Puerto Rico remains a colony, panel says

The colonial status of Puerto Rico is once again coming up for review by the United Nations General Assembly. The UN’s Special Decolonization Committee placed the issue on the larger body’s agenda by unanimously adopting a resolution June 14. The resolution was sponsored by Cuba and Venezuela.

The Special Committee, as it has done for decades, reaffirmed the right of Puerto Rico to independence and self-determination. The committee acted after hearing many representatives of Puerto Rican and U.S. organizations, most of who oppose the island’s colonial dependency on the United States and who instead favor sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is considering proposals that would alter Puerto Rico’s status, including by making the island a U.S. state or recognizing it as an independent republic.

Becoming a state would require approval by a majority of U.S. voters, something regarded as highly unlikely. An Opinion Dynamics/Fox News poll taken in early June shows that 57 percent of the U.S. population opposes making Puerto Rico a state.

In other news, last month the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico absolved the FBI from the charge of using excessive force when its agents physically attacked news reporters who were covering the arrest of a pro-independence activist last year. The FBI claimed the reporters crossed a security perimeter, but no evidence was presented that such a cordon existed. Neither were FBI agents heard ordering reporters to leave the scene. Yet the court decided in favor of the FBI.

In another case, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals of Boston’s First Circuit ruled that the FBI does not have to furnish information to the Puerto Rican Department of Justice that the FBI considers “confidential.” Puerto Rican authorities are seeking such information in connection with the case of independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios, who was killed by the FBI in 2005.

jacruz @pww.org