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Organization Of American States

Inter-American Commission On Human Rights

PEDRO ROSSELLO ·-, ~- . r~: \t c: f'


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and
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THE UNFINISHED ~~: c:.l.\AC.hi,,


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\..dL, I

BUSINESS OF AMERICAN
DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE,

in their individual capacities


and on behalf of approximately

FOUR MILLION U.S.


CITIZENS RESIDING IN THE
COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO Rico,

Petitioners

v.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

State.

Petition Seeking: (1) Declaration That, In Denying Petitioner Rossell<i, Petitioner


Committee's Members, And Approximately Four Million Other U.S. Citizens Residing In The
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico Of The Right To Vote For And Elect The President, The Vice;,.
President, And Voting Members Of Congress, The Government Of The United States Of
America Is Violating The American Declaration Of The Rights And Duties Of Man And The
Inter-American Democratic Charter; (2) Precautionary Measures, If Necessary, Demanding
That The State Act Swiftly To Remedy These Violations Before The 2008 National Elections
To Permit Petitioners And All Other Similarly Situated Citizens To Vote;' And (3) All Such
Other Appropriate Measures As Would Afford Petitioners A Full And Effective Remedy

Orlando E. Vidal, Esq.


Sullivan & Worcester LLP
1666 K Street, N.W., ~uite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006-2803
(202) 775-6825; FAX (202) 293-2275
ovidal@sandw.com
October 17, 2006
TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ................................................................... 2

IL PETITIONERS AND STANDING ................................................................ 5

III. COMMISSION'S COMPETENCE ................................................................ 7

N. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND .................................................................. 9

V. STATEMENT OF OPERATIVE FACTS ....................................................... 16

VI. BASIC LAWS AND APPLICABLE PRECEDENT .......................................... 18

VII. HUMAN-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ............................................................... 36

VIII. EXHAUSTION OF DOMESTIC REMEDIES ................................................. 38

IX. TIMELINESS ....................................................................................... 45

X. NO DUPLICATION OF PROCEDURES ...................................................... .46

XI. COLORAB LE CLAIM ............................................................................. 47

XII. CONSENT OF SOME VICTIMS DOES NOT EXCUSE


STATE'S OBLIGATIONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL
LAW ................. ·.................................................................................. 47

XIII. CONFIDENTIALITY OF COMMUNICATIONS ............................................ .48

XIV. RIGHT TO PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES ............................................... .49

XV. DESIGNATION OF ATTORNEY ............................................................... 54

XVI. PRAYER FOR RELIEF ........................................................................... 55

EXHIBITS
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

PEDRO ROSSELLO and THE UNFINISHED


BUSINESS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
COMMITTEE, in their individual capacities
and on behalf of approximately FOUR
MILLION U.S. CITIZENS RESIDING IN
THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO, No.

Petitioners

v.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

State.

PETITION

Pursuant to Article 106 1 of the Charter of the Organization of American States,2 Article

203 of the Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 4 and Articles 23, 28, 49,

1
OAS Charter, art. 106 provides: "There shall be an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
whose principal function shall be to promote the observance and protection of human rights and to serve as a
consultative organ of the Organization in these matters."
2
Hereinafter, "OAS."
3
Commission Statute, art. 20 provides, in relevant part:
In relation to those member states of the Organization that are not parties to the American
Convention on Human Rights, the Commission shall have the following powers ... a. to
pay particular attention to the observance of the human rights referred to in Article[] II ...
of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. . . . b. to examine
communications submitted to it and any other available information, to address the
government of any [M]ember [S]tate not a Party to the Convention for information
deemed pertinent by this Commission, and to make recommendations to it, when it finds
this appropriate, in order to bring about more effective observance of fundamental human
rights ....
4
Hereinafter, "Commission."

1
and 50 of the Commission Rules of Procedure,5 Petitioners PEDRO ROSSELL6 6 and THE
7
UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY COMMITTEE, in their individual

capacities and on behalf of approximately FOUR MILLION U.S. CITIZENS RESIDING IN the

U.S. territory lrnown as THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RIC0, 8 file this their Petition

against the Government of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 9 and respectfully assert and

pray as follows:

I.
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. Today, in the twenty-first century, in this Hemisphere, in the United States, in

Puerto Rico, approximately four million U.S. citizens - the overwhelming majority of whom are

Hispanic and Spanish-speaking and, as such, ethnic and linguistic minorities within the United

States - have no domestic legally recognized right to vote for their country's President and Vice

5
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 23 permits:
[a]ny person or group of persons or nongovernmental entity legally recognized in one or
more of the Member States of the OAS ... [to] submit petitions to the Commission, on
their own behalf or on behalf of third persons, concerning alleged violations of a human
right recognized in, as the case may be, . . . the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man ....
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 28 lists the requirements for the consideration of petitions by this
Commission, which requirements are specifically identified and met in the following sections of this Petition.
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 49 provides:
The Commission shall receive and examine any petition that contains a denunciation of
alleged violations of the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man ... in relation to the Member States of the Organization that are not
parties to the American Convention on Human Rights.
As discussed below, the State charged in this Petition is not a party to the American Convention on Human Rights
("American Convention").
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 50 establishes the procedures "applicable to petitions concerning
Member States of the OAS that are not parties to the American Convention ...."
6
Hereinafter, "Rossell6."
7
Hereinafter, "Committee."
8
Hereinafter, ''Puerto Rico." Collectively, Petitioner Rossell6 and Petitioner Committee, both in their
individual and representative capacities, shall be referred to hereinafter as "Petitioners."
9
Hereinafter, "State" or "United States."

2
President or any voting representation in either the House or the Senate of their national

legislature.

2. The rights to vote, to political participation, and to democracy, and the right to

enjoy these rights under the same terms and conditions of equality as other citizens in one's own

country, are regionally and internationally recognized and protected fundamental human rights.

3. These rights are, in many ways, among the most important of human rights

because, through them, people everywhere are not only able to hold their governments

accountable but are also empowered to shape the course of, and thereby improve, their lives.

Through the exercise of these rights, individuals collectively are able to assign to themselves all

the privileges and the duties of citizenship.

4. These rights also constitute an acknowledgement that both individuals and

peoples are entitled to be the masters of their own destinies by participating in the decisions that

fundamentally affect their lives. In fact, these rights are the keystone for a system in which all

other human rights are respected.

5. The rights to vote, to participate in government, to democracy, and to the equal

enjoyment and exercise of one's rights under the law - all rights that at the present time the

United States is violating by denying Petitioners and approximately four million other U.S.

citizens in Puerto Rico of any effective national political rights - form the only legitimate basis

for the exercise of power by governments anywhere.

6. As discussed in this Petition, Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States

since 1898. Since 1917, or for the past 89 years of those 108 years, the people of Puerto Rico

have been citizens of the United States. Many of these citizens have served, fought, and died for

the cause of freedom and democracy abroad. But, at the national level, their government

deprives them of the vote and of the right to participate in their own development on equal terms

3
by granting them only the right to send to their Congress a non-voting delegate to the House of

Representatives, called a "Resident Commissioner," by denying them altogether the right to

representation in their Senate, and by depriving them absolutely of the right to vote in

PresidentialNice Presidential elections.

7. These and the following things in this their Petition Petitioners do not say with the

intent to cast aspersions, embarrass, unnecessarily criticize, or in any way disgrace the United

States in the eyes of the regional and international communities. After all, the United States is

Petitioners' country, and one to which they and their members are bound not only by duty but

also with affection. Rather, Petitioners have been brought to file this Petition by the realization

that it is not only their right, under international law, to enjoy the protections asserted herein but

also their duty to exercise them. Motivating Petitioners is also the hope that the United States,

through the good offices of this Commission, will in turn come to realize soon that the

deprivation of these fundamental political rights to their citizens living in Puerto Rico cannot

stand unaddressed and unresolved any longer, and thereby be brought back to the better angels

that Petitioners know are their country's true nature.

8. Petitioners place their hope in and pray that this Commission will come to their

aid and the aid of these other four million U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico whose

fundamental human rights are being violated as only this Commission is in the privileged

position to provide them with such singular forum where their legitimate grievances may be

heard and evaluated, and where recommendations may be fashioned that would assist the State in

remedying, once and for all, the current unlawful circumstances to which Petitioners have been

relegated for far too long.

4
II.
PETITIONERS AND STANDING

9. Petitioner Rossell6 is a United States citizen, a native and resident of Puerto Rico,

and one of among approximately four million U.S. citizens residing in that territory denied the

right to vote for President, Vice President, and voting members of Congress.

