Washington - The UN Decolonization Committee meets tomorrow to consider a new resolution in favor of the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico.
The session is expected to be peppered with the debate regarding the island's fiscal situation and the crisis aggravated by Hurricane Maria.
More than 30 political and civic organizations would be heard tomorrow in the session, which coincides with a growing debate on austerity measures, the Oversight Board in charge of the island´s public finances and the deaths from the hurricanes.
After failed efforts to create a working group within the Committee that would seek a dialogue with the United States government and without expectations that the idea would advance under Donald Trump´s government, the Committe would re-approve recomending that the debate regarding the lack of self-government in Puerto Rico return to the UN General Assembly.
This would be the 37th time that the UN Decolonization Committee approves a measure in favor of Puerto Rico´s right to self-determination and independence.
The government of Puerto Rico, which in 2018 unsuccessfully requested the Committee to include an endorsement for statehood in its resolution, was not in the list of petitioners from Puerto Rico . According to a spokesperson, acting Chief of Staff Luis Rivera Marín -who in 2017 appeared before the Committee on behalf of the government of Ricardo Rosselló- had no agenda regarding the session.
"It is inevitable to highlight before the Committee that combination of inefficiency and contempt with which the United States has treated Puerto Ricans after the hurricane," said former-senator Maria de Lourdes Santiago, who will appear at the hearing as vice president of the Puerto Rico Independence Party.
In 2016, Santiago proposed and it was welcomed that a group of the Committee members promoted a dialogue with the US government to end the colonial situation of the island. But, the idea did not find support from the US government delegation before the UN. "It might hardly have space during the government of Donald Trump", said Santiago.
Wilma Reverón Collazo, co-president of the Hostosian National Independence Movement, said that the resolution to be approved tomorrow accentuates "the humanitarian crisis" created after Hurricane Maria and "the inconveniences of Puerto Rico to obtain help from the administering power".
Reverón noted that recently, in Puerto Rico, Ricardo Ramos, former executive director of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA), revealed that during the emergency, the federal government initially opposed to buying posts for the power grid outside the United States, and said that that attitude joins the refusal to receive diesel from Venezuela and equipment from Cuba to restore the power system.
The Puerto Rico Lawyers Association, an organization that, for decades, has proposed a Constitutional Status Assembly in order to lead a decolonization process, will declare through its first vice president, Edgardo Román that the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria and the weak federal response showed "the lack of necessary tools in Puerto Rico to face the crisis".
Despite the indifference of the US government and the wall established by PROMESA, which sank Puerto Rico in the current status of political subordination, Román said that denouncing the colonialism before the Committee "is always an important step".
Before the hearing, the Puerto Ricans United in Action (PUA, Spanish acronym) sent a letter to President Trump and the US ambassador before the UN, Nikki Haley, to encourage the US government to join the work of the Decolonization Committee.
Noting that the United States did a "poor job" in responding to the emergency caused by Hurricane Maria, attorney Manuel Rivera, a spokesperson for PUA and with offices in the Washington area, said the federal government "has been unable to move the economy "of the island forward and that it is time for" Congress to transfer sovereignty to the people of Puerto Rico."
Meanwhile, this week in Geneva, the UN's special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, will testify before the Human Rights Council that after PROMESA, which imposed the Board, there should be no doubt about the colonial situation in Puerto Rico.
Alston, who visited Puerto Rico between December 10 and 11, 2017, released his report on June 1, but he will officially present it to the Council on Thursday.
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