Friday, March 24, 2023

Berríos Proposes Plan to Decolonize Puerto Rico

By on January 14, 2016

SAN JUAN – Were it to be accepted, a proposal by the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Rubén Berríos, would result in President Barack Obama meeting with Puerto Rico’s three main political leaders to discuss the implementation of a process to deconolize the island.

The independence movement leader’s proposal, revealed Wednesday, recommends a meeting with the presidents of the Popular Democratic (PDP) and New Progressive (NPP) parties, David Bernier and Pedro Pierluisi, respectively, to coordinate a meeting with Obama to demand the implementation of a decolonization process.

Berríos also urged that a new status process should be initiated in tandem, including going to the next hearing of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization this summer and request the global forum act on the colonial case of Puerto Rico.

“We have all been presented with a great opportunity to solve our problem of status,” Berríos wrote, noting that the opportunity must be taken at this moment when Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and public debt worsen, and that Obama’s administration has highlighted that the political relationship of Puerto Rico did not change with the adoption of the Constitution of the Commonwealth.

The independence leader sent Resident Commissioner Pierluisi and Bernier letters in which he detailed his proposals, in which he says that from the point of view of the Obama administration, as well as that Puerto Rico’s, there are many reasons to create a path toward a solution to the dilemma of political and legal relations between the United States and Puerto Rico.

He argued that since the status process from 1989 to 1991 conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the will of Congress to establish a transition plan toward the political sovereignty of Puerto Rico was evinced.

He stressed that the restoration of relations with Cuba makes a new U.S. relationship with Latin America imminent, and Puerto Rico is important in that effort.

Although Congress approved language that allows linking the U.S. Department of Justice with a new status referendum in Puerto Rico, Berríos says the position adopted by the Obama administration before the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, forces it to make the decolonization of Puerto Rico public policy.

Berríos believes it would be a contradiction if Obama shuns a meeting with the presidents of the three political parties, who nearly unanimously represent the ideological universe of Puerto Rico.

He recalled that amid the struggle against military exercises in Vieques, then President Bill Clinton met with the presidents of the three local political parties, so there should be no reason why a meeting should not take place, which should result in the carrying out of a status assembly, he says.

However, Berríos left open the possibility of transforming Pierluisi’s proposal in favor of a “yes or no” statehood referendum into one that allows island voters to choose between statehood and national sovereignty.

Berríos believes that what he proposes is to include independence, “which is an inalienable right,” in the referendum as well as free or sovereign association.

By Ismael Torres


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