on the United Nations to “ensure a swift decolonization process.”

The United Nations has passed 37 resolutions calling for self-determination for Puerto Rico over the past 47 years. Other U.S. territories remain on the list of non-self-governing territories, but Puerto Rico was removed from this list in 1953 when the territory was given a measure of local decision-making power

In 2018, the Special Committee approved a resolution reading in part

The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples…

Recalling that 25 July 2018 marks the 120th anniversary of the intervention in Puerto Rico by the United States of America,

Noting with concern that, despite the rejection expressed by the majority of the Puerto Rican people on 6 November 2012 of their current status of political subordination, the political representatives of Puerto Rico and the United States have failed to set in motion a decolonization process that beings in Puerto Rico, in compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee on Puerto Rico…

Noting with concern that the present political subordination of the Puerto Rican people impedes sovereign decision-making regarding the humanitarian crisis caused by the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which have aggravated the already serious economic and social problems, resulting in increased levels of poverty in Puerto Rico from 45 per cent to around 60 per cent of the population, which has caused mass migration and seriously affected efforts to achieve sustainable economic development…

Noting that the Supreme Court of the United States, in conformity with the request made by the Department of Justice, decided in June 2016 in the case of Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, that the original and ultimate source of governmental power in Puerto Rico lies in the United States Congress, and that any limited concession of self-government to Puerto Rico may be unilaterally revoked by the United States Congress…

Calls again upon the Government of the United States of America to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that will enable the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, in accordance and in full compliance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the resolutions and decisions of the Special Committee concerning Puerto Rico, and to take decisions, in a sovereign manner, to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty, and the problems related to education and health, which have been aggravated by the ravages of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Read the full document.

The 2019 resolution is said to be similar. Speakers in the past have included supporters of both statehood and independence for Puerto Rico. China’s representative simply called on the Special Committee to approve the report last year. Other speakers asked why the General Assembly of the United Nations had not yet taken up the cause of Puerto Rico, and why Puerto Rico is not on the list of non-self-governing territories.

The United Nations has declared a goal of removing all the non-self-governing territories from the list — through decolonization — by 2020.

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