The Special Committee on Decolonization approved yesterday a draft resolution calling upon the Government of the United States “to expedite a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people to exercise fully their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.” The Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples requested that the President of the United States release all Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences for cases relating to the Non-Self-Governing Territory’s struggle for independence -– including two who had been imprisoned for more than 28 years. It expressed serious concern about actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters and encouraged rigorous investigations of those actions, in cooperation with relevant authorities. The Special Committee, also known as the “Committee of 24”, urged the United States Government to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques island and in Ceiba to the Puerto Rican people; respect their inhabitants’ fundamental human rights to health and economic development; and expedite and cover the costs of decontaminating the areas previously used for military exercises.
Introducing the draft resolution, Cuba’s representative said Puerto Rico was a Latin American and Caribbean country with its own national identity, and its long struggle for independence was deeply rooted in a sense of identity. Notwithstanding 27 resolutions and decisions approved by the Special Committee and the General Assembly, the people of the Commonwealth were still unable to exercise their legitimate right to genuine self-determination and independence due to continuing economic, political and social domination by the United States, the colonial Power. The Special Committee also heard 32 petitioners present the views of various Puerto Rican groups, parties and organizations. Many reiterated the Special Committee’s request that the General Assembly call on the United States Government to begin a just and equitable process to allow Puerto Ricans to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) and the Special Committee’s numerous resolutions and decisions on the matter.
Petitioners also called on the United States Government immediately to suspend the death penalty in Puerto Rico, which was prohibited by the Commonwealth’s Constitution. They raised concerns about racial discrimination and economic exploitation, disproportionate prison sentences handed down to Puerto Rican independence fighters in United States jails, the supremacy of United States federal law over local legislation, and the environmental damage caused by the United States industries and nuclear testing on Puerto Rican islands.
The Special Committee approved the draft resolution on Puerto Rico by consensus.
The full report can be found at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/gacol3193.doc.htm
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