Puerto Rico Statehood Vote: Inconvenient Truth for United Nations

Puerto Rico Secretary of State Louis Rivera Marin exposes U.N. Committee of 24 proceedings as international ideological hegemony and institutionalized multilateral imperialism

Puerto Rico Plays Hand Dealt by U.S.

The government of Puerto Rico just sent Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin to the U.N. Committee of 24 to challenge the U.N. on re-inscription of Puerto Rico to the U.N. list of colonial areas. In light of the recent 97% vote for statehood, the call by Puerto Rico for restoration of U.N. oversight of U.S. measures respecting democratic self-determination for the territory is a fitting gesture for Washington and the world to contemplate.

Of course, Puerto Rico’s current Governor and Secretary Rivera Marin know the political status of Puerto Rico is first and foremost a domestic constitutional and political matter between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Still, lobbyists for the “autonomists” in Puerto Rico often persuaded the U.S. to delay self-determination as to statehood or independence by exaggerating the degree of sovereign self-government recognized by the U.N. back in 1953. If turnabout is fair play, using the 1953 U.N. decolonization narrative to hold the U.S. accountable in the U.N. is good statesmanship for Puerto Rico in 2017.

Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood elected leaders who now control the territorial government understand that the U.N. Committee of 24 is not a friend to democracy and freedom in Puerto Rico or the United States. Instead, the Committee of 24 is aligned with Iran, Cuba and other dictatorships that have an agenda of grievances against the United States. But for Puerto Rico to send its head diplomat to New York also is really a challenge to U.N. to take decolonization far more seriously, and not leave it to the anti-American cohorts controlling the Committee of 24 to turn its back on a 97% vote for statehood.

Neither the U.S. nor the U.N. should allow ideological hegemony to be imposed by the rogue nations that have turned the Committee of 24 into a rogue forum for some notoriously malcontent countries. It would serve the legitimate principles and goals of both the U.S and the U.N. to intervene and prevent Committee of 24 from using U.N. resources to practice anti-democratic ideological hegemony in the name of “decolonization.”

Secretary of State Rivera Marin was a profile in courage as he denounced the Committee of 24 for denying that integration through statehood is a valid decolonizing status that voters have chosen twice, once in 2012 and again on 2017. It is too bad the U.S. and the rest of the General Assembly lack the conviction to have supported recognition of the majority votes for statehood. Even if re-inscription of Puerto Rico on the list of colonies was not feasible politically, it is a valid issue for Puerto Rico to address.

U.N. and U.S. Unfinished Business on Puerto Rico

For Puerto Rico to re-open the issue of statehood is not anti-American or unprecedented in U.S. administration of what the U.N. classifies as non-self-governing territories. Three out of sixteen colonial areas and dependencies on the U.N. list of less than fully democratic self-governing areas are U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands). Those three small island jurisdictions have the same unincorporated territory political status as Puerto Rico, confirmed in the 2016 Sanchez Valle ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to be constitutionally indistinguishable irrespective of arrangements for local territorial government.

The fact that Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are not on the U.N. list is not due to the fact that both have adopted the legally meaningless name “commonwealth” after ratifying local territorial constitutions. Rather, Puerto Rico was on the U.N. list of colonies and was removed in 1953 because the U.S. was embarrassed that its last large and populous territory was classified as a colony.

The same day the U.N. adopted Resolution 742 prescribing the criteria for removal of a territory from the list of colonies, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 748 removing Puerto Rico from that list. The U.S. twisted arms to get Puerto Rico off the U.N. decolonization roster even though it clearly did not meet the criteria for de-inscription set for in Resolution 742.

Record Before Congress Beats Harvard Law Review

Harvard Law Review recently published a series of articles in the U.S. territories that purport to expose the discrepancy between Resolution 742 and Resolution 748. Actually that’s old news that cessation of U.S. reporting to the U.N. on its administration of Puerto Rico under Article 73(e) of the U.N. Charter in 1953 was a diplomatic sleight of hand by the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Indeed, the committee of jurisdiction over Puerto Rico in the U.S. House of Representatives recognized and documented the deficiencies in the 1953 de-inscription procedures in House Report 105-131, Part I, June 12, 1997, pp. 15-17, (See, also House Report 104-713, Part 1, July 26, 1996, pp. 22-23, pp. 55-56).

