Cuba presents resolution at U.N. demanding Puerto Rico's right to self-determination and independence

NEW YORK, June 18, 2018.- “Cuba reaffirms the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico...", reiterated today the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, Ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, during the consideration of the question of Puerto Rico by the United Nations Committee on Decolonization.

The island's diplomat reviewed the history of the Puerto Rican people, that was imposed more than 61 years ago the misnamed Commonwealth status, granting the U.S. Congress full authority and powers over Puerto Rico in matters such as defense, international relations, foreign trade and monetary policy. She argued that this was merely a maneuver to mask an act of clear colonial domination, recognized by the United States Supreme Court, Congress and its Government itself in 2016, noting that the Caribbean island lacks sovereignty of its own and is completely subject to the powers of Washington, in other words, it is an American possession, a colonial territory.

She also referred to the economic and social situation of the island, with a depressed economy and a public debt of more than $72 billion, which is impossible to pay without dramatically sacrificing the quality of basic education, health and security services to the population, which has been aggravated by the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria that struck the territory in September 2017.

Rodriguez Camejo reiterated that the final solution to Puerto Rico's fate is not an internal United States issue, but a matter for the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and the entire international community.

She reiterated Cuba's unequivocal commitment to the self-determination and independence of the brotherly people of Puerto Rico, based on a relationship of deep historical roots and a common struggle of more than a century.

The Cuban representative once again called on the United Nations Decolonization Committee to fulfill its duty to support Puerto Rico in its yearnings for independence and freedom, which have not been snatched away by 120 years of U.S. colonial rule. (Cubaminrex-Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations)

 

Statement by Ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations in the Decolonization Committee. New York, 18 June 2018.

SUBJECT: THE QUESTION OF PUERTO RICO

Mr. Chairman,

This Committee is honored to have Oscar López Rivera once again among us, who is a fighter against colonialism, for the self-determination and independence of his people, and represents the resistance, nobility, pride and courage of the Puerto Rican people. Imprisonment for more than 35 years in U.S. jails could not bend this man of great stature for his dignity and dedication to his homeland: Puerto Rico.

We offer Oscar a most cordial welcome, as well as the large representation accompanying him from the sister Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Please accept, Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, the fraternal greetings of the Cuban Government and people who, after learning of the devastating damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 to the land of Puerto Rico, offered their solidarity, which unfortunately was prevented by the very power that maintains colonial rule over the island.

Mr. Chairman,

More than 61 years ago Puerto Rico was imposed the misnamed status of Commonwealth or freely associated State, which is in no way a state and far less free, as the U.S. Congress exercises full authority and is provided with full powers over Puerto Rico in matters such as defense, international relations, foreign trade and monetary policy, among others.

This sui generis category was made to create a screen and disguise an act of clear colonial domination.

The political farce mounted more than half a century ago and denounced by the Puerto Rican patriots and those of us who support their cause was dismantled in 2016 by the Supreme Court of the United States, the Congress and even the Government of that country, when they clearly and unequivocally pointed out that Puerto Rico lacks its own sovereignty and is completely subject to the powers of Washington, which means that it is an American possession, a colonial territory.

Despite the rejection expressed by the majority of the Puerto Rican people on 6 November 2012 of their current status of political subordination, there has been no progress whatsoever in their colonial situation.

On 11 June 2017, another farce was staged by means of an alleged consultation on self-determination options. In clear evidence of rejection by the various political forces in Puerto Rico, only 23 per cent of voters participated in this consultation, which was not really a legitimate exercise of self-determination, for it was not designed to promote decolonization in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960.

Mr. Chairman,

Since our last debate in this Committee to date, the economic and social situation in Puerto Rico has aggravated enormously. The country faces a depressed economy and a public debt of more than $72 billion, which is impossible to pay without dramatically sacrificing the quality of basic education, health and security services to the population. The Fiscal Supervisory Board imposed by the United States Government has implemented draconian austerity and expenditure control measures.

The serious economic situation of Puerto Rico worsened after hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. These phenomena revealed the deterioration and weakness in the electrical, water, road and telecommunications infrastructure of the island. Additionally, the cash deficit in the public coffers and the slow response of the colonial government deepened the emergency and amplified the crisis, causing a huge disruption in all aspects of the life of the Puerto Rican people.

The political subordination of this Caribbean island to the United States impedes sovereign decision-making over the crisis resulting from the effects of these two hurricanes, which have aggravated the already serious economic and social problems and increased poverty levels from 45 to around 60% of the population. This has caused massive migration and seriously affected efforts to achieve sustainable economic development in Puerto Rico.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba reaffirms the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico.

The definitive solution to Puerto Rico's fate is not an internal United States issue, but a matter for the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and the entire international community.

Consequently, at the Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held in January 2017 in the Dominican Republic, the Heads of State of the region gathered there reiterated the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico, took note of the decisions on Puerto Rico adopted by the Special Committee on Decolonization and reaffirmed that it is a matter of interest for CELAC.

Likewise, the Non-Aligned Movement, at its most recent Ministerial Conference held in Baku, Azerbaijan in April of this year, reaffirmed the right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence and called for active efforts to ensure that the General Assembly of the United Nations takes into account the question of Puerto Rico in all its aspects.

Mr. Chairman,

At the last session of the Decolonization Committee, representatives of all Puerto Rican sectors, including those advocating its annexation to the United States, admitted that the colonial situation in Puerto Rico must be urgently resolved in accordance with the UN mandate.

Cuba has an unequivocal commitment to the self-determination and independence of the brotherly people of Puerto Rico, based on a relationship of deep historical roots and a common struggle of more than a century.

Our peoples were born in the Caribbean Sea. Together we were plundered and together we received African and Spanish blood, a mixture that forged our own race and identity.

The year 1868 marked the history of Cuba in La Demajagua and the history of Puerto Rico in Lares, with the nearly simultaneous beginning of our respective struggles for independence. More than 2,000 (two thousand) Puerto Ricans shed their blood on the battlefield of the Cuban scrublands fighting for our independence against Spanish colonialism.

By the year 1892, Cuban National Hero, José Martí, when founding the Cuban Revolutionary Party, expressed and I quote: "The Cuban Revolutionary Party has been formed to achieve absolute independence for the island of Cuba, and to aid and encourage that of Puerto Rico, through the combined efforts of all men of good will" (end of quote). Even our flags are identical in design and only exchange their colors.

In 1898 our lands, those of both islands, were outraged by the U.S. military invasion and occupation.

In 1948, the then young university student and later undisputed leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, organized the first Latin American Congress of Students in Bogotá to demand, among other matters, Puerto Rico's independence in face of the Pan American Conference. At that very moment, Puerto Rican patriots were preparing the 1950 nationalist insurrection: the Cry of Jayuya led by Pedro Albizu Campos.

Mr. Chairman,

More than 120 years of colonial rule have not been enough to take away from the people of Puerto Rico their culture, identity, language and national sentiments. This fact alone proves the inalienable vocation for independence deeply rooted in this Latin American and Caribbean island. All these years of resistance and continued struggle give them the right to hope. The United Nations Decolonization Committee should fulfill its duty to support this people in their yearnings for independence and freedom.  

Thank you very much.
(Cubaminrex-Misión ONU)

 

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