EDITORIAL: Independence for Puerto Rico

Today, Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony. In the final document of its just-completed summit conference in Havana, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries reiterated its support for the right of the Puerto Rico nation to independence and self-determination. The affirmation by most of the world’s countries of Puerto Rico’s right to be free and sovereign came just before the 138th anniversary of El Grito de Lares, the historic Sept. 23, 1868, revolt against Spanish colonialism.

This Sept. 23 is also the first anniversary of the shooting death of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios at the hands of the FBI.

A recent U.S. Department of Justice report acquitted the federal agents involved. In other words, the department investigated itself and declared itself innocent.

That report was but one more attack on a people who constitute a Latin American nation, a nation that cherishes its language, history and customs. Puerto Rico is viewed as a nation by countries around the world.

Other attacks against the rights of the Puerto Rican people have included the detention of a Puerto Rican solidarity group that traveled to Cuba — imposing the U.S. travel ban on Puerto Ricans — and the detention of a delegation that traveled to Venezuela, where no U.S. blockade or ban exists.

There have also been raids on homes and worksites of independence activists, supposedly for “antiterrorist” reasons, and attacks against Puerto Rican journalists covering the raids.

In fact, these assaults against the integrity, honor and rights of an oppressed nation began with the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898. Many Puerto Ricans supported the invasion at the time, thinking Puerto Rico would be freed of Spanish colonialism and would then treated with respect, equality and new prospects for economic development by the “democracy” to the north. On the contrary, what they got was colonial domination and super-exploitation by U.S. corporations.

All democratically minded people should join with the non-aligned nations to declare with one voice: Independence for Puerto Rico!