Monday, January 20, 2014

US Congress Funds Puerto Rico Plebiscite: Options? U.S. statehood, independence, and nationhood in an association

The U.S. Congress has agreed with President Obama on authorizing a plebiscite in Puerto Rico on the territory’s ultimate political status.

The final approval came Thursday night with the U.S. Senate’s passage of a bill to provide funding for most discretionary Federal programs through September 30th. Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.


Puerto Rico’s Elections Commission would be given $2.5 million for a plebiscite if its proposed status option or options would resolve the question of the territory’s ultimate status and are found by the U.S. Department of Justice to not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the U.S.

The possible options are U.S. statehood, independence, and nationhood in an association with the U.S. that either nation could end. The vote could be on one or more of these options.

The current territory status could not be an option because it cannot “resolve” the question of Puerto Rico’s ultimate status. As long as Puerto Rico is a territory, Puerto Ricans can seek statehood or nationhood.

Although the current status is often misleadingly called “commonwealth” after the name of the insular government, a “Commonwealth” proposal would not qualify for the plebiscite because, as Obama’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status has pointed out, Puerto Rico would remain subject to congressional authority under the Constitution’s Territory Clause under any “Commonwealth” proposal (that is not statehood or nationhood).

Obama proposed the plebiscite because the “Commonwealth” party governor and legislative majorities of Puerto Rico elected in November 2012 disputed the results of a plebiscite held the same day under insular law. Fifty-four percent of the vote was against continuing territory status and 61.2% was for statehood among the possible alternatives. Nationhood options split the rest of the vote, with 33.3% for nationhood in an association with the U.S. and 4.5% for full independence.

The Obama Administration had supported the 2012 vote, and the President’s spokesman said afterwards that the results were “clear:” Puerto Ricans voted to resolve the question of the territory’s ultimate status (choose statehood or nationhood) and a majority chose statehood.

Concerned that lobbying by Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla against the statehood petition could result in congressional inaction on the self-determination decision of Puerto Ricans, the White House proposed another plebiscite under U.S. Justice Department auspices. The Justice Department role would make it more difficult to dispute the results.



José M. López Sierra said...

Dear Partner,

Since the United Nations determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity, there is no longer a need for plebiscites. The solution is to give Puerto Rico her sovereignty.

But being the United States government does not want to, it continues to advocate the use of plebiscites to find out what Puerto Ricans want. Even if 100% of Puerto Ricans would want to continue being a US colony, Puerto Rico would still be obligated to accept her sovereignty to then decide what she wants to do.

The only thing these plebiscites are good for is to divide Puerto Ricans. A Puerto Rican didn’t invade us to make us a colony. When will we understand that we need to unite?

This is why we must peacefully protest at least 3 times a year until Puerto Rico is decolonized!

José M López Sierra

Will Baird said...

I do agree that Puerto Rico is a colony and its colonial status is wrong and ought to be ended.

I also happen to believe that a straight forward referendum is the right way to go. Either remain part of the United States or to become an independent country. And this ought to be left to the people to decide.

While I think the moral thing to do is to state 'end colonial status' (IE become a full member state of the US) or end colonial status (ie independence), I do believe dictating from on high from Washington would be and NOT having a referendum would be just as arbitrary and colonial, if you will, as when the US took Puerto Rico from Spain as a new colony.

Hence, I cannot support what you are proposing.

José M. López Sierra said...

Why does Puerto Rico have a higher voter turnout than USA?

Puerto Ricans have a voter turnout of about 80%. The United States (US) citizens have a voter turnout of about 50%. What accounts for this 30 % disparity? Could it be that Puerto Rican believe in democracy more than US mainland citizens?

Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States since 1898. Since that time, Puerto Ricans who have wanted to decolonize their country have been either assassinated or imprisoned. Many Puerto Ricans are terrified of independence for Puerto Rico as a result of 116 years of repression.

Since colonialism is always for exploitation, there are no opportunities in Puerto Rico for Puerto Ricans. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans out, than in Puerto Rico. Therefore, Puerto Ricans are desperate to find a political solution to our eternal colonialism!

