The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization is set to review a resolution presented by Cuba advocating for Puerto Rico´s right to self-determination and sovereignty.
Puerto Rican pro-independence political organizations held marches in support of the resolution this weekend.
The UN approved the United States sponsored proposal to establish Puerto Rico as a commonwealth in 1953, but this is not the first time that the UN Committee on Decolonization has addressed the issue of the island nation´s independence.
The resolution was presented by Cuba with additional support from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia. The resolution´s text emphasizes regional character and interest for Puerto Rican independence and advocates for the release of Puerto Rican Independence fighter Oscar López Rivera, who has spent 33 years incarcerated in the United States.
The United Nation´s Special Decolonization Committee was created in1960, following the Cuban revolution and the entry of 16 liberated African nations to the UN. The General Assembly then adopted Resolution 1514 (XV), proclaiming "the need to remedy immediately and unconditionally the colonial situation in all its forms and manifestations”. The Resolution went on to insist that “steps must be taken to transfer all the power to all the peoples and all the territories which have not gained their independence.”
Edwin González, representative of Puerto Rico's Mission in Cuba, publicly thanked Cuba for leading the motion, stating that "when the issue of Puerto Rico is presented in any international arena, Cuba will always be there facilitating the process". González also celebrated the declarations made by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) this January which took note of the resolution being brought to the UN.
The UN´s decision could ratify Puerto Rico´s right to independence, requiring the United States to create a path toward the island´s national sovereignty.
Last year, Puerto Rico organized a controversial non-binding referendum which rejected the current status of the island. The process was criticized by then Governor-elect Alejandro García Padilla of the centre-left Popular Democratic Party, who argued that voters were given limited options to select their preferred status. Over 25% of ballots on preferred status were left blank.Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner to the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, testified before the UN Special Committee on Decolonization last week. Pierluisi insisting that the current status had lost legitimacy amongst Puerto Ricans, and that “the only path forward is statehood or nationhood.”