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.”