UN Decolonization Committee to hear PR case for self-determination

Por The Star Staff

Two days after a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on two status bills, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization is slated to hear arguments today in favor of Puerto Rico’s self-determination.

As it does each year, the Special Committee on Decolonization is expected to pass a resolution demanding that the United States expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, as well as take decisions to address economic and social needs.

This year, the hearings take place just after the House Committee on Natural Resources held hearings on two bills related to Puerto Rico’s status. Chairman Raúl Grijalva said the fate of the bills was uncertain because the status issue is so divisive.

The first bill, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act or H.R. 2070, sponsored by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), would “recognize the right of the People of Puerto Rico to call a status convention through which the people would exercise their natural right to self-determination, and to establish a mechanism for congressional consideration of such decision.”

The other is 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.), would “provide for the admission of the State of Puerto Rico into the Union.”

Juan Dalmau, a former Puerto Rican Independence Party senator and gubernatorial candidate, said the UN hearing is different from the congressional hearing because the former has to do with Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination within international law.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that Puerto Rico has no sovereignty, but gains its political power only from Congress. In 1953, the United States asked to take Puerto Rico out of the list of colonies when the island became a U.S. commonwealth so the committee does not have jurisdiction over Puerto Rico. The United States does not send anybody to the hearings.

“It does not mean that once a resolution is approved, the U.N. will send a marshal to arrest the president,” Dalmau said. “It is more of a mechanism to make a public denunciation and force [the U.S.] to deal with the issue.”

He did not see any future for the status bills before Grijalva’s committee given the fact that one member, Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), brought up the fact that Puerto Rico’s primary language is Spanish, which the seven-term congressman said was incompatible with the United States.

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