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Puerto Rico government asks UN to reclassify island as territory

By on June 19, 2017

Puerto Rico Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín on Monday asked the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization for Puerto Rico’s return to the list of non-self-governing countries.

The United States was exempted in 1953 of reporting annually to the UN about the colony of Puerto Rico after the approval of the Free Associated State, or commonwealth status, and would again force the U.S. government to provide the annual report.

The UN committee, as it has other years, listened to a wide range of Puerto Ricans who appeared in most cases to defend the right of Puerto Rico to obtain its independence, among them the pro-independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was recently released from being jailed for about 35 years for his alleged involvement with the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which operated out Chicago.

Following his presentation, Rivera Marín complained that his time to depose had been limited.

“It is highly reprehensible that I was limited in my speech today morning at the UN Decolonization Committee hearing. I went to offer the official position of the Government of Puerto Rico, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, and I was silenced before my testimony was completed. This contrasts with the preferential turn given to Oscar López Rivera of speaking in excess of the time given other deponents,” he said in written statements.

The official also asked the international body, that instead of backing independence, to support the proposal to make Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state.

He affirmed that statehood has won the last two status referenduims held in Puerto Rico, and “with great respect we demand of this committee not to usurp the democratic expression of Puerto Ricans by adopting resolutions in support of the independence of Puerto Rico.”

“Independence no longer represents us and statehood or integration is a non-colonial status recognized by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV). In fact, last year the United States Government recognized statehood as a valid option in this international forum. We request that Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination be supported including the alternative chosen by the people in 2012 and 2017,” Rivera Marín said on behalf of Gov. Rosselló.

Regarding his request for the U.S. government to re-submit to the UN reports on the colonial condition of Puerto Rico, Rivera Marín said, “It is evident that the representations made by the United States of America in 1953, asserting that Puerto Ricans enjoyed…self-government, guaranteed by the alleged unalterable pact that such a relationship entailed, ended up being dissolved last year by all the branches of the United States Government,” he said.

In his speech, Rivera Marín also denounced the imposition of the oversight board that controls the finances of the government of Puerto Rico and defended the June 11 plebiscite.

He said that since the approval of the federal Promesa law, “the federal Congress has legislated, without representation of Puerto Ricans, an undemocratic board that has powers over the elected government. If that is not colonial, international law does not exist.”

Rivera Marín also asked the committee to validate the results of the recent referendum, in which amid a political opposition boycott and a 23% turnout, 97% of these, or nearly 502,000 voters, picked the statehood status option.

“In democracies, those who vote count, and that was the unequivocal result of our people. It is the duty of this committee, as well as of the Government of the United States of America, to validate this democratic process, which included all possible alternatives, including the current demeaning territorial, colonial, status. After all, according to Chapter 1, Article 1, Section 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, it is a fundamental right to exercise self-determination,” the official said when reading his testimony.

He also defended Rosselló’s decision not to wait for a second review by the U.S. Department of Justice on the alternatives of status and a possible endorsement of the U.S. Congress of the status referendum.

“We refused to postpone the consultation to decolonize Puerto Rico because we have already waited too long and the current colonial status has led us to bankruptcy and unsustainable economic and social crisis,” he said.

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