Most Puerto Ricans believe that decolonization can be achieved through the electoral process. But the electoral process is ultimately under the control of the government of the United States. Since the US government has ignored 33 United Nations resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico, and it has maintained incarcerated Puerto Rico political prisoner Oscar López Rivera for 33 years despite worldwide support to free him, there should be no doubt that the US government will never allow decolonization via the electoral process. If it were possible to do it that way, we would not have it!

The better way to decolonize is for that 80% of the Puerto Rico voter turnout to instead protest in the streets to demand our inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and insist that the UN do the decolonization in conformity to international law. After all, colonialism is within the jurisdiction of international law and never under national law. That is why it is a crime against humanity to have a colony under international law, but not so under US law.

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

Should criminals be in charge of correcting the wrong they inflicted?

Puerto Ricans vote in elections every 4 years at an 80% level of participation. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States (US) government for the past 116 years. If the US government has the final say in what happens in Puerto Rico, what is the purpose of these elections? The purpose is to fool the world that Puerto Rico is a democracy.

The United Nations (UN) declared colonialism a crime against humanity in 1960. The UN has asked the US government 33 times to decolonize Puerto Rico immediately. The US government has refused. It says that Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States is none of the UN’s business. The US says that it is a domestic affair.

To appear that the US government wants to decolonize Puerto Rico, it promotes the use of plebiscites to determine what Puerto Ricans want. Doesn’t that sounds innocent and democratic? So what’s the problem?

To begin with, the international community already rendered its verdict and determined that colonialism is illegal. So to have a political status option in a plebiscite that favors maintaining Puerto Rico a colony of the United States is not permitted. To have a political status option of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the United States is also not permitted under international law. The problem goes back to the beginning of this article. In order to have free elections, the country must be free. So before these elections and plebiscite could be valid, Puerto Rico would have to first be an independent nation.

What people must realize is that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US because the US government wants it that way. That is why it has used terrorism to keep it that way. That is why it refuses to release the Puerto Rican political prisoner of 33 years Oscar López Rivera. That is also why it is ridiculous to believe that decolonization is a US internal matter in which the UN has no jurisdiction over. If we allow the US government to decolonize Puerto Rico, she will remain a colony of the United States forever!

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

US Congress is trying to deceive the world that it cares about Puerto Rico decolonization. If it really did, all it has to do is comply with the United Nations 33 resolution asking it to immediately give Puerto Rico her sovereignty.

The Second Oscar – Mandela March in New York City 2015

We will be having our 2nd Oscar – Mandela Protest March on Monday, June 22, 2015. We will start marching peacefully at 9 AM from Hunter College on East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, to East 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue. We will then go East (turning left) to end up at the Ralph Bunche Park on First Avenue (across from the United Nations).

We will be at the park until 5 PM. We will be giving out flyers and talking to people about who Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is. We will also be educating the public about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the government of the United States (US).

Most people don’t know that every year, usually on the Monday after Fathers’ Day, the United Nations holds its hearing about the decolonization of Puerto Rico. The petitioners will usually join our protest after this meeting.

The UN determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Since then, the UN has issued 33 resolutions asking for the US government to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government has ignored these resolutions. What kind of democracy is that?

The US government tries to keep these hearings a secret. What we are trying to do is to get them out of the closet. The UN is in its 3rd decade trying to make the world colony-free. Please help us!

Most people also don’t know that the United States government takes out 14 times more money than what it invests in Puerto Rico. But, that is what colonies are for!

This savage exploitation impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to provide opportunities for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans living away from Puerto Rico than in their homeland.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 34 years for his struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico. Since colonialism is an international crime, international law gives Oscar the right to use whatever means necessary to decolonize his homeland. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years for doing the same thing as Oscar. This is why we say, Oscar López Rivera is our Nelson Mandela!

United Partners for Puerto Rico Decolonization invites the public to be part of the tsunami of people that will be necessary to make the US government comply with the UN resolutions. These annual protests in Puerto Rico and at the UN are absolutely necessary, because, those who maintain colonies, don’t believe in justice for all!

José M López Sierra