I 0. Petitioner Rossell6 is also a Senator in the Puerto Rico legislature, a two-term

Governor of Puerto Rico, 10 President of the Partido Nuevo Progresista, 11 a pediatric surgeon

trained at the Universities of Notre Dame (B.S.), Yale (Doctor in Medicine), and Harvard (Post

Doctoral in Surgery), a Master's-Degree-graduate in Public Health from the University of Puerto

Rico, a past lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Resident Scholar at the

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an Associate Professor at the University of

Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and a Research Professor at George Washington University. 12

11. Petitioner Rossell6 has dedicated most of his adult life to the cause of equality,

which is what statehood means to the people of Puerto Rico, and for that period has actively

directed all efforts in Puerto Rico and at the national and international levels to bring to the U.S.

residents of that territory the rights to vote for President, Vice President, and voting members of

both houses of their national legislature on equal terms with all other U.S. citizens residing in the

50 States.

10
1993-1996 and 1997-2000. In 1999, and fulfilling his promise to serve only two consecutive terms,
Petitioner Rossell6 declared his intention not to run for Governor for the 2001-2004 tenn
11
"PNP" or "New Progressive Party," which is one of the three major parties in Puerto Rico and which
seeks U.S. statehood for the island. (The two other parties are the Partido Popular Democratico ("PPD"), which is
the status quo or colonialist party, and the Partido Independentista Puertorriquefio ("PIP"), which seeks complete
separation from the United States and island independence. In the 2004 territorial elections, of the close to 2 million
votes cast, less than 50,000, or approximately 2%, were for the PIP.)
12
In 2004, Petitioner Rossell6 ran for Governor in an election in which the PNP won the race for Resident
Commissioner (i.e., Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate to Congress), a majority in both houses of the territorial
legislature, and the majority of local mayoralty and city-council/town-hall races, but which did not result in his
becoming Governor after highly controversial and litigated results were adjudicated to favor his PPD opponent by
the local Supreme Court controlled by that party's appointees.

5
12. Petitioner Rossell6 is the author of The Unfinished Business of American

Democracy, a book first published in 2005, which is attached as Exhibit A to this Petition.

13. Petitioner Committee is composed of a group of private individuals within the

Harlan Group for Civil Rights, Inc., 13 which is a nonprofit corporation under Puerto Rico law

that supports the advancement of equality within the United States for all citizens residing in

Puerto Rico. 14 Mr. Luis Berrios-Amadeo is the Chairman of Petitioner Committee.

14. Its Chairman and all the other members of Petitioner Committee are also U.S.

citizens residing in Puerto Rico who, as such, have no right to vote for President, Vice President,

and voting members of Congress.

15. The U.S. Census Bureau, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of

Commerce, which in turn is a department within the executive branch of the government of the

United States, estimated in its most recent survey covering 2005 that Puerto Rico's population at

the conclusion of that year was 3,912,054. 15 Petitioners appear herein in their individual

capacities and on behalf of these approximately four million individuals, 99% of whom the U.S.

Census Bureau also estimates are United States citizens, Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking, 16 who

have no domestic legally recognized right to vote in national elections as described herein.

16. In compliance with Article 23 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, which

grants the right to submit petitions to this Commission to "[a]ny person or group of persons or

nongovernmental entity legally recognized in one or more of the Member States of the OAS ...

on their own behalf or on behalf of third persons," 17 Petitioners declare that they or their

13
Hereinafter, "Harlan Group."
14
See Exhibit B.
15
U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 Population Estimates, Census 2000.
16 Id.
17
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 23.

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members, and obviously the approximately four million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico on whose

behalf Petitioners also file this Petition, are all natural persons. As natural persons (and as

discussed below), they or their members enjoy the rights recognized under the hlllllan-rights

instruments Petitioners seek protection. 18 Moreover, Petitioner Committee is part of the Harlan

Group, which in turn is a nongovernmental entity legally recognized in Puerto Rico and, thus, in

the United States.

III.
COMMISSION'S COMPETENCE

17. This Commission is the principal organ created under the OAS Charter to

promote the observance and protection of human rights in this Hemisphere.

18. All OAS members fall within the jurisdiction of this Commission.

19. The State here is a member of the OAS, having deposited its instrument of

ratification of the OAS Charter with the OAS General Secretariat on June 19, 1951. Thus, the

United States falls within this Commission's jurisdiction.

20. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights 19 and this Commission have held that

the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, 20 approved in 1948 by the Ninth

International Conference of American States in Bogota, Colombia, is a source of international

obligations for all OAS Member States, including those that have not ratified the American

Convention on Human Rights. 21

18
See, e.g., American Convention, art. 1(2) ("'person' means every human being").
19
Hereinafter, "Inter-American Court."
20
Hereinafter, "American Declaration."
21
Hereinafter, "American Convention." See, e.g., Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., Interpretation of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man Within the Framework of Article 64 of the American Convention on
Human Rights, Advisory Opinion OC-10/89 (ser. A.) No. 10 ~ 35-45 (1989); Inter-Am. C.H.R., James Terry Roach
and Jay Pinkerton v. United States, Case 9647, Res. 3/87 (1987); Inter-Am. C.H.R., Annual Report 1986-1987, ~
46-49; Inter-Am. C.H.R., Rafael Ferrer-Mazorra v. United States, Report N° 51/0l, Case 9903 (2001); see also
OAS Charter; Commission Statute, art. 20.

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21. Despite having added its signature to the document in 1977, the United States has

not yet ratified the American Convention. While the State's signature alone obligates it to

"refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of ... [the] treaty," 22 the fact that

the State has not yet ratified it means petitioners, in general, may base their claims against the

United States only on the American Declaration and those other instruments, additional sources

of international obligations for all OAS Member States, to which the United States has explicitly,

or through its membership in the OAS, implicitly consented.

22. fu addition to the American Declaration, one such other instrument or source of

international obligations for the United States is the Inter-American Democratic Charter,23 which

the OAS General Assembly adopted at its special session held in Lima, Peru, on September 11,

2001.

23. As a member of the OAS, the United States is bound and required to respect,

protect, promote, defend, and enhance the rights, under both the American Declaration and the

Democratic Charter, of all persons in this Hemisphere, including the rights of Petitioner

Rossell6, Petitioner Committee's members, and the four million other U.S. citizens residing in

Puerto Rico.

24. The State is obligated under the American Declaration and the Democratic

Charter even where, as here (and as discussed immediately below24), this Petition is based in part

upon acts that occurred prior to the State's ratification and/or the adoption of the relevant

22
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, entered into force, January 27, 1980, at art. 18, U.N.
Doc. A/Conf. 39/27 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 81.L.M. 679 (1969).
23
Hereinafter, "Democratic Charter."
24
See infra§ IV.

8
instruments, because the deprivation of the fundamental human rights at stake has continued and

remains, to this day, unresolved. As this Commission has stated:

That alleged violations of this nature fall within the scope of the
Commission's competence .. . is consistent with the Commission's
practice and that of other international human rights tribunals of applying
human rights instruments to alleged violations that arose prior to the
ratification of those instruments but which are continuin~ in nature and
whose effects persist after the instruments' entry into force. 5

25. Finally, the violations alleged in this Petition have occurred in Puerto Rico, which

as mentioned but also as discussed in more detail immediately below, 26 is a, and within the,

territory of the United States.

26. For these reasons, this Commission has jurisdiction to consider this matter, and

should thus proceed accordingly to evaluate how Petitioners meet the remaining admissibility

standards discussed below, admit this Petition and, in as expedited a fashion as possible, rule for

Petitioners on the merits of this case.

IV.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

27. Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain from its European discovery in 1493 until

1898, or for 405 years, when the United States invaded the island at the start of the Spanish-

American War.

28. Under the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898,27 which marked the end of the

Spanish-American War, Spain ceded several territories to the United States, including Puerto

Rico.

25
Statehood Solidarity Committee v. United States, Case No. 11,204, Inter-Am. C.H.R., Report No. 98/03
~ 59 (2003).
26
See infra§ IV.
27
Hereinafter, "Treaty of Paris."

9
29. The Treaty of Paris provided, in its Article IX, that "[t]he civil rights and political

status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States[, including

Puerto Rico,] shall be determined by the Congress. " 28

30. Between 1898 and 1900, the United States administered Puerto Rico as a military

protectorate.

31. fu 1900, the United States Congress passed the Foraker Act, 29 replacing the

military government with a civilian one and establishing a Governor and an Executive Council

(both appointed by the President of the United States), a popularly elected legislature, a judicial

system, and a non-voting delegate to Congress called "Resident Commissioner."

32. fu 1917, the United States conferred United States citizenship on all Puerto

Ricans, through the passage of the Jones Act. 30

33. The Jones Act also replaced the Executive Council with a popularly elected

Senate. The Governor, however, remained a U.S. Presidential appointment.

34. During the early part of the twentieth century, the United States Supreme Court

decided a number of cases, now part of the cannon of U.S. constitutional law and popularly

known as the Insular Cases, 31 in which this the highest court in the country adopted the concept

of an "unincorporated territory." Under this concept, Puerto Rico was declared, and is and has

thus far remained - until the condition is changed by the U.S. Congress - a territory of the

United States not destined for statehood - again, until the condition is changed by the Congress -

28
Treaty of Paris, art. IX.
29
See Act Apr. 12, 1900, c. 191, 31 Stat. 77.
30
Act Mar. 2, 1917, c.145, 39 Stat. 961.
31
See Bartholomew H. Sparrow, The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire (University
Press of Kansas, 2006).

10
and in which apply only those constitutional protections extended to it by the Congress and/or

otherwise recognized as fundamental by the domestic courts.

