Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Calling on United States to Expedite Puerto Rican Self-Determination Process

Draft Resolution Urges Probe of Pro-Independence Leader’s Killing, Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Clean-up, Decontamination of Vieques (excerpts).

(Issued on 13 June 2006.)

Acting without a vote today, the Special Committee on decolonization approved a draft resolution that calls on the United States to expedite the process to allow Puerto Ricans to exercise fully their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and return all occupied land and facilities on both Vieques island and Ceiba.

By other terms of that text, sponsored by Cuba, the Committee also expressed its deep concern over the intimidation, repression and other violent acts committed in the last few months against Puerto Rican pro-independence leaders and encourages an investigation into such acts.

After a day-long hearing of petitioners on the Puerto Rico question, the Special Committee approved the text by which it reaffirmed the right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence in line with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and Puerto Rico’s status as a part of Latin America with its own national identity. It also called on the United States to respect fundamental human rights in Puerto Rico, pay for the clean-up and decontamination of areas of the island affected by United States military activities, and address the ensuing serious environmental and health consequences.

As in previous years, the text before the Special Committee called on the President of the United States to release Puerto Rican political prisoners serving prison sentences for more than 25 years for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico, as well as those serving sentences for cases relating to the Vieques island peace struggle.

Introducing the draft resolution, Cuba’s representative said it was increasingly urgent for the General Assembly to carry out a comprehensive review of Puerto Rico’s status, adding that the large turnout of petitioners for today’s meeting was evidence of great interest in the island’s future. The Non-Aligned Movement had repeatedly expressed its solidarity with the Puerto Rican people and had made an important statement to that effect during its ministerial meeting last May in Malaysia.

Many petitioners speaking supported the text, saying that Puerto Rico’s current relationship with the United States was deeply flawed and had stunted the island’s socio-economic development and allowed the exploitation of its natural resources by American companies and the United States Navy. Petitioner after petitioner condemned the assassination of Mr. Ojeda Rios by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).