• The Star Staff

Groups look to push for PR’s decolonization, counter pro-statehood narrative

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Pro-independence and pro-sovereignty organizations, along with groups that describe themselves as politically unbiased, began a campaign Thursday that organizers said seeks to counteract the pro-statehood narrative coming from La Fortaleza and the resident commissioner’s office, and advocate for Puerto Rico’s decolonization.

Under the slogan “NO to Statehood and YES to Decolonization,” a march committee composed of eight organizations is mobilizing for a major rally to be held Aug. 15 on the San Juan Islet in support of ending the island’s colonial status.

The organizations include VAMOS, the Puerto Rican Independence Party, the Hostosiano National Independence Movement, the Sovereign Union Movement, the Boricua Diaspora Independence Front, the Puerto Rican Front, the Sovereign Dialogue Movement and the Greater National East of Puerto Rico.

NO to Statehood and YES to Decolonization Spokesperson Eugenio Hopgood Dávila said the rally would “forcefully express our rejection of statehood, reaffirm our national identity as the Boricua People, demand that Puerto Rico has a fair decolonization under international law.”

Hopgood Dávila also said the activity would coincide with other demonstrations in New York, Washington, D.C., and several other cities in the mainland U.S. inhabited by the Puerto Rican diaspora.

The spokesperson said the rally will culminate with the presentation of a Political Declaration endorsed by more than a hundred public figures representing broad political, social and cultural sectors of the country who oppose the island becoming a state of the union.

The political statement, presented by Puerto Rican Independence Party Youth spokesperson Gabriel Casals Nazario, stakes a claim for islanders’ right to self-determination and rejects statehood as a legitimate decolonization option.

“[Statehood] would be the death of the Puerto Rican nationality and the culmination of colonialism,” Casals Nazario said.

Hopgood Dávila said meanwhile that the pro-statehood movement, led by the New Progressive Party (NPP), has developed an intense campaign for years “aimed at convincing Congress and the political power circles in the United States that statehood is a desire of the great majority of citizens.”

“They have sought to back up this false narrative with rigged consultations, none of which have reflected a compelling majority in favor of statehood,” he said.

Moreover, Hopgood Dávila said, the participation of only 3.92% of eligible voters for the election of six shadow delegates to the U.S. Congress “confirms the lack of interest of a large part of the pro-statehood voters themselves in advancing that political objective.”

“Our goal is to let Congress and everyone who has doubts know that there is a massive rejection of statehood in Puerto Rico,” he said. “At the same time, we demand to get out of this colonial regime where the U.S. government imposed a Financial Oversight and Management Board that determines the fundamental decisions in our country in defense of the interests of the big investment funds, and not of our people.”

The announcement was made a day after Puerto Rico’s political status was the subject of discussion before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources during its second public hearing on the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act (H.R. 2070), sponsored by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (H.R. 1522), sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón (R-P.R.).