35. As a matter of undeniable historical fact, the Insular Cases were highly motivated

by racial, ethnic, xenophobic, and even religious prejudices and imperialist interests to which, in

this day and age, presumably no nation that values the respect of the international community

would dare hold or, at the very least, openly admit. 32

36. In Downes v. Bidwell,33 among the first decisions, and in many respects the most

critical, of the Insular Cases, a five-to-four majority of the Supreme Court wrote, in an opinion

authored by Justice Henry Brown34 to justify the Court's refusal to extend all constitutional

protections to the residents of the territory of Puerto Rico, that that newly acquired possession of

the United States was "inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, ...

and modes of thought, [the result of which] the administration of government and justice,

according to Anglo-Saxon principles, may for a time be impossible."35

37. The historical record stands also with the four-Justice dissent in Downes that

rejected the idea of an "unincorporated territory." In their opinion, the dissenters wrote that the

majority's:

theory assume[ d] that the Constitution created a government empowered


to acquire countries throughout the world, to be governed by different
rules than those obtaining in the original states and territories, and

32
The Insular Cases have been called "central documents in the history of American racism." Sanford
Levinson, Why the Cannon Should Be Expanded to Include the Insular Cases and the Saga of American
Expansionism, 17 Const. Conunent. 241, 245 (2000).
33
182 U.S. 244 (1901).
34
This is the same Justice Brown who, for a majority of the Supreme Court in 1896, wrote the now
infamous decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), upholding racial segregation in the United States,
which opinion was not reversed until 1954 in Brown v. Bd. ofEducation, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
35
Downes, 182 U.S. at 287.

11
substitutes for the present system of republican government a system of
domination over distant provinces in the exercise of unrestricted power. 36

38. The four-Justice dissent predicted, in a warning to posterity that has now, after

105 years since that decision, become realized prophesy, that Puerto Rico would remain in an

"intermediate state of ambiguous existence for an indefinite period."37

39. Writing an additional separate dissent in Downes, Justice John Marshall Harlan

wrote:

The idea that this country may acquire territories anywhere upon the earth,
by conquest or treaty, and hold them as mere colonies or provinces - the
people inhabiting them to enjoy only such rights as Congress chooses to
accord to them - is wholly inconsistent with the spirit and genius as well
as with the words of the Constitution. 38

And yet, that the United States may permanently hold "unincorporated territories," such as

Puerto Rico, is and has remained the law of the land for over a century. 39

40. In 1947, and exercising its authority under the U.S. Constitution "to dispose of

and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging

to the United States," 40 as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Insular Cases, the U.S.

Congress approved a law allowing the election of the Governor by the people of Puerto Rico.

41. In 1950, again exercising its authority over Puerto Rico, the U.S. Congress passed

Public Law 60041 giving the island residents the right to establish, "on matters of purely local

concem,"42 a constitution for the internal administration of the territorial government.

36
Id. at 373.
37
Id. at 372.
38
Id. at 380.
39
Fittingly, the Harlan Group, to which Petitioner Committee belongs, is named after Justice Harlan.
40
U.S. Const. art. IV,§ 3,, 2.
41
Public Law 600 is popularly known as the "Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act."
42
48 U.S.C.A. § 73lb and House Report No. 2275.

12
42. fu 1952, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico approved a new constitution and

established what is now known as the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico." As with the

constitutions and laws of the 50 States - but in Puerto Rico without the accompanying rights to

voting representation in Congress nor to the franchise in PresidentialNice Presidential elections

- the constitution and laws of Puerto Rico are subject to the supremacy of federal law under the

United States Constitution.

43. Puerto Rico has thus remained for the past 108 years a territory of the United

States, one that some commentators have described as the oldest colony in the world, 43 where at

the national level its residents only have the right to send to Congress a non-voting delegate,

again called "Resident Commissioner," and where its residents have no right to vote for

President and Vice President because, under their country's constitutional scheme, only States

and the District of Columbia - this last one only per a constitutional amendment44 - and not

territories, have electors in the national Electoral College, which in turn is the body that actually

elects the President and Vice President.

44. The absurdity of the situation is such that former residents of Puerto Rico,

immediately upon moving to one of the 50 States or the District of Columbia, are vested with the

domestic legal right to vote in PresidentialNice Presidential elections, and in the States also in

elections for voting members of Congress, but not while they remain territorial residents. 45

45. If Puerto Rico were treated as one of the 50 States it would mean that, under the

State's domestic legislation, its approximately four million U.S. citizens would be entitled to

43
Jose Trias-Monge, Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World (Yale University Press,
1999).
44
U.S. Const. amend. XIII,§ 1.
45
Today, approximately three million Puerto Ricans live in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.
Unlike their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, these citizens have the right to vote in Presidential/Vice Presidential
elections and, if they live in one of the States, also for voting Representatives and Senators to the U.S. Congress.

13
send electors to the Electoral College, and thereby participate in the voting and election of the

President and Vice President. It would also mean the right to elect U.S. State Representatives to

the House, which under domestic law is determined by the State's population, and which in the

case of the State of Puerto Rico, with more inhabitants than 24 other States of the United

States,46 would presently mean approximately between five and seven Representatives. And it

would mean the right to elect two Senators to the United States Senate, like every other one of

the 50 States of the Union.

46. Since the establishment of the Commonwealth, the demand for equality that the

statehood movement represents has grown in Puerto Rico. In local plebiscites (i.e., not federally

sponsored elections concerning changes in sovereignty) statehood won: 39% in 1967; 46.3% in

1993; and 46.49% in 1998. In this last plebiscite, the leadership of the PPD-colonialist party

backed continued Commonwealth status, which received only 0.06% of the votes, but

campaigned in favor of the ''none-of-the-above" option on the ballot because of its disagreement

with the territorial definition of "Commonwealth" also appearing on the ballot.

47. Today, of the three only possible options for Puerto Rico under the United States

Constitution (i.e., continued colonial status, statehood, and independence), the statehood

movement is the largest and strongest political force in the island.

48. Unless specifically excepted, all U.S. federal statutory laws apply to Puerto Rico

without the consent of its residents.

49. While residents of the island do not pay federal income tax, they do pay US.-

federal-payroll and Social-Security taxes. 47

46
See U.S. Census Bureau, Ranking of Census 2000 and Projected 2030 State Population Change,
www.census.gov/population/www/projections/projectionsagesex.html.
47
Under the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote may "not be denied or abridged by the United States or any
State by reason of failure to pay any poll or other tax." U.S. Const. amend. XXIV.

14
50. Because U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico have no effective political participation at

their national level, their national government does not fund, for instance, entitlement programs

to the same level as in the States. The result, not surprisingly, is that in almost every single

federal program, Puerto Rico's U.S. citizens are discriminated against.

51. For example, U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and their struggling health care

providers do not receive equal treatment under Medicare, which is a publicly funded health

insurance program generally for the elderly and disabled, despite the fact that Puerto Ricans pay

the same Medicare payroll taxes and deductibles as citizens in the rest of the country.

52. Likewise, support for federal Medicaid, which is the U.S. health msurance

program for low-income individuals and families, comes to about $330 per month per participant

in the 50 States, as compared with about $20 per month per participant in Puerto Rico.

53. The Medicare and Medicaid programs are just two among countless other

examples to which Petitioners can point as actual evidence of the effects lack of effective

political participation at the national level has meant to the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico.

54. More significantly, the domestic Selective Service laws require all males in the

United States, including Puerto Rico, between the ages of 18 and 25, to register for possible

conscription into the armed forces of the country in the case of a national crisis and as a back-up

to the present volunteer military.

55. Since the United States acquired Puerto Rico, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans

have served their nation with distinction in every United States military conflict, earning

numerous decorations, including posthumous medals of honor, and rising in several instances to

the ranks of general and admiral. The residents of none of the 50 States, prior to their admission

to the Union, sustained as many combat casualties defending United States interests abroad as

have U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.

15
56. Taking alone the current and ongoing conflicts in which the United States is

engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, 30 U.S. citizens fonner residents of Puerto Rico have thus far

died in the service of their country, 48 and 115 have been wounded, 49 raking Puerto Rico among

the highest U.S. jurisdictions per capita in the number of casualties and injuries in those wars. 50

None of these soldiers had a domestic legally recognized right to vote for their Commander-in-

Chief who, under their country's Constitution, is the President of the United States, 51 nor for any

voting representation in Congress, which under the U.S. Constitution has the exclusive power to

declare war. 52

v.
STATEMENT OF OPERATIVE FACTS

57. · The operative facts in this case are few and cannot be the subject of any

controversy. They are as follows:

(a) Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States;

(b) Petitioner Rossel16, Petitioner Committee's members, and approximately

four million other people in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens;

(c) Petitioner Rossell6, most Petitioner Committee's members, and the

overwhehning majority of the approximately four million other U.S. citizens residing in Puerto

Rico are of Hispanic heritage and speak Spanish, and as such are ethnic and language minorities

within the United States;

48
For Afghanistan casualty figures as of October 1, 2006, see www.icasualties.org/oef/Default.aspx. For
Iraq casualty figures as of September 30, 2006, see http://icasualties.org/oif/ByState.aspx.
49
D.O.D. Personnel and Military Casualties Statistics (as of September 30, 2006).
so These fatality and wounded figures exclude the number of U.S. citizens of Puerto-Rican decent who live
in the 50 States and the District of Colwnbia.
si U.S. Const. art. II, § 2,, I.
52
U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 11.

