• The San Juan Daily Star

‘Statehood is not a cure, it is death’

Members of political and social organizations marched to the Capitol in Puerta de Tierra on Sunday to demand Puerto Rico’s decolonization and repudiate statehood as an option for solving the island’s 123-year-old political status issue. (Photo by Pedro Correa Henry)

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special for The Star

Members of political and social organizations marched Sunday from the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park to the Capitol in Puerta de Tierra to demand Puerto Rico’s decolonization and repudiate statehood as an option for solving the island’s 123-year-old political status issue.

The demonstration, called “No to Statehood; Yes to Decolonization,” brought out both pro-independence and pro-sovereignty advocates to protest against the efforts from the pro-statehood movement to push the island’s annexation to the United States, such as the “Yes/No to Statehood” plebiscite, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act penned by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), and the six shadow delegates to Congress elected last May.

“We understand that all of these efforts are illegitimate, as 52% of voters over 48% of voters, in an electoral event that only 25% of active voters participated, is not a real majority,” said Eugenio Hopgood Dávila, the spokesman for the demonstration.

“This is something that even congresspeople have been questioning, as they deemed that majority fragile,” Hopgood Dávila added, noting that the former plebiscite cannot be compared to the Washington, D.C. statehood referendum in 2016, where 79% of the voters of the District of Columbia voted in favor of becoming a state of the union.

“Washington, D.C. is not an ethnically different country, it is like Baltimore, like Virginia; we are different from them,” he said. “Statehood is not legitimate, it does not decolonize, it is not a cure, it is death. Puerto Rico as it is today would die.”

At the protest march, which also commemorated Puerto Rican Pro-Independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos’ birthday, broad sovereignty and independence sectors joined forces for the first time in a demonstration to demand the end of the island’s colonial status, Hopgood Dávila said.

The collective organizing the event includes the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish acronym), the Puerto Rican Front, the National Hostosian Independence Movement, the Sovereignist Union Movement, the Sovereignty Dialogue Movement and VAMOS.

“We are going to show Congress, at this time when they are discussing bills on the status of our country, the president of the United States, the people of Puerto Rico and the whole world that we are firmly opposed to statehood, that we do not accept the colonial regime and that we want, once and for all, to be owners of our country,” Hopgood Dávila said.

The demonstration included an artistic-political event at the Plaza de la Democracia at the North Wing of the Capitol, where the Declaration of the March, a document against statehood and against colonialism that was endorsed by prominent political and cultural figures, was read by PIP Youth leader Gabriel Casal and Women’s Affairs Secretary Adriana Gutiérrez Colón.

“We reject the illegal solution that is the definite annexation as a U.S. state being imposed on Puerto Rico based on mere arithmetic, voter majorities that are subject to colonial dependence,” Casal said.

Meanwhile, Gutiérrez Colón said that as Puerto Rico’s political status is being discussed in Washington, “we raise our voices to send one clear and strong message to U.S. Congress leaders, to President Joe Biden, and to the world: Puerto Rico does not wish for or accept statehood.”

“Long live Puerto Rico always! Say yes to the Boricua Nation, say yes to Puerto Rico’s decolonization!” the two young pro-independence leaders shouted.

Simultaneously, other demonstrations of support coordinated by the Boricua Independence Front were held in New York, Florida and elsewhere in the mainland U.S.

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