Like the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is not on the U.N. list of colonies. But in the case of the Northern Marianas that is because that territory was governed from 1946 to 1986 under a U.N. trusteeship administered by the U.S. but not under U.S. sovereignty.

When the Northern Mariana Islands became a U.S. unincorporated territory in 1986, it should have been inscribed on the U.N. list because, like the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana remains a U.S. unincorporated territory.

Statehood Supporters Earned Right to Say “I Told You So”

The lesson of history for Puerto Rico is clear. U.S. Public Law 82-447, enacted by Congress in 1952 to amend and approve a local constitution, was an expression of political will under a statute subject to amendment or repeal. Similarly, the idea that the “commonwealth” created by statute was a “compact” did not mean it defined a binding unalterable political status different from all unincorporated territories.

The local constitution and the “association” between the U.S. and Puerto Rico does not constitute fixed or binding constitutional or international law. It comprises instead federal statutory policy subject to a change of will and amendment or repeal, not a legally binding “compact” alterable only by “mutual consent.”

So the term “commonwealth” as applied to a U.S. unincorporated territory never had a meaning different than “unincorporated territory,” and the U.S. again expressed its political will rather than binding itself legally when it told the U.N. in 1953 that adoption of a local constitution was sufficient to remove Puerto Rico for the U.N. list of colonies.

The annual session the Committee on 24 is observed but not taken seriously by the United States, because it is a perennial gathering of blame-America first tyrant-run governments pretending to be morally superior to the United States. The C-24, as it is known among creatures of the U.N. institutional subculture, is currently chaired by Venezuela, certainly itself not a model Puerto Rico should follow.

Of course, the communist and fascist nations that control C-24 think Venezuela is a better model for government than the United States. That is why C-24 gave terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera the freedom to use its proceedings to propagandize for imposition of independence on Puerto Rico in defiance of the freely expressed will of the people. Like the Independence Party in Puerto Rico, Lopez opposes self-determination unless it favors independence, so there is no majority vote percentage of vote above 50% for statehood that Lopez would recognize.

C-24 Is Embarrassment to U.N.

As a global multilateral forum for the international community, the United Nations represents both the best and the worst of government culture. The U.S.-led coalition for the liberation of Kuwait in 1991 was the U.N at its best, stopping aggression in violation of international law and proving it could deprive dictators of the spoils of illegal warfare.

The General Assembly’s Fourth Committee on Decolonization and its rogue “Committee of 24” is an example of International bureaucracy at its worst, including the lunatic fringe apparatchiks who haunt the hallways of the U.N. and remind us of its unrealized promise of a new age of diplomacy.

Instead, the Committee of 24 is the dumping ground for corrupt dictatorial anti-democratic regimes pretending to champion the right of self-determination while pursuing illiberal extremism. The membership of the Committee of 24 reads like a who’s who list of anti-Americanism and totalitarianism, starting with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and so forth.

As such, C-24 was the ideal forum for Rivera Marin to remind the U.S. that decolonization has not yet been achieved and free democratic self-determination has not been respected as the U.S. promised in 1953. It also reminded the U.N. that the C-24 has become not only irrepressibly anti-American, it is anti-democratic.

C-24 is an embarrassment to the U.N. to the extent it still has a mission. By featuring Oscar Lopez Rivera C-24 even seeks to propagate the statist myth of heroic martyrdom for terrorists who claim to be victims, instead of asking for forgiveness from their victims.

One Comment

Guam Status: A Case of Arrested Development - Puerto Rico Report

[…] Rather than a U.S. conspiracy as Underwood alleged, that 1953 hoax was perpetrated through collusion of the U.S. State Department and the anti-statehood autonomists of Puerto Rico. Ending U.N. oversight served the political purposes of the U.S. and the anti-statehood autonomists, by removing the stigma of the last large U.S. territory’s classification as a colonial possession. […]

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