16
(d) Under the domestic legislation of the State, only residents of one of the 50

States or the District of Columbia have the right to send electors to the national Electoral

College, which in turn is the body that elects the U.S. President and Vice President;

(e) Under the domestic legislation of the State, only residents of one of the 50

States have the right to send voting Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives;

(f) Under the domestic legislation of the State, only residents of one of the 50

States have the right to send Senators to the U.S. Senate;

(g) Petitioner Rossell6, Petitioner Committee's members, and the other U.S.

citizens residing in Puerto Rico, may only elect at the national level a non-voting delegate to

Congress called "Resident Commissioner;"

(h) No U.S. citizen residing in Puerto Rico, unlike citizens of the 50 States

and the District of Columbia, has the domestic right to vote for and elect the U.S. President and

Vice President;

(i) No U.S. citizen residing in Puerto Rico, unlike citizens of the 50 States,

has the domestic right to vote for and elect any voting Representative to the U.S. House of

Representatives;

G) No U.S. citizen residing in Puerto Rico, unlike citizens of the 50 States,

has the domestic right to vote for and elect any Senators to the U.S. Senate;

(k) The situation herein described has remained the state of affairs for the U.S.

citizens of Puerto Rico since they acquired citizenship in 1917, or for the past 89 years; and

(1) This situation will remain unchanged for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico

for the foreseeable future, unless and until remedied by Congress and the President of the United

States.

17
VI.
BASIC LAWS AND
APPLICABLE PRECEDENT

58. Petitioners call on the Commission to look upon the following Hemispheric laws

as either sources of international obligations for the United States or, if not direct sources of

obligations, instruments upon which the Commission may turn to define the scope of the rights at

stake. Those sources or instruments are: the American Declaration, the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights, 53 the futemational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,54 the OAS Charter, the

American Convention, and the Democratic Charter. Additionally, this Commission should look

to the jurisprudence of the filter-American Court and to its own decisions, particularly the

decision in Statehood Solidarity Committee v. United States issued on December 29, 2003, to

determine the corresponding rights and obligations of Petitioners and the State.

The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties ofMan

59. The inter-American system for the protection of human rights emerged with the

adoption of the American Declaration in April 1948. The American Declaration is the first

international-human-rights instrument of a general nature, in fact predating the Universal

Declaration.

60. The American Declaration proclaims the will of the American States to protect

and promote the essential rights of the individual. Among those essential rights are the rights to

equality, to vote, and to participate in one's own government.

53
Hereinafter, "Universal Declaration."
54
Hereinafter, "International Covenant."

18
61. Specifically, the American Declaration provides, in its Article II, that: "All

persons are equal before the law and have the rights and duties established in this Declaration,

without distinction as to race, sex, language, creed or any other factor. " 55

62. The American Declaration also provides, in its Article XX, that: "Every person

having legal capacity is entitled to participate in the government of his country, directly or

through his representatives, and to take part in popular elections, which shall be by secret ballot,

and shall be honest, periodic and free." 56

63. Under the American Declaration, voting is not only a right but also a duty. This is

specifically recognized by Article XXXII of the American Declaration, which provides: "It is

the duty of every person to vote in the popular elections of the country of which he is a national,

when he is legally capable of doing so." 57

The Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights

64. Similarly, the Universal Declaration, which as seen followed the American

Declaration and which, although not directly administered by this Commission, is looked-upon

by it as an additional source of international standards, 58 was adopted and proclaimed by United

Nations General Assembly Resolution on December 10, 1948. 59

65. The Universal Declaration recognizes that: "All human beings are born free and

equal in dignity and rights." 60 The Universal Declaration also states that: "Everyone is entitled

55
American Declaration, art. II.
56
Id. at art. XX.
57
Id. at art. XXXII.
58
See, e.g., OAS Charter, art. 131 ("None of the provisions of this Charter shall be construed as impairing
the rights and obligations of the Member States under the Charter ofthe United Nations.").
59
See U.N. Res. 217 A (III).
60
Universal Declaration, art. 1.

19
to the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as

race, colour, sex, language, religion, politicaJ or other opinion, national or social origin, property,

birth or other status."61

66. Of particular relevance to the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico is the provision

in the Universal Declaration that states: "no distinction shall be made on the basis of the

political, jurisdictional or international status of the . . . territory to which a person belongs,

whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of

sovereignty. " 62

67. Specifically, the Universal Declaration recognizes that "[t]he will of the people ...

[is] the basis of the authority of govemment .... " 63 The Universal Declaration proclaims that

"[e}veryone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely

chosen representatives." 64 The Universal Declaration requires that the will of the people "be

expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and

shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."65 The Universal

Declaration recognizes the fundamental nature of these rights and the importance of their

protection by the rule of law "if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to

rebelling against tyranny and oppression .... " 66

61
Id. at art. 2(1).
62
Id. at art. 2(2).
63
Id. at art. 21, ~ 3.
64
Id. at art. 21, ~I.
65
Id. at art. 21, ~ 3.
66
Id. at pmbl.

20
68. The Universal Declaration also provides that: "All are equal before the law and

are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. All are entitled to

equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration .... " 67

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

69. The International Covenant, which just as with the Universal Declaration is not

directly administered by this Commission but serves as an additional source of international

standards, was adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution on December 16, 1966,

and entered into force on March 23, 1976. 68

70. Specifically, in the International Covenant, the States parties thereto, including

the United States, which ratified the treaty in 1992, stated that their "recognition of the inherent

dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the

foWldation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." 69 The States parties to the International

Covenant, including the United States, also made explicit in the document their recognition that

the rights recognized therein "derive from the inherent dignity of the human person."70 Under

the International Covenant, the States parties thereto, including the United States, acknowledged

their "obligation ... to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and

freedoms." 71 And under the International Covenant, the States parties thereto, including the

United States, stated their realization that "the individual, having duties to other individuals and

67
Id. at art. 7.
68
See U.N. Res. 2200A (XXI).
69
International Covenant, pmbl.
70 Id.
7t Id.

21
to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and

observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant."72

71. In the International Covenant, each State party, including the United States,

agreed to ''undertakeO to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to

its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind,

such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,

property, birth or other status."73

72. Under the International Covenant, each State party, including the United States,

agreed to undertake:

[w]here not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures


... the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and
with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such legislative or
other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized
in the present Covenant. 74

73. Among those rights recognized in the International Covenant are those described

in its Articles 25 and 26. Article 25 provides:

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the
distinctions mentioned in Article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or


through freely chosen representatives;

(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections


which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be
held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of
the will of the electors; [and]

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public


service in his country. 75
72
Id.
73
Id. at art. 2(1).
74
Id. at art. 2(2).
15
Id. at art. 25.

22
74. Article 26 of the International Covenant provides, in relevant part: "All persons

are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the

law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal

and effective protection against discrimination on any ground ...." 76

The Charter ofthe Organization ofAmerican States

75. The OAS Charter, though containing only a few such references, also includes

provisions specifically devoted to representative democracy, human rights, and equality. For

example, in adopting the Charter, the Member States of the OAS explicitly affinned their

conviction that "representative democracy is an indispensable condition for the stability, peace

and development of the region.'m Furthermore, one of the essential purposes for the

establishment of the OAS itself, as identified in the Charter, was and remains: "[t]o promote and

consolidate representative democracy ...." 78 In the Charter, the Member States also reaffirmed

the principle that: "The solidarity of the American States and the high aims which are sought

through it require the political organization of those States on the basis of the effective exercise
79
ofrepresentative democracy.'' Lastly, "[t]he Member States agree[d in the Charter] that ... the

full participation of their peoples in decisions relating to their own development are, among

others, basic objectives of integral development." 80

76
Id. at art. 26.
77
OAS Charter, pmbl.
78
Id. at art. 2(b).
79
Id. at art. 3(d).
80
Id. at art. 34.

23
The American Convention on Human Rights

76. This Commission, as mentioned, also looks to the American Convention to

determine the scope of the rights at issue.

77. The American Convention makes explicit the Hemispheric interest, "within the

framework of democratic institutions," in consolidating "a system of personal liberty and social
81
justice based on respect for the essential rights of man." According to the American

Convention, these essential rights "are not derived from one's being a national of a certain state,

but are based upon attributes of the human personality, and that they therefore justify

international protection ...."82

78. The American Convention requires, similarly to the International Covenant, that

"the rights and :freedoms recognized [t]herein ... [be] ensure[d] to all persons subject to the[

States parties'] jurisdiction ... without any discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex,

language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or

any other social condition. "83

79. The American Convention, similarly to the International Covenant, requires that,

"[w]here the exercise of any rights or freedoms [recognized therein] ... is not already ensured by

legislative or other provisions, the States Parties undertake to adopt, in accordance with their

constitutional processes and the provisions of this Convention, such legislative or other measures

as may be necessary to give effect to those rights or freedoms." 84

80. Article 23 of the American Convention provides:

81
American Convention, pmbl.
s2 Id.
83
Id. at art. 1(1).
84
Id. at art. 2.

24
1. Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and opportunities:

(a) to take part in the conduct of public affairs,


directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic


elections, which shall be by universal and equal
suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free
expression of the will of the voters; and

(c) to have access, under general conditions of


equality, to the public service of his country.

