Thursday, September 18, 2014

Puerto Rico colonized

Borikén, a thorn in the side for the U.S.


• On April 11, 1899, the United States exchanged ratification documents with Spain to seal the Treaty of Paris signed the year before • Among the countries ceded under the Treaty was Puerto Rico, which remains a colony of the U.S. empire today

By Lídice Valenzuela García

Borikén, the indigenous name of the archipelago including the main island of Puerto Rico, lives enslaved in the 21st century by a Treaty signed in 1898 by Spain and the United States, a status rejected in important international forums, thanks to the resistance of Puerto Rican nationalist movements which have been fighting for decades to achieve national sovereignty.

A map of U.S. military bases in Puerto Rico. The U.S. took control of the
island by military force at the end of the 19th century, taking advantage of
the decline of the Spanish Empire. 

Washington refuses to relinquish sovereignty to Puerto Rico – in foreign hands since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493 – keeping its citizens in a kind of legal limbo. The U.S. does not recognize Puerto Rico as a state, but neither has it been returned to its rightful owners, given the imperial power’s many interests on the island, among them military. Thus the idea which best served Washington’s purposes was to arrogantly declare the country a Free Associated State.
On April 11, 1899, the U.S. government and Spain exchanged documents ratifying the Treaty of Paris - signed the year before in the French capital by both nations, a stroke of luck resulting from U.S. interference in the Cuban War of Independence. The treaty gave U.S. authority over territories important to the new geopolitics it had envisioned for the Caribbean in the 20th century.
With this sham diplomatic act, U.S authorities also gained control of Spain’s remaining possessions in the Caribbean and Pacific - consisting of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam and the Philippines.

President William McKinleyIn regards to Cuba, strategists at the time planned to occupy the country and later grant independence, which had already been won from the Spanish on the battlefield. The supposed U.S. salvation arrived on imperial ships and marked the history of the county. Cuba was subjugated to Washington’s political and economic interests, until 1959.
The signing of the Treaty brought an end to the Cuban War of Independence. The imperialist regime took advantage of its entry into Cuba to broaden its expansion after almost 100 years of appropriations justified under different doctrines, a realization of the so-called Manifest Destiny attributed to the country. By 1989 the U.S. had annexed Louisiana, Oregon, California, Texas and New Mexico, among other territories, but its ambitions took it further, to the Caribbean, protected by a fleet which clearly demonstrated its military power.
Since the day President William McKinley signed the Paris Treaty, Puerto Rico has been a thorn in the side of the United States, even when the majority of the population has voted in opposition to independence in a number of referendums, reflecting the country’s economic dependence and saturation of U.S. culture over generations.

Pro-independence protest march in San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico. The independence movement grows stronger in the heart of the Puerto Rican people. 

Puerto Rican nationalists have, however, been waging an uphill battle to regain the island’s freedom, and in order to do so, have employed different forms of resistance, from the streets to discussions in the United Nations about this archaic case of colonialism in the 21st century.
The new democratic governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have joined forces with those who desire Puerto Rico’s full independence. There have been important demonstrations of solidarity with Puerto Rico, for example, the UN Decolonization Committee’s vote in favor of Puerto Rican sovereignty and support received in other international forums, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the most significant unifying, integrationist force currently existing in the region.
Last year, The UN Decolonization Committee reevaluated Puerto Rico’s status, on the request of Cuba - historically and geographically linked to Puerto Rico - with the support of other Latin American nations, in a diplomatic exercise first carried out more than 30 years ago, which Washington has ignored.

Oscar López RiveraBefore delegates from 193 UN member countries, Cuba’s representative, Oscar León, presented a resolution, supported by Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador, asserting Puerto Rico’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence.
This was not a novel event. Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination has been recognized in 31 resolutions and decisions since 1972.
León stated however, “Little progress has been made, in all these years, in the search for a definitive solution to the current colonial status, which will allow Puerto Ricans to freely determine their political condition and realize, without foreign interference, their political, economic, social and cultural dreams.”
The proposed resolution also called on U.S. President Barack Obama to release political prisoners Oscar López Rivera, imprisoned 32 years ago, and Norberto González Claudio, both serving unjust sentences for their pro-independence efforts.
The inclusion of the issue of Puerto Rican independence in the Second CELAC Summit, held in Havana, gave support to the efforts of Puerto Rican patriots. Representatives of Puerto Rican political movements favoring national sovereignty traveled to Havana as invited guests to participate in the great event’s ancillary activities. 
“We reiterate the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico, and taking note of the resolutions regarding Puerto Rico adopted by the United Nations Special Decolonization Committee, we reiterate that this is an issue of importance to CELAC,” indicated the Final Declaration of the Summit, approved by 29 heads of state and government convened in Havana.
The fight for Puerto Rican independence is long and difficult. The U.S. is a powerful enemy who will not give up this Caribbean jewel, which it governs from afar, but nor can it evade the desire of a good part of the four million people who live on the island, demonstrating in protests, in the streets, in public forums, in their continual political struggle, that at some point Puerto Rico will be included among the free nations of the Caribbean. (Cubahora)

 September 09, 2014