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UN Committee on Decolonization passes another resolution in favor of Puerto Rico’s self-determination and independence

by | Jul 14, 2023 | Puerto Rico, Status | 0 comments

The Special Committee on Decolonization, established in 1961 by the General Assembly, is an organization out of the United Nations which approves resolutions concerning non-self-governing territories. The Committee, comprised of 29 members, counts Puerto Rico as one of those territories.

The members who supported Decolonization efforts by passing a resolution in favor of Puerto Rico’s self-determination and independence aligned with the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations. This group included Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

They approved an annual draft resolution named “Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.” This resolution would require the countries to collaborate with the Special Committee to implement a program to decolonize Non-Self-Governing Territories. They would work on case-to-case specific actions that pertain to each territory. They also passed other resolutions reaffirming the territories’ right to self-determination and implementing policies that promote economic and social growth with cultural preservation. 

The Committee approved, without a vote, a resolution specific to the self-determination of Puerto Rico titled “Decision of the Special Committee of 20 June 2022 concerning Puerto Rico“. The representative for Cuba introduced the resolution, which supported Puerto Rico’s right to act in sovereignty, address social and economic needs, and urged the US to demilitarize any occupied lands. Before the resolution was passed, 51 petitioners associated with Puerto Rico testified in front of the committee. Many people spoke in favor of decolonization, while others noted how most Puerto Rican Citizens favored US statehood. 

According to the UN, the member for Venezuela, Joaquín Alberto Pérez Ayestarán, said, “How many more decades do we have to declare before we, once and for all, eliminate colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.” The UN notes its condemnation of “the use of modern neocolonial practices that include, among others, economic exploitation; restricted access to new technologies; and the attempts to substitute international law norms with non-consensual rules, policies, and programmes.” 

Additionally, Diego Pary Rodríguez, the representative for Bolivia, stated: “that history has shown that colonialism dominated and de-structured existing societies, leaving wounds that remain unaddressed.” The Bolivian representative says that colonialism requires human rights violations that contradict the values of the UN. However, Rodríguez’s criticism of colonialism conflicts with the reality of his country’s issues with human rights violations. In the past, Bolivia has faced notable human rights issues, including torture and inhumane punishments by the government, censorship of the press, lack of judicial independence, government corruption, and some of the worst forms of child labor, among others. 

This resolution is a positive sign for Puerto Rico’s goal of independence. However, Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress, disagrees. She commented on the Group of Friends’ hypocrisy as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela “are amongst the worst human rights violators and anti-democratic regimes in the world, are once again calling for Puerto Rico’s independence in an attempt to advance their anti-American agenda and grow their influence in the region.” 

González-Colón reaffirmed Puerto Ricans’ rejection of this attempt and noted their strong American alliance. She emphasized Congress’s role in this matter rather than the UN. The resident commissioner continued to reject the Committee’s “hypocritical reasoning” for their support of Puerto Rico’s independence as it is not a “Committee made up of authoritarian regimes like Communist China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela—that has the ultimate responsibility to address Puerto Rico’s political status.” 

The resident commissioner noted positive progress on the issue in Congress by stating the US House of Representatives’ approval of historic legislation allowing Puerto Rico to have a say in its future. 

Though this Committee may seem like they are doing honest work for the future freedom of non-governing territories, there is concern among other regions, including Puerto Rico, about the reality of their motives. 

González-Colón called her citizens to reject these members’ support. She ended her comment by saying, “To the people of Puerto Rico and our fellow Americans across the States, take a hard look at who’s calling for the islands’ independence. These are not our friends and allies.”



Lahari Lingam

Lahari Lingam

Lahari Lingam is a sophomore at the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York. Lahari has a strong passion for politics and government and hopes to have a career in a related field. Lahari loves history and is on the Mock Trial team at her school. In her free time, Lahari loves to weightlift, read, spend time with friends and family, and cook. She is a Political Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


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