2. The law may regulate the exercise of the rights and opportunities
referred to in the preceding paragraph only on the basis of age, nationality,
residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing by
a competent court in criminal proceedings. 85

81. Article 24 of the American Convention provides: "All persons are equal before

the law. Consequently, they are entitled, without discrimination, to equal protection of the

law."86

82. Of particular relevance to the United States, which is constituted as a federal

State, the American Convention provides that: "the national government of such State Party

shall implement all the provisions of the Convention over whose subject matter it exercises

legislative and judicial jurisdiction."87 "With respect to the provision over whose subject matter

the constituent units of the federal state have jurisdiction," the American Convention provides

that: "the national government shall immediately take suitable measures, in accordance with its

constitution and its laws, to the end that the competent authorities of the constituent units may

adopt appropriate provisions for the fulfillment of this Convention." 88

85
Id. at art. 23.
86
Id. at art. 24.
87
Id. at art. 28(1).
88
Id. at art. 28(2).

25
The Inter-American Democratic Charter

83. The Democratic Charter, which (as mentioned) the OAS General Assembly

adopted in 2001, also imposes international obligations on the United States.

84. In the Democratic Charter, t~e OAS General Assembly "recognize[d] that

representative democracy is indispensable for the stability, peace, and development of the region,

and that one of the purposes of the OAS is to promote and consolidate representative

democracy." 89 Likewise, in the Democratic Charter the OAS General Assembly "recognize[ed]

that all the rights and obligations of member states under the OAS Charter represent the

foundation on which democratic principles in the Hemisphere are built. " 90

85. In the Democratic Charter, the OAS General Assembly recognized that "solidarity

among and cooperation between American states require the political organization of those states

based on the effective exercise of representative democracy, and that economic growth and

social development based on justice and equity, and democracy are interdependent and mutually

reinforcing. " 91

86. In the same Democratic Charter, the OAS General Assembly acknowledged that

''the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man and the American Convention on

Human Rights contain values and principles of liberty, equality, and social justice that are

intrinsic to democracy." 92 As such, one of the purposes of the Democratic Charter is simply to

aid in the "progressive development of international law and ... clarify[] the provisions set forth

89
Democratic Charter, pmbl.; see also Democratic Charter, arts. 1 ("Democracy is essential for the social,
political, and economic development of the peoples of the Americas.") and 11 ("Democracy and social and
economic development are interdependent and are mutually reinforcing.").
90
Democratic Charter, pmbl.
9t Id.
92 Id.

26
in the OAS Charter and related basic instruments on the preservation and defense of democratic

institutions, according to established practice." 93

87. Moreover, in the Democratic Charter the OAS General Assembly reaffirmed "that

the promotion and protection of human rights is a basic prerequisite for the existence of a

democratic society, and recogni[zed] the importance of the continuous development and

strengthening of the inter-American human rights system for the consolidation of democracy." 94

88. In that vein, the Democratic Charter expressed the conviction of the OAS General

Assembly that:

the Organization's mission is not limited to the defense of democracy


wherever its fWidamental values and principles have collapsed, but also
calls for ongoing and creative work to consolidate democracy as well as a
continuing effort to prevent and anticipate the very causes of the problems
that affect the democratic system of government. 95

89. Specifically, in Article 1, the Democratic Charter declared that: "The peoples of

the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote

and defend it."96

90. In Article 2, the Democratic Charter provides that:

The effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis for the rule
of law and of the constitutional regimes of the [M]ember [S]tates of the
Organization of American States. Representative democracy is
strengthened and deepened by permanent, ethical, and responsible
participation of the citizenry within a legal framework conforming to the
respective constitutional order. 97

91. In Article 3, the Democratic Charter states:

93 Id.
94 Id.
9s Id.
96
Id. at art. I.
97
Id. at art. 2.

27
Essential elements of representative democracy include, inter alia, respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to and the exercise of
power in accordance with the rule of law, the holding of periodic, free, and
fair elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage as an
expression of the sovereignty of the people .... 98

92. Of significance to Petitioners hereto, the Democratic Charter recognizes in its

Article 6 that: "It is the right and responsibility of all citizens to participate in decisions relating

to their own development. This is also a necessary condition for the full and effective exercise of
,,99
democracy ....

93. In its Article 7, the Democratic Charter states: "Democracy is indispensable for

the effective exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights in their universality,

indivisibility and interdependence, embodied in the respective constitutions of states and in inter-

American and international human rights instruments."

94. In an open invitation to potential petitioners m this Hemisphere to bring

appropriate claims under the same instrument, Article 8 of the Democratic Charter provides:

Any person or group of persons who consider that their human rights have
been violated may present claims or petitions to the inter-American system
for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with its
established procedures. Member [S]tates reaffirm their intention to
strengthen the inter-American system for the protection of human rights for
the consolidation of democracy in the Hemisphere. 100

(Certainly here, and consistently with the terms of Article 8 of the Democratic Charter,

Petitioners offer this Petition, alleging violations of their rights to participate in democratic

government, in accordance with all established procedures of this Commission.)

98
Id. at art. 3.
99
Id. at art. 6.
100
Id. at art. 8.

28
95. Furthermore, Article 9 of the Democratic Charter provides, in relevant part: "The

elimination of all forms of discrimination, especially ... ethnic and race discrimination, as well

as diverse forms of intolerance ... and respect for ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in the

Americas contribute to strengthening democracy and citizen participation."101

96. Finally, under Article 23 of the Democratic Charter, the OAS General Assembly

imposed on its: "Member [S]tates ... [the] responsib[ility] for organizing, conducting, and

ensuring free and fair electoral processes." 102

Precedent

97. The main precedent upon which Petitioners rely to bring the claims contained in

their Petition, although not by any means the exclusive one, is the case of Statehood Solidarity

Committee decided by this Commission on December 29, 2003.

98. The facts in Statehood Solidarity Committee, where this Commission ruled

against the United States, presented not as blatant a denial of the fundamental human rights at

stake than the facts alleged in this Petition. There, the Commission held that denying the citizens

of the District of Columbia the right to voting representation in their national legislature violates

both Article II (right to equality before law) and Article XX (right to vote and to participate in

government) of the American Declaration.

99. In support of its holding that the actions of the United States violate the rights of

the residents of the District of Columbia, the Commission referred to the "long recognized ...

significance of representative democracy and associated political rights to the effective

101
Id. at art. 9.
102
Id. at art. 23.

29
realization and protection of human rights more broadly in the hemisphere." 103 According to the

Commission:

[t]he participation of citizens in government, which is protected by Article


XX of the Declaration forms the basis and support of democracy, which
cannot exist without it; for title to government rests with the people, the
only body empowered to decide its own immediate and future destiny and
to designate its legitimate representatives.

Neither form of political life, nor institutional change, nor development


planning or the control of those who exercise public power can be made
without representative government.

[ ... ]

The right to political participation leaves room for a wide variety of forms
of government; there are many constitutional alternatives as regards the
degree of centralization of the powers of the state or the election and
attributes of the organs responsible for the exercise of those powers.
However, a democratic framework is an essential element for establishment
of a political society where human values can be fully realized. 104

100. In Statehood Solidarity Committee, the Commission expressed its view that

"those provisions of the system's human rights instruments that guarantee political rights,

including Article XX of the American Declaration, must be interpreted and applied so as to give

meaningful effect to [the] exercise ofrepresentative democracy in this Hemisphere." 105

101. In interpreting the scope of the rights at stake, the Commission recognized in

Statehood Solidarity Committee that "a degree of autonomy must be afforded to [S]tates in

organizing their political institutions so as to give effect to these rights, as the right to political

participation leaves room for a wide variety of forms of government." 106 As the Commission has

103
Statehood Solidarity Committee at, 85.
104
Id., quoting Inter-Am. C.H.R., Doctrine of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (1971-
1981), in Ten Years of Activities 1971-1981, Washington, D.C., 1982, p. 334.
105
Statehood Solidarity Committee at, 87.
106
Id. at, 88.

