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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

OAS has yet to issue ruling on Puerto Rico equal voting case filed in 2006

By The Star Staff

For the past 16 years, the Organization of American States (OAS) has had before it a complaint that seeks voting rights for Puerto Rico in the U.S. presidential elections, but after holding a hearing in 2018, the OAS has yet to issue a ruling.

“You don’t dare to resolve,” pro-statehood advocate and lawyer Gregorio Igartúa wrote in a letter to OAS Secretary General Luis Leonardo Almagro.

The case is Igartua et. al. v United States #13.154-Pet. 776-06, which has been pending final disposition since 2006.

The petition filed by Igartúa involves a demand to achieve equality in voting rights in federal elections for over 3 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.

The OAS held a hearing on the petition in Boulder, Colorado in 2018, 12 years after the original filing. The complaint accuses the United States of violating international law by denying voting rights to Puerto Rico in federal elections.

Igartúa has written several times since the hearing to request a final disposition of the case this year without further delays, as legally required in cases involving the protection of due process rights.

Also overdue is an order by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR) of the OAS to the United States to take the required affirmative action to end the discriminatory denial.

Igartúa said the commission appears to be afraid.

“Apparently Mr. Almagro, after 16 years it seems that for unknown reasons the ICHR of the OAS does not dare to dispose of the Complaint,” Igartúa said in the letter.

The letter comes three months after the Puerto Rico Status Act, which seeks to resolve its territorial status and its relationship to the U.S. through a federally binding plebiscite, was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even though the House passed the bill in December, the Senate never scheduled a floor vote for it, restarting the process of getting the act approved under a new Congress.

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