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Ponencia JEM ante Comité de Descolinización de la ONU

Ponencia JEM ante Comité de Descolinización de la ONU

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Published by QuiquitoMelendez
Ponencia del representante José Enrique "Quiquito" Meléndez en representación LULAC ante el Comité de Descolonización de las Naciones Unidas.
Ponencia del representante José Enrique "Quiquito" Meléndez en representación LULAC ante el Comité de Descolonización de las Naciones Unidas.

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Published by: QuiquitoMelendez on Jun 17, 2013
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06/17/2013

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Statement by the

Hon. José Enrique Meléndez-Ortiz
Representative at Large Puerto Rico House of Representatives

On behalf of

The League of United Latin American Citizens Puerto Rico Chapter

Presented at a meeting of the

United Nations…
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE SITUATION WITH REGARD TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE D E C L A R AT I O N O N T H E G R A N T I N G O F INDEPENDENCE TO COLONIAL COUNTRIES AND PEOPLES

[also known as the “DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE” and as the “COMMITTEE OF 24”]

United Nations Headquarters New York, New York June 17th, 2013

My name is José Enrique Meléndez, and since 2011 I have been a Representative at Large, at the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. I have also been the Electoral Commissioner for the Republican Party of Puerto Rico and Deputy Electoral Commissioner for the New Progressive Party, both at the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission and for many years an active member of the League of United Latin American Citizens and its Puerto Rico Chapter that today I represent.

First of all, I’d like to thank LULAC, Puerto Rico for the opportunity to address this Special Committee on one of the most important issues that affect the daily lives of every Puerto Rican living on the island; the never ending problem of our political status.

I will not try to discuss or question the jurisdiction of this committee; in fact I will argue the opposite. The mere fact that we are here today discussing this issue is evidence that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

For many years this Special Committee has received testimony that reflects the different views of the Puerto Rico political spectrum. The conclusion in my view cannot be more obvious. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States that is yet to achieve a full-measure of self-government. And this is where this Committee should take action.

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LULAC is the oldest and most widely respected Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. For many years LULAC has been pushing the political apparatus in Washington, DC, in order to protect and promote the rights, liberties and opportunities of every Hispanic in America. The struggle and debate for equality, immigration and a path to citizenship, for every immigrant living in the States, is finally working its way into the halls of the United States Capitol. But the struggle for equality will never be completed until the voice of the people of Puerto Rico is not only heard, but also respected. And I say this again; this is where this Special Committee must take part on this discussion.

Today, you will hear testimony on the Puerto Rico’s political status, from many organizations, political parties and almost every political point of view in Puerto Rico. Although some of you may think that the testimony that you will hear today is more of the same, and by all means, there will always be someone telling this Committee that this discussion has not evolved, the fact is that it is just the opposite. As proof that what I’m saying is true, consider this: you are listening to a leader of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico, in fact a Delegate to the Republican National Convention, on behalf of a Hispanic (minority) organization, asking this Special Committee and the General Assembly of the United Nations to take action on an issue that until recently was perceived by many of us as domestic, foreign to the jurisdiction of this international organization.

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That’s how much things have changed since last November. I am sure that you will hear many interpretations of the results of the last plebiscite but one thing is certain, to put it simply, things are not the same.

Last November the people of Puerto Rico were asked this question, and I will quote the ballot: Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status? The results were unequivocal: 54% of the voters expressed that they do not want to remain under the current relationship with the United States. Let me also state that 78.19% of all registered voters participated in this referendum. With regard to the second question 61.16% voted for Statehood, 33.34% voted for the Sovereign Commonwealth and 5.49% voted for the Independence.

Although the referendum was composed of 2 different questions, the first one delivered a result that was a game changer. This is so, because these results change the framework on which this Special Committee should address this issue. On 1953, the United States informed that Puerto Rico had elected a local government to conduct its local affairs and ask the United Nations to remove Puerto Rico from the list of non self-governing territories, and led to the approval of Resolution 748 (VIII).

Once you read the results and get acquainted with the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status, everyone must come to the same conclusion, Puerto Rico withdrew its consent to its present form of
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territorial status. You will hear many interpretations with regard to the second question. Most of them would only try to produce a result without the voters consent.

I believe that President Abraham Lincoln best described this conflict when he was considering the process of admitting the State of West Virginia, ”Hence it is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters, who choose to vote, that constitute the political power of the State.”1
 

But one thing is certain; the results of the first question are not open to interpretation. As I said before, the struggle for equality will never be completed until the voice of the people of Puerto Rico is not only heard, but also respected.

This is where this Special Committee and the United Nations becomes relevant. Since the Puerto Rican voter no longer consents to its present territorial status, therefore this Committee has no other alternative but to act in accordance with that finding and recommend to the General Assembly that Puerto Rico be included on the List of Non-Self-Governing Territories, in consonance with the UN charter.

The inclusion of Puerto Rico on this list would produce the necessary sense of urgency needed to pass legislation on the

1 Abraham Lincoln, December 31, 1862, Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress.

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United States Congress in order to resolve this century old predicament.

On the national stage LULAC Puerto Rico passed a Resolution in support of H.R. 2000, the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act, presented by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. This bill, if passed by the US Congress, would set forth a process for Puerto Rico to be admitted as a State of the Union. I consider this process to be the natural evolution of this issue and would give Puerto Ricans the opportunity to finally resolve this issue for good.

I would like to conclude by stating that, with this new reality, I am optimistic on the prospects of Puerto Rico achieving full selfgovernment within the near future. I hope that any recommendation would translate into action leading to a process that ends this struggle.

Thank you for your kind attention

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