30
appreciated, "its role or objective is not to create a uniform model of representative democracy

for all states, but rather is to determine whether a state's laws infringe fundamental human

rights." 107

102. While making clear that "not all differences in treatment are prohibited wider

international human rights law, and [that] this applies equally to the right to participate in

government," 108 the Commission also made clear in Statehood Solidarity Committee that "[t]his

does not mean ... that the conduct of [S]tates in giving effect to the right to representative

government ... is immune from review by the Commission." 109 "Rather," the Commission held,

"certain minimum standards or conditions exist respecting the manner in which this right is given

effect which must be shown to have been satisfied." 110

103. fu Statehood Solidarity Committee, the Commission stated that "[t]hese standards

or conditions relate primarily to the nature of permissible limitations that may be imposed on the

exercise of such rights."m fu this regard, the Commission stated that the limitations are

provided in the exhaustive list included in Article 23(2) of the American Convention, i.e.,

"namely ... age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or

sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings." 112

104. More generally, the Commission held in Statehood Solidarity Committee that "its

role in evaluating the right to participate in government is to ensure that any differential

101 Id.
ios Id.
109
Id. at if 89.
uo Id.
Ill Id.
112
Id.

31
treatment in providing for this right lacks any objective and reasonable justification."113 fu the

Commission's own words:

in securing the equal protection of human rights, [S]tates may draw


distinctions among different situations and establish categories for certain
groups of individuals, so long as it [sic] pursues [sic] a legitimate end, and
so long as the classification is reasonably and fairly related to the end
pursued by the legal order. And as with other fundamental rights,
restrictions or limitations upon the right to participate in government must
be justified by the need of them in the framework of a democratic society,
as demarcated by the means, their motives, reasonability and
proportionality. At the same time, in making these determinations, the
Commission must take due account of the State's degree of autonomy in
organizing its political institutions and should only interfere where the
State has curtailed the very essence and effectiveness of a petitioner's right
to participate in his or her government. 114

105. After taking account of all of these concerns, the Commission found in Statehood

Solidarity Committee that the representation afforded to the residents of the District of Columbia

in Congress - where, and just like U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, residents may send only a non-

voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives and no Senators to the U.S. Senate - is

"meaningless." 115 "Accordingly," the Commission held that, because the "arrangement" under

which the residents of the District of Columbia attempt to exercise any political power deprives

them of "effective participation in their legislature," "the Commission [simply] cannot accept" 116

it:

Despite the existence of this significant and direct legislative authority that
Congress exercises over the Petitioners and other residents of the District of
Columbia, however, the Petitioners have no effective right to vote upon
those legislative measures, directly or through freely chosen
representatives, and it is not apparent from the record that Congress is
responsible to the Petitioners for those measures by some other means. In

113
Id. aqf 90.
114 Id.
115
Id. at 'if 97.
116 Id.

32
this manner, Congress exercises expansive authority over the Petitioners,
and yet it is in no way effectively accountable to the Petitioners, or other
citizens residing in the District of Columbia. This, in the Commission's
view, has deprived the Petitioners of the very essence of representative
government, namely that title to government rests with the people
govemed. 117

106. The U.S. government's violations in Statehood Solidarity Committee pale in

comparison to the violations of the rights of Petitioners hereto and of the four million other U.S.

citizens residing in Puerto Rico. The U.S. citizens resident of the District of Columbia, which

the U.S. Census Bureau currently estimates at approximately 550,521, 118 had (and have) the right

to participate in PresidentialNice Presidential elections. In contrast, the four million U.S.

citizens resident in Puerto Rico are not only denied voting representation in Congress (like the

District of Columbia), but also cannot vote for President and Vice President. If the Commission

found that the residents of the District of Columbia were (and are) being denied "the very

essence of representative government," the situation of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico is

exponentially worse.

107. Certainly, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico are no less citizens of the United States

than the U.S. citizens living in the District of Columbia or, for that matter, than the U.S. citizens

living anywhere in the United States. As such, the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico do not

deserve any less protection from this Commission than the petitioners received in Statehood

Solidarity Committee.

108. In addition to Statehood Solidarity Committee, there are other precedents in which

this Commission has recognized that violations of the right to participate in representative

117
Id. at~ 103.
118
See U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 Population Estimates.

33
government contravene American human-rights law. Worth mentioning here are the cases of:

Andres Aylwin Azocar v. Chile 119 and Susana Higuchi Miyagawa v. Peru. 120

109. lnAylwin, the Commission considered whether a Chilean constitutional provision,

which allowed a life term for designated senators, violated citizens' rights to political

participation and to equal protection as guaranteed by Articles 23 and 24 of the American

Convention.

110. As part of its evaluation of the claims made in the case, the Commission declared

in Aylwin that "only through the effective exercise of representative democracy can human rights

be fully guaranteed." 121 The Commission also stated that: "There is a conception in the inter-

American system of the fundamental importance of representative democracy as a legitimate

mechanism for achieving the realization of and respect for human rights; and as a human right

itself, whose observance and defense was entrusted to the Commission."122

111. In Aylwin, and as seen as well in Statehood Solidarity Committee, the

Commission held that, to determine that a violation of the right to participate in representative

government has occurred, ''the Commission's ... role ... is to ensure that any differential

treatment in providing for this right lacks any objective and reasonable justification."123

112. In Aylwin, the Commission shifted "the burden of proving the legitimate aim" to

the defendant State. Thus, Petitioners herein maintain that it is the United States, and not them,

that bears the burden of proving that the deprivation at the national level of fundamental political

rights to the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico serves any legitimate aim in this case, because

119
Inter-Am. C.H.R., Report No. 137.99, Case 11.863 (1999).
120
Inter-Am. C.H.R., Case 11.428, Report No. 119/99 (1999).
121
Aylwin at, 39.
122
Id. at~ 46.
123
Statehood Solidarity Committee at, 90; Aylwin at,, 99, 10 l.

34
Petitioners plead that the Commission find that there is no objective or reasonable justification

for depriving them of their rights to vote and to participate in representative government.

113. In finding that Chile did violate Articles 23 and 24 of the American Convention,

the Commission reasoned inAylwin that:

Representative democracy - one of whose key elements is the popular


election of those who hold political power - is the form of organization of
the [S]tate explicitly adopted by the [M]ember [S]tates of the Organization
of American States. In contrast to the United Nations, the inter-American
system has incorporated an express provision in its Charter, Article 3(d),
according to which the solidarity of the American [S]tates and the high
aims of the Charter require a form of political organization based on the
effective exercise ofrepresentative democracy. 124

114. In Aylwin, the Commission found violations when citizens were prevented from

electing a handful of seats in their national legislature. In Puerto Rico, not one of the four

million U.S. citizens resident therein has the right to elect the President or Vice President or

voting Representatives or Senators to the United States Congress. Indeed, the situation in Puerto

Rico deprives Petitioners of their rights to vote and to political participation in an extremely

more severe manner than that involved in Aylwin.

115. Similarly in Higu,chi, the Commission was presented with allegations that the

State, in that case Peru, was violating several provisions of the American Convention.

Specifically, the allegations concerned the Peruvian National Elections Board's denial of the

petitioner's standing as a political candidate.

116. In response, the Commission held that Peru violated the petitioner's right to

political participation as guaranteed in Article 23. The Commission also found that Peru

deprived the petitioner of her right to equal protection under Article 24 of the American

Convention when she was denied standing as a political candidate.

124
Aylwin at~ 31 (emphasis in original).

35
117. In Higuchi, a single political candidate was denied the right of political

participation and related right to equal protection. In Puerto Rico, by comparison, and contrary

to the U.S. citizens living in the 50 States, four million U.S. citizens have absolutely no right or

no effective rights to vote and to political participation at the national level.

118. Statehood Solidarity Committee, Aylwin, and Higuchi are but a few of the cases

that provide support for Petitioners' claims. These and other cases, as well as the American and

international laws previously discussed, provide the basis for the following claims to the specific

human-rights violations with which Petitioners herein charge the State.

VII.
HUMAN-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

119. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to equality before the law under Article II of the American

Declaration.

120. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to vote under Article XX of the American Declaration.

121. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to participate in their government under Article XX of the

American Declaration.

122. Petitioners accuse the State of illegally impeding, obstructing, and preventing

them, and all other similarly situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, from performing their duty to

vote in the popular elections of their country, in violation of Article XXXII of the American

Declaration.

123. Petitioners accuse the State of illegally impeding, obstructing, and preventing

them, and all other similarly situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, from effectively holding any

36
public office in their country at the national level, in violation of Article XXXN of the

American Declaration.

124. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to democracy under Article 1 of the Democratic Charter.

125. Petitioners accuse the State of failing in its obligation to promote and defend

democracy for the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico under Article 1 of the Democratic Charter.

126. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to universal suffrage as an expression of the sovereignty of

the people under Article 3 of the Democratic Charter.

127. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to participate in periodic, free, and fair elections at the

national level, in violation of Article 3 of the Democratic Charter.

128. Petitioners accuse the State of violating their right, and the right of all similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, to participate in decisions relating to their own

development under Article 6 of the Democratic Charter.

129. Petitioners accuse the State of illegally impeding, obstructing, and preventing

them, and all other similarly situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, from meeting their

responsibility to participate in decisions relating to their own development, in violation of Article

6 of the Democratic Charter.

130. Petitioners accuse the State of failing to strengthen the inter-American system for

the protection of human rights for the consolidation of democracy in this Hemisphere, m

violation of Article 8 of the Democratic Charter.

37
131. Petitioners accuse the State of failing to eliminate discrimination, especially

ethnic and linguistic discrimination, and thereby weakening democracy and citizen participation,

in violation of Article 9 of the Democratic Charter.

132. Petitioners accuse the State of failing to respect how Puerto Rico's ethnic and

cultural diversity strengthens democracy and citizen participation in the United States, in

violation of Article 9 of the Democratic Charter.

133. Petitioners accuse the State of failing to organize, conduct, and ensure free and

fair national electoral processes for the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico under Article 23 of the

Democratic Charter.

