NEW YORK - In times when the U.S. government acknowledges that the colonial rule over Puerto Rico has never decreased, today the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations will hear from over 60 speakers, including the Governor, regarding the island's state of political uncertainty.
As part of a session that is normally held every year, the 29 member countries that make up the Committee on Decolonization expect to approve—by consensus and for the 35th time—a resolution that defends Puerto Rico's right to self-determination and independence.
However, this time the resolution highlights that the American government is set to impose a federal administrative layer over Puerto Rico's government, and its mission—according to the bill now pending in the Senate—is to halt the island's economic downturn and restructure the public debt. This debt, along with the government's retirement system deficit, is of about $115 billion.
It also alludes to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, in which, for purposes of the constitutional clause against double jeopardy for criminal charges, it determined that Congress is the ultimate source of power in the island. It generally compared the federal legislative authority with the one the states have over their municipalities. As well as to the position taken by the U.S. Attorney general in this case.
"The feds have agreed with us," indicated the co-president of the Hostosian National Independence Movement (MINH, for its Spanish acronym), Héctor Pesquera.
Today's list of speakers is led by key figures of the island's political class, including Governor Alejandro García Padilla; Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz; and the candidates for governor from the New Progressive Party (NPP), Ricardo Rosselló, and from the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), María de Lourdes Santiago.
From the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Secretary General Javier Echevarría will read the presentation of the party's president and gubernatorial candidate, David Bernier.
"After the results of the 2012 plebiscite, this forum becomes more relevant due to the interest from Puerto Ricans to solve the colonial problem," indicated Rosselló.
Blow to the Commonwealth
Bernier, for his part, argues in his presentation that the federal Oversight Board's imposition represents "the first time in the 118 years of political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, that this country legislates to limit or eliminate the Puerto Rican government's exercise of powers."
The president of the PDP will ask the Decolonization Committee to "be a facilitator of action for a process that allows for the free and democratic exercise of the Puerto Rican people's right to self-determination, in choosing options that are clearly non-colonial andbased on the applicable international right and the North American constitutional experience."
Cuba, which recently reestablished diplomatic relations with the United States, will once again be the promoter of the resolution that defends the right for Puerto Rico to exercise its self-determination and independence, and it claims that the case return, as an independent issue, before the consideration of the UN General Assembly.
In 1953, the General Assembly of the United Nations excluded Puerto Rico from the list of countries without a self-government, relieving the US from the obligation of rendering reports on the territory.
The new resolution will also demand the release of political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, the full decontamination of old military lands in Vieques and Culebra, and it will denounce the federal Treasury's efforts to impose the death penalty in the island, among other things. However, with the exception of the references to H.R.5278 (which imposes the federal Oversight Board) and the decision on the Sánchez Valle case, it will basically be the same one as last year's.
"While we don't have powers, you don't have the determination to help us escape colonial rule," as will indicate the House Speaker for the PDP, Charlie Hernández.
PDP Representative Luis Vega Ramos, for his part, will state that "the UN no longer has excuses for its inaction" and he trusts "all sectors to be consistent in reclaiming the reactivation of Puerto Rico's case before the General Assembly, as well as non-colonial options, outside the territorial clause and that acknowledge our native and natural sovereignty."
In his speech, former senator for the PDP Marco Rigau, who is now the president of the San Juan municipal Legislature, will confirm that "saying that Puerto Rico has a self-government is a mythical hyperbole, it's wanting to live a lie. There is no self-governance without sovereignty."
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