U.N. Decolonization Committee Hearings on Puerto Rico

Each year, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization passes a resolution demanding that the United States “again expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, as well as take decisions, in a sovereign manner, to address their economic and social needs.”

This year, the hearings take place just after the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the fact that Puerto Rico has no sovereignty, but gains its political power only from Congress.

The Special Committee doesn’t have jurisdiction over Puerto Rico, because the government of Puerto Rico asked to be removed from the list of colonies in 1953. The United States took the requested action, asking the United Nations to remove Puerto Rico from the list covered by the committee. It was a controversial step, and it passed only narrowly, but the result is that this committee has no official connection with Puerto Rico. The United States does not cooperate with the committee and does not send any representatives to its meetings.

This year, however, the Governor of Puerto Rico has been lobbying for stronger action from the U.N. on behalf of Puerto Rico. His claims that the United States tricked the U.N. into removing the territory from the list of non-autonomous regions ignore the fact that the United States wrote at the time that there was no change in the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. The recent Supreme Court decisions merely echo the statements which have been made by all three branches of the federal government over the years: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

There are two simple solutions to Puerto Rico’s status issues: independence, which has never received more than s few percentage points of support in any of the status votes in Puerto Rico, and statehood, which received 61% of the votes for a new status in 2012. 54% of the voters in the 2012 referendum voted against continuing in a territorial relationship. The United Nations noted this at the time.

Neither Puerto Rico nor the United Nations can force the U.S. federal government into a “special relationship” with Puerto Rico. It is clear that the majority of Puerto Ricans do not want independence. Therefore, the most logical and reasonable path forward for Puerto Rico is the path of statehood. We are closer than ever before. The growing awareness of Puerto Rico and the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States within the Congress makes this the perfect time to make the change.

Tell your congressional representative that it’s time for statehood for Puerto Rico.

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