VIII.
EXHAUSTION OF DOMESTIC REMEDIES

134. Article 31 (1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure requires that petitioners, in

general, establish that they have exhausted domestic remedies before the Commission may

decide on the admissibility of their matters. 125

135. However, the same Article 31, in subsection (2), provides exceptions to this

exhaustion-of-domestic-remedies requirement where "the domestic legislation of the State

concerned does not afford due process of law for protection of the right or rights that have

allegedly been violated," 126 where "the party alleging violation of his or her rights has been

denied access to the remedies under domestic law or has been prevented from exhausting

125
Article 31(1) provides: "In order to decide on the admissibility ofa matter, the Commission shall verify
whether the remedies of the domestic legal system have been pursued and exhausted in accordance with the
generally recognized principles of international law."
126
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 31(2)(a).

38
them," 127 or when "there has been unwarranted delay in rendering a final judgment under the
128
aforementioned remedies."

136. Article 31 also provides, in its subsection (3), that: "When the petitioner contends

that he or she is unable to prove compliance with the requirements indicated in this article, it

shall be up to the State concerned to demonstrate to the Commission that the remedies under

domestic law have not been previously exhausted, unless that is clearly evident from the

record." 129

137. The State here is well aware of all the futile attempts at judicial redress that have

been undertaken, since the United States first acquired the territory of Puerto Rico, to bring about

the rights to vote for PresidentNice President and voting representation in Congress.

Accordingly, Petitioners highly doubt that the State could ever maintain in good faith or would

dare here in opposition to this Petition argue that either domestic judicial efforts remain to be

exhausted or even that domestic judicial remedies exist, in the first place, that could ever grant

Petitioners or any of the approximately four million other U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico

the remedies Petitioners seek (i.e., the rights to vote for PresidentNice President and equal

voting representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate.)

138. The attempts at judicial redress have been futile because the most fundamental

domestic legislation of the United States (i.e., its own Constitution) does not afford due process

of law for the protection of the rights at stake. This is so because, under the governmental

scheme established by the U.S. Constitution itself, only States and the District of Columbia have

the power to appoint electors to the national Electoral College, which as seen elects the President

127
Id. at art. 31(2)(b).
128
Id. at art. 31(2)(c).
129
Id. at art. 31(3).

39
and Vice President, and only "the People of the several States" 130 have the right to vote for

voting Representatives and Senators.

139. The regrettable fact is that there simply seems to be no judicial mechanism in the

United States, at the present time, that would grant the right to vote for President, Vice President,

and voting members of Congress to the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico.

140. Were there ever any substantial doubts that the domestic courts of the United

States cannot afford any remedies to any U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico who as plaintiffs,

through litigation and eventual adjudication, would seek the domestic right to vote on equal

terms in national elections, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, within which

jurisdiction Puerto Rico falls, totally dispelled them recently in its en bane opinion in the case of

Igartua-de la Rosa v. United States. 131

141. While the facts in Igartua related exclusively to a claimed right to vote in

Presidential/Vice Presidential elections for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, the court's holding,

which was effectively affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of a writ of certiorari on

March 20, 2006, 132 applies as well to any claimed right to voting representation in Congress.

142. In Igartita, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit "put," as it

stated, "the constitutional claim fully at rest:" 133

It does no good to stress how important is "the right to vote".... Although


we recognize the loyalty, contributions, and sacrifices of those who are in
common citizens of Puerto Rico and the United States, much the same
could have been said about the citizens of the District of Columbia, who
were voteless over a much longer period. The path to changing the

130
U.S. Const. art. I,§ 2, ~I ("The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every
second Year by the People of the several States ...."); U.S. Const. amend. XVII ("The Senate of the United States
shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years .... ").
131
417 F.3d 145 (1st Cir. 2005). The court's opinion inlgar!Ua is attached hereto as Exhibit C.
132
See Jgarrua v. United States, 126 S. Ct. 1569 (2006).
133
JgartUa, 417 F.3d at 148.

40
Constitution lies not through the courts but through the constitutional
amending process, U.S. Const. art. V; and the road to statehood- if that is
what Puerto Rico's citizens want - runs through Congress. U.S. Const.
art. IV, § 3, cl. 1. 134

143. The Igartua court also stated: "The case for giving Puerto Ricans the right to vote

. . . is fundamentally a political one and must be made through political means. But the right

claimed cannot be implemented by courts unless Puerto Rico becomes a [S]tate or until the

Constitution is changed .... " 135

144. And the Igartua court declared: "Changes to the Constitution and the present

status of Puerto Rico are not the province of federal judges, nor are they [in the court's view]

dictated by international law; those changes can only be adopted as set forth in the Constitution

and laws of the United States." 136

145. Thus, and again, the domestic legislation of the United States "does not afford

[through judicial means] due process oflaw for [the] protection of the right or rights that have ...

been violated." 137

146. Moreover, neither have the political processes, theoretically available in the

United States, afforded Petitioners nor any of the approximately four million other U.S. citizens

living in the territory of Puerto Rico any redress for the claimed violations.

147. The political processes are only ''theoretically available" because, practically, the

very fact that Puerto Rico's U.S. citizens cannot vote in PresidentialNice Presidential elections

and have no voting representation in their national legislature, as the citizens of the 50 States can

134 Id.
135
Id. at 151.
136
Id. at 152.
137
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 31(2)(a).

41
and do, means they have no effective way of influencing the political branches of their own

national government.

148. The lack of effective political influence is evident from the fact that, since the

United States first acquired Puerto Rico and despite the most overwhelming of efforts, the U.S.

Congress and the President have failed to permanently resolve the matter of this territory. That

the efforts, which for over 20 years have included the direct efforts of Petitioner Rossel16, and

which efforts have also included those of several of Petitioner Committee's members and of

many other individuals, have been overwhelming is conclusively demonstrated by the list of

Congressional and Presidential failures to resolve Puerto Rico's status as evidenced in the

attached Exhibit D.

149. Were the political processes to have resulted in the actual adoption of legislation

by the Congress, which could have then been signed into law by the President, Petitioners and

the approximately four million other U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico could have perhaps

eventually been afforded a remedy to the illegal, illegitimate, and discriminatory circumstances

in which they find themselves. But, as the record shows, that has not happened.

150. Were the State here tempted, however, to maintain before this Commission that

the political divisions within the territory of Puerto Rico, brought mostly about because of the

State's own inaction for over a century, are the reason for the State's failure to adopt those

measures that would grant full and equal voting rights at the national level to the U.S. citizens of

Puerto Rico if statehood is what those citizens chose and the Congress and the President agree to

admit Puerto Rico as a State, the State's argument would be nothing better than one in which it is

blaming the victims for the victims' own circumstances. But the United States, and not the

people of Puerto Rico, is ultimately responsible for this situation. The blame lies in Washington,

42
not in San Juan. And Petitioners respectfully submit that it is this Commission's responsibility to

hold the State responsible.

151. The issue of Puerto Rico's status is not, however, one that Petitioners seek to have

this Commission resolve (in any event, this Commission has no such authority). The only issue

before this Commission is whether the State is in violation of the internationally recognized

rights of Petitioners and the approximately four million other U.S. citizens residing in the

tenitory of Puerto Rico as asserted herein. The rights asserted herein are rights that are due

Puerto Ricans, under international law, as citizens of the United States regardless of the colonial

status of the island.

152. In any case, the fact remains that Petitioners and other similarly situated citizens

have attempted to exhaust all judicial and political means. In Statehood Solidarity Committee,

this Commission recognized that the State did not afford due process of law to the residents of

the District of Columbia for the protection of their rights, similar to Petitioners' and

approximately four million other U.S. citizens' rights being violated here. 138

153. Similarly here, since this case involves the same State, with identical domestic

legislation, but facts much more alarming than those in that earlier case, this Commission should

also hold that the State does not afford due process of law to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico

who wish to vote for President, Vice President, and voting members of Congress. Accordingly,

this Commission should hold that Petitioners meet the requirements of both subsections (1) and

(2)(a) of Article 31 of its Rules of Procedure.

154. To the extent, however, that the theoretically available political means have not

been exhausted, Petitioners state that they have been denied access to the actual remedies those

138
See Statehood Solidarity Committee at if1 9 5, 97.

43
means could have brought about and, furthermore, Petitioners have been prevented from

exhausting them by the very circumstances of their lack of political influence at the national

level due to the State's denial to them of equal voting rights. Accordingly, the Commission

should also hold that Petitioners meet the requirements of Article 31(2)(b) of its Rules of

Procedure.

155. In truth, all efforts to bring about effective political rights at the national level for

the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, be these efforts through judicial or political means, have thus far

failed. For 108 years since Puerto Rico first became a territory of the United States, and 89 years

since its residents first became U.S. citizens, the Congress and the President have jointly and

utterly failed to permanently resolve this matter. Accordingly, the Commission should hold that

Petitioners also meet the requirements of Article 31(2)(c) ofits Rules of Procedure.

156. As this Commission stated in Statehood Solidarity Committee: "It is in large part

because the domestic political and legal procedures have failed to resolve the complaints raised

by the Petitioners that the Commission has exercised its reinforcing and complementary

jurisdiction to evaluate their complaint, in light of the United States' international human rights

obligations. " 139 The Commission should similarly exercise here its reinforcing and

complementary jurisdiction to evaluate this Petition.

