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Bar Association Asks Governor to Join UN Decolonization Hearing

By on May 14, 2016

SAN JUAN – The president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, Mark Anthony Bimbela, has sent a letter to Gov. Alejandro García Padilla asking him to participate in the annual hearing by the United Nations’  Special Committee on Decolonization.

The committee, formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, will convene June 20 in UN headquarters in New York.

Bar Association President Mark Anthony Bimbela

Bar Association President Mark Anthony Bimbela

“The Bar Association has been appearing before the United Nations for more than 40 years, explaining again and again the colonial status of Puerto Rico and its submission to the plenary powers of Congress,” Bimbela said in a statement, adding that the island’s parties have done so as well, “both those pro-independence and pro-statehood, and many members of the Popular Democratic Party.”

“This year, the hearing will be carried out in the context of the U.S. government’s admission in the case of People v. Sánchez Calle that the status of Puerto Rico is not solved and the power over its fate belongs to the federal legislature,” he stated.

“The only viable solution to break up the congressional plenary powers and force a national dialog is by participating collectively before the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations. A request will be made at said committee, from a pluralist position, that a decolonization process incorporating a Status Assembly as a decolonization mechanism be advocated before the General Assembly,” Bimbela’s letter reads.

In last year’s session, Bimbela noted that in a 2012 referendum, more than half of Puerto Rico’s voting population rejected the island’s current status. The committee was also told by more than 30 petitioners that Puerto Rico was in a cycle of poverty, brain drain and sluggish economic development caused in large part by U.S. trade policies.

The committee approved a resolution urging the United States to allow Puerto Ricans to “exercise their inalienable right to self-determination.” There reportedly are 34 UN resolutions asking the U.S. government to decolonize Puerto Rico.

Oscar López Rivera, who is part of the nationalist movement and has been in prison for more than 33 years for seditious conspiracy, was a central figure in last year’s discussion, with many calling for his pardon and release.

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