The Center for Puerto Rican Studies received a grant $ 1,238,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to study decolonization for Puerto Rico.
Yarimar Bonilla, director of the Center, expressed excitement and explained that they would be including academics, artists, and journalists in the project. “We plan to bring together a broad group of thinkers and creators from all intellectual and geographic communities in Puerto Rico to participate in collaborative research on the urgent problems facing our communities.”
The study groups will be evenly divided between people living in Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans living in the states.
Bonilla told El Nuevo Dia that the group would discuss free association. Free association is a type of treaty between two sovereign nations. Several countries, including Palau and the Marshall Islands, have Compacts of Free Association with the United States. In every case, the residents of these nations do not have U.S. citizenship.
Another topic will be whether the diaspora should be part of the decision-making process. Rep. Nydia Velazquez has previously argued that Puerto Ricans living in the states should have a say in the political status of Puerto Rico.
32 territories have already become states. The previous states have been involved in their fights for admission, since it is Congress that admits new states. Members of Congress for the states are the ones who debate a new state’s admission and make the decision of when to admit the new state.
However, residents of other states have never been involved in votes on whether a territory should become a state or not. And of course one state never votes on decisions made by another state. Including residents of Florida or New York in decisions about the status of Puerto Rico would be a historic precedent.
The intention, according to Bonilla, is to ” help influence the debate in Washington DC and San Juan.”
What is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and their initiatives?
Socio-political research usually entails surveys, interviews, focus groups, field observations and existing data. The quality of the information reported is highly dependent on the subjectivity of the groups involved; this study will likely be no exception.
Why yet another decolonization study?
– Plenty of information on Puerto Rico through past and present GAO reports.
– Recent DOJ response to HR 1522 and HR 2070 – was straight forward about Constitutional decolonization options.
– PR voters have repetitively chosen Statehood in democratic referendums.
– An attempt to eliminate, delayed, counteract and/or detour the will of the Puerto Rico electorate?
The ongoing attempts to bypass and silence Puerto Rico Statehood only serve to energize its supporters, in Puerto Rico and the mainland.
One can only be reminded of the story… As Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention, he was reportedly asked what kind of government the founders proposed. He replied,” A republic, if you can keep it…”
We must continue to uphold our constitutional rights, and our congressional representatives accountable. It is passed time to mark up HR 1522 and S780.