157. Thus, because Petitioners and many other U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico have

exhausted domestic remedies, and because, in any case, U.S. domestic legislation does not afford

due process of law to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico for the protection of their claimed rights to

vote in Presidential/Vice Presidential elections and in elections for voting members of Congress,

and because Petitioners and the approximately four million other U.S. citizens living in Puerto

139
Id. at 'If 114.

44
Rico have been denied access to whatever remedies theoretically (although not practically, this

redundancy- and as discussed - worth the stress) may be available under domestic law and have

been prevented from exhausting them, and finally, because after 108 years there can be no doubt

that there has been an unwarranted delay in rendering a final judgment that the people of Puerto

Rico, U.S. citizens since 1917, have and deserve the right, as described, to vote and to participate

in their own country's government, it is up to the United States to demonstrate to this

Commission what remedies under domestic law have not been exhausted.

158. Because the State will simply be unable to carry its burden to demonstrate to this

Commission that there exist domestic remedies that have not been previously exhausted, this

Commission should rule that Petitioners meet all of the requirements of Article 31 of the

Commission Rules of Procedure, admit their Petition, and proceed with the adjudication of their

case on the merits.

IX.
TIMELINESS

159. Article 32(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure permits this Commission to

"consider those petitions that are lodged within a period of six-months following the date on

which the alleged victim has been notified of the decision that exhausted domestic remedies." 140

160. Alternatively, Article 32(2) of the Commission Rules of Procedure provides that:

[i]n those cases in which the exceptions to the requirement of prior


exhaustion of domestic remedies are applicable the petition shall be
presented within a reasonable period of time, as determined by the
Commission. For this purpose, the Commission shall consider the date on
which the alleged violation of rights occurred and the circumstances of
each case. 141

14
° Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 32(1).
141
Id. at art. 32(2).

45
161. Because the violations alleged in this Petition are of a continuing nature in that

they have not been remedied by the State, despite repeated efforts, and because the violations

recur every two to four years (in elections for Representatives and Senators to the Congress142)

and every four years (for President and Vice President143 ) - with the last violations having

occurred on November 2, 2004, and which violations (unless remedied) shall recur on November

7, 2006 (for Congressional elections) and on November 4, 2008 (for both Presidential/Vice

Presidential and Congressional elections) - the six-month rule under Article 32(1) of the

Commission Rules of Procedure is inapplicable and this Petition has been presented within a

reasonable period of time under Article 32(2) of the same Rules. Therefore, this Petition is

timely. 144

x.
NO DUPLICATION OF PROCEDURES

162. Article 33(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure prohibits this Commission

from considering a Petition if it "is pending settlement pursuant to another procedure before an

international governmental organization of which the State concerned is a member; or ...

essentially duplicates a petition pending or already examined and settled by the Commission or

142
The U.S. Constitution provides that Representatives are to be elected for two-year terms. See U.S.
Const. art. I, § 2, cl. 1. Senators, on the other hand, are elected to six-year tenns, but the U.S. Constitution requires
that the Senate be divided into three classes for purposes of elections to be held every two years. See U.S. Const.
art. I, § 3, els.I and 2.
143
See U.S. Const. art. II, § I, cl. l.
144
See De Becker v. Belgium, App. N° 214/56, 1958 Yearbook of the Eur. Conv. H.R., Vol. II, at 236-38
(six-month rule is inapplicable when petition concerns legal provision that involves permanent state of affairs for
which there is no domestic remedy); see also Blake Case, 1996 Inter-Am Ct. H.R., Judgment on the Preliminary
Objections, ml 39-40 (July 12, 1996) ("in accordance with ... principles of international law ... the violation of
human rights ... may be prolonged continuously or permanently .... In light of the above, ... [t]he Court is therefore
competent to examine the possible violations ...."); Morales De Sierra v. Guatemala, Case 11.625, Inter-Am.
C.H.R., Report No. 28/98, OEA/Ser. L/V/11.98, doc. 7 rev.~ 29 (1998) ("Given the nature of the claims raised,
which concern the ongoing effects [of the alleged human-rights violations] ... which remain[] in force, the six-
months rule creates no bar to the admissibility of this case ....").

46
by another international governmental organization of which the State concerned 1s a

member." 145

163. Because this Petition is not pending before any other international forum, and

because it does not duplicate another petition pending or previously considered by this

Commission, the Commission may consider this Petition consistently with the requirements of

Article 33(1) of its Rules of Procedure.

XI.
COLORABLE CLAIM

164. Article 34 of the Commission Rules of Procedure requires the Commission to

declare inadmissible "any petition or case ... [that] does not state facts that tend to establish a

violation of the [protected] rights[; or when] the statements of the petitioner or of the State

indicate that it is manifestly groundless or out of order; or . . . [when] supervening information or

evidence presented to the Commission reveals that a matter is inadmissible or out of order." 146

165. Petitioners herein have outlined in this Petition enough facts and stated claims

that, when shown to be true in the process of the adjudication of this matter, will establish the

violation of rights protected under the American Declaration and the Democratic Charter.

166. Accordingly, this Commission should conclude that this Petition 1s not

inadmissible under Article 34 of the Commission Rules of Procedure.

XII.
CONSENT OF SOME VICTIMS DOES NOT EXCUSE
STATE'S OBLIGATIONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW

167. That some (in decreasing numbers) of the four million U.S. citizens residing in

Puerto Rico, including members of the PPD-colonialist party, not only consent to but approve,

145
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 33(1).
146
Id. at art. 34.

47
encourage, aid, and conspire in the violations of their own fundamental human rights does not

excuse the State's noncompliance with its obligations under international law, nor does it deprive

this Commission of jurisdiction. As this Commission has often stated: "in virtue of the public

order of human rights, even the . . . consent of a victim to a violation does not validate the

violative act of a State, nor does it affect the competence of the international organ to whom the

States have entrusted their protection." 147

XllI.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF COMMUNICATIONS
148
168. In compliance with Article 28(b) of the Commission Rules of Procedure, and

despite the locally well-known, documented, recent, and ongoing political persecution that

Petitioner Rossell6 and other supporters of Puerto Rico statehood have been, and continue to this

day to be, the victims of by those governmental officials and structures and economic interests

and forces within the island or from the mainland that support the current colonial status, 149

Petitioners inform the Commission that neither their identity nor, for that matter, any other

information contained in this Petition or any communications hereinafter related to this case (by

Petitioners, the State, or any other party) need be withheld from the State or the public or kept in

any way confidential. On the contrary, it is Petitioners' sincerest hope that this Commission will

establish as transparent a process as possible for the adjudication of this case and would seek to

educate and publicize to the widest audience the illegal denial of fundamental political rights at

the national level in the United States to the people of Puerto Rico. Through these means, the

147
Morales De Sierra, supra at~ 33; see also Disabled Peoples' International v. United States, Inter-Am.
C.H.R., Application N° 9213, Decision on Admissibility,~ 3 (1987) ("the Commission does not require the consent
of the victim in order to admit the petition").
148
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 28(b) requires petitions addressed to the Commission to include a
statement "whether the petitioner wishes that his or her identity be withheld from the State."
149
If it becomes necessary, Petitioners may present such evidence to the Commission at the appropriate
time.

48
Commission would give effect to one of its most basic functions, which is "to develop an
150
awareness ofhwnan rights among the peoples of the Americas."

XIV.
RIGHT TO PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

169. Article 25(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure permits this Commission to

request, in serious and urgent cases, that the State concerned adopt precautionary measures to

prevent irreparable harm to persons. 151

170. The Commission's authority to receive and grant requests for precautionary

measures under Article 25(1) of its Rules of Procedure 1s, as with the practice of other

international bodies, 152 a well-established and necessary component of the Commission's

processes. 153

171. Indeed, where precautionary measures are considered essential to preserving the

Commission's very mandate under the OAS Charter, the Commission has ruled that OAS

Member States are subject to an international legal obligation to comply with a request for such

measures. 154

172. The Commission's authority to issue precautionary measures is even independent

of the exhaustion-of-domestic-remedies requirement.

° Commission Statute, art. 18(a).


15

151
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 25(1) ("In serious and urgent cases, and whenever necessary
according to the information available, the Commission may, on its own initiative or at the request of a party,
request that the State concerned adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to persons.").
152
See, e.g., Statute of the International Court of Justice, 59 Stat. 1055, art. 41; Rules of Procedure of the
United Nations Human Rights Committee, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/3/Rev. 6, art. 86; Rules of Procedure of the European
Commission of Human Rights, revised Rules updated to May 7, 1983, art. 36; Rules of Procedure of the African
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, adopted on October 6, 1995, art. 111.
153
See Annual Reports of the Inter-Am. C.H.R., 1996-2006.
154
See Inter-Am. C.H.R., Fifth Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Guatemala,
OEASer.UV/11.111 doc. 21 rev. (April 6, 2001), ifif 71-72; Juan Raw Garza v. United States, Case No. 12.243,
Report No. 52/01, Annual Report of the Inter-Am. C.H.R. 2000, 11117.

49
173. Petitioners respectfully urge that this Commission request, under its Article 25(1),

that the State issue precautionary measures to prevent any of the aforementioned human-rights

violations if, in advance