Puerto Rico still denied self-determination
The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation has adopted a resolution urging the United States to establish as soon as possible a legal framework to enable the Puerto Rican people "to exercise their right to self-determination".
Similar resolutions, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence, have been adopted by the committee since it took up this issue in 1972. However, the US, which always proclaims itself a champion of human rights, especially in the Caribbean region, has ignored the rightful demands of the Puerto Rican people and defied UN resolutions.
The Caribbean island fell under US colonial rule in 1898, when it was occupied by US military forces. Since then the Puerto Rican people have struggled and sacrificed to preserve their identity as an independent people and nation. However, because of terrible repression and planned murder by the colonial power to undermine those who believe in independence, today the colonial status of Puerto Rico remains unchanged.
Puerto Rico has no control over its internal affairs. As a result, it cannot enter into treaties with foreign countries, nor seek UN membership. Democratic rights have been denied. Some 125,000 Puerto Ricans are listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as subversives and under surveillance. There are 18 Puerto Ricans in US prisons for political reasons, 14 of them imprisoned for more than 10 years.
More than 13% of the island's territory has been usurped as US military bases.
"Our citizenship, unlike that of American citizens, is partial, incomplete and second class", said Zaida Hernandez of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico. The US and its enterprises obtain an annual gain of more than $10 billion from Puerto Rico while, on the other hand, "more than 62% of Puerto Ricans belong below the poverty line", she added.
The devastating economic conditions on the island have led to increasing emigration. Four out of every 10 Puerto Ricans leave for the United States in search of work. There are 3.5 million Puerto Ricans living on the island and 2.5 million in the US. An overwhelming majority support the call for self-determination.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared the current decade as the International Decade of the Eradication of Colonialism. It is the right time to end colonialism in every corner of the world.
[From the Indian socialist weekly, People's Democracy.]