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U.S. approves funds for referendum on Puerto Rico's status

PUERTO RICO STATUS | 16 de enero de 2014

U.S. approves funds for referendum on Puerto Rico's status

Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, a regime that means it is subject to federal law but has broad autonomy in handling its internal affairs. EFE/File

San Juan, Jan 16 (EFE).- The U.S. House of Representatives' approval of a budgetary line item to provide funding for a referendum supervised by Washington on Puerto Rico's status is considered historic by pro-statehood parties here.

Puerto Rico's representative in Washington and the head of the main opposition PNP, Pedro Pierluisi, told Efe on Thursday that this is "an unprecedented act."

Pierluisi, whose party is in favor of making Puerto Rico the 51st state, said that late Wednesday evening the House approved the allocation of $2.5 million to organize the referendum.

The funding has no deadline or time limit and is subject to the requirement that the funds also be used to inform and educate the Puerto Rican public about the different options among which they will be allowed to choose.

It is expected that the Senate will approve the budget bill sometime later this week.

The referendum will consult Puerto Ricans about their opinions on the island's relationship with Washington and will be conditional upon the federal Justice Department giving its approval, so that it can be guaranteed that the phrasing of the questions adheres to the Constitution.

Pierluisi made clear in an interview with Efe that if the current Puerto Rican government does not take advantage of the funding allocation to hold the referendum, his party will do so if and when it comes to power.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who is also the leader of Puerto Rico's other main party, the PPD, favors maintaining the island's status as a Free Associated State, or commonwealth, of the United States.

The United States invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War.

Island residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917 but they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.

Since 1952, the island has been a Free Associated State of the United States, an unincorporated territory with broad internal autonomy.

Fifty-four percent of Puerto Rican voters supported a change in status in a non-binding referendum coinciding with the November 2012 gubernatorial election.

The ballot consisted of two questions.

Sixty-one percent of those who answered the second question favored statehood over the other two choices: enhanced commonwealth status - the PPD's proposal - or independence.

But more than 460,000 Puerto Ricans who voted on the first status question did not respond to the second question.

Pierluisi is of the opinion that the only possible options for Puerto Rico's future status are U.S. statehood or independence.

  • 25 de abril de 2015 - 18:32 GMT #5. Jose M Lopez Sierra

    Another march in NYC, June 22

    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
  • 19 de diciembre de 2014 - 23:36 GMT #4. Jose M Lopez Sierra

    Descolonizacion de Puerto Rico

    Not true that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico

    The United States (US) government has made Puerto Ricans believe that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico. That is a lie. The purpose for that is to have Puerto Ricans fight amongst themselves. The plan has been a huge success! Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 116 years, and judging by the 80% voter turnout in the colonial elections, the majority of us has not realized that we have been lied to.

    In reality, there is only one option. The United Nations (UN) in 1960 determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Therefore, the only thing that Puerto Rico can do is to become her own nation. That means that the US must give Puerto Rico the sovereignty that the US illegally took away from her by virtue of the July 25, 1898 military invasion.

    Thus far, the US government has ignored the 33 UN resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. Instead, it has tried to hide these petitions, and at the same time appear to believe in democracy by pushing for plebiscites so that Puerto Ricans could decide between colonialism, being a US state, or independence (decolonization as required by the UN).

    The problem with the US pushed plebiscites are that they:

    1. don’t comply with international law that prohibits a nation to have a colony.
    2. don’t comply with international law that requires the empire to give the sovereignty it illegally took away to its colony.
    3. don’t comply with international law that requires that to have free elections, that country must be free first.
    4. have 2 options that are not permitted by international law- continuing being a colony and becoming a state of the country that has the colony. For the option of becoming a state of the country that has the colony to be considered, the colony must first become her own nation (decolonized).

    This is why we have to peacefully protest 3 times a year until the US government complies with the UN resolutions for Puerto Rico decolonization.

    José M López Sierra
  • 06 de agosto de 2014 - 19:13 GMT #3. Jose M Lopez Sierra

    Puerto Rico decolonization

    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
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