It won’t come as a surprise that the nation which holds the most control over the United Nations is, none other, than the United States. Obviously, being located in the U.S. is a factor but so, too, is being a part of the Security Council. Their heavyweight status at the U.N. has allowed the United States to remove Puerto Rico from the international agenda at the United Nations, by saying that Puerto Rico is an “internal matter,” even if it violated international norms.
In 1953, the United States flexed its muscle by notifying the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for formal circulation to its members, that the United States would no longer transmit information regarding Puerto Rico to the United Nations. The United States declared that Puerto Rico was a self-governing territory because of the creation of a Puerto Rico Constitution and the title of “commonwealth” provided by the U.S. In reality, the title of commonwealth was just another way to disguise its colonial status.
A vote ensued at the United Nations to determine if Puerto Rico should be removed from the list of non-self-governing territories. As commonly practiced by the U.S., they used tactics (bullying) to induce members to abstain from voting on this issue. The United States understood that if all the members voted, the outcome of the vote would not have been in favor of the U.S. It would have been in favor of the reality of Puerto Rico’s status, that of colony. But it’s hard to be one of the countries that votes against the wishes of the United States, even if it is the right decision, for fear of facing consequences by the U.S. As calculated, when the outcome of the vote was revealed, 22 members were in favor with the U.S., 18 were not, and 19 abstained from voting. As you can see, had the 19 members voted with their vote of “no,” Puerto Rico would not have been removed from the list of non-self-governing territories. Why is this important? Because then Puerto Rico would not be cloaked under the so-called U.S. “protectorate” umbrella, and the United Nations would have an easier time of intervening in matters relating to Puerto Rico to ensure that the rights of Puerto Ricans are not being denied.
Puerto Rico is not a self-governing territory, and needs to be placed back on the list of non-self-governing territories. The definition of self-governing territories by the United Nations are as follows, which Puerto Rico does not meet:
- National independence
- Free association based on separate sovereignty
- Full integration with another nation on the basis of equality
In 1980, the United States Supreme Court confirmed that Congress continues to exercise authority over Puerto Rico as a “territory belonging to the United States.” Puerto Rico needs to be part of the international agenda at the United Nations, like the rest of the non-self-governing territories to ensure a solution, which provides Puerto Ricans a voice on the matter. Moreover, they need to be informed on the ramifications of each option so that they are able to make an informed decision, versus one that is based on haste, manipulation, and intimidation.
The Koch brothers are now trying to take advantage of the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida by aligning themselves with a non-profit to provide assistance, meanwhile gaining all their personal information for voting purposes. Sadly, the value of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. is, solely, their vote, which has the potential to change the landscape in Florida, among other states. There’s no end to the hypocrisy of the Republicans, but where are the Democrats? The Puerto Rican vote is not a given, and complacency is not a winning strategy.
Our vote is for the future of Puerto Rico, and it has to be earned. Like the U.S., Puerto Rico wants and deserves liberty and justice. Including Puerto Rico at the United Nations, regarding the fate of their future, would be a good start.