Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yet Another Bill for Puerto Rico's Status

A bill filed this month by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez takes a step toward resolving Puerto Rico's ambiguous political status by mandating a referendum in which one of the choices would be a little-known form of independence called "free association."

Under the free-association form of government, Puerto Rico would be an independent nation that would relinquish some sovereign powers to the U.S. in exchange for benefits. The specifics of that arrangement would be bilaterally negotiated.

Voters also could choose the current commonwealth status, statehood or complete independence.


Critics of Martinez's bill point out that it doesn't compel Congress to act on the outcome of the referendum, which could render it little more than an opinion survey.

But through spokeswoman Jessica Garcia, Martinez, R-Fla., said Congress would act regardless.

"Congress will be morally and politically bound to act on a Puerto Rican status choice if Congress authorized the choice," Garcia said after consulting staff. "[Martinez] will fight to implement the choice of the Puerto Rican people."

The senator said he will seek a public hearing on the bill early next year.

The proposed legislation is being hailed as a victory by the island's autonomist-movement leaders, who have long said it is possible for Puerto Rico to be a sovereign nation without divorcing the U.S.

"We have been working for years to achieve recognition of the free-association formula as viable for all of the parties involved," said Nestor Duprey, spokesman for the Social Democratic Autonomist Movement. "It gives Puerto Rico the political powers it needs to solve its problems, and it helps the U.S. in the sense that Puerto Rico would stop being a financial burden for its treasury.

"At the same time, it preserves the political and economic relationship between the two countries."

Free association is the type of relationship that the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau have with the United States. Each nation negotiated the terms of that association but yielded some of their sovereign powers to the U.S. in areas such as national defense and security. In exchange, the U.S. treats these nations uniquely by allowing access to domestic programs, including disaster response under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

So, now we have the possibility of Statehood, Commonwealth, Free Association, or Independence. You all know what I support. I am unsure whether or not the Free Association Option is such a hot one, really. It is interesting that this is a way to get around the constitutional issues that have been raised already. The question becomes though whether or not the Pacific Islands had a similar status in constitutionally as PR does now.

Doug? Care to way in? You probably know more than I do. For that matter Carlos and Noel do too.


Dr. Vector said...

Hi Will,

Sorry to post an entirely off-topic comment, but I lost your e-mail address. Your Map of Science poster arrived ages ago, but between moving house and going on vacation I forgot to let you know. I will be in Berkeley this Thursday if there is a possibility for a handoff; otherwise I can give you directions on where to pick it up on campus. Please write me at sauropod at berkeley dot edu.


Matt Wedel (aka Dr Vector)

José M. López Sierra said...

Dear Partner,


Those who accept colonialism believe in discrimination. Now that we know that the political parties will not solve this problem, I invite you to join the non-violent protest to demand that the United States (US) decolonize Puerto Rico (PR) immediately. It will be on Monday, June 17, 2013 from 8 AM to 5 PM outside the United Nations (UN) visitor’s entrance located on 46th Street and First Avenue in New York City.

The UN has determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity in 1960 under Resolution 1514 (XV). That’s why the UN celebrates every year a hearing about Puerto Rico decolonization. Every year the UN puts forth a resolution asking the US to decolonize PR. Despite 30 of these resolutions, PR is still the oldest and most populated colony in the world! It is obvious by now that the US is not going to decolonize PR just because the UN asks.

Through education, we must create a domestic and international solidarity with this cause to pressure the US to do what historically she has refused to do. This is why we need everyone who also believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity to join the protest to demand compliance to international law!

Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US for 114 years. The US’ intention is to keep PR a colony forever unless we do something about it. It is important to note that: democracy isn’t what a government does. Democracy is what people do!
President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” These ideas, of course, are the reasons why the United Nations was created after World War II.

It is up to us to defend the fundamental human rights that promote world peace. The tragedy of doing nothing is that we will have the kind of government that we deserve!


José M. López Sierra

For more information:
Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico

José M. López Sierra said...


We need to work together to decolonize Puerto Rico and free Oscar López Rivera. Join 2 peaceful protests until it is accomplished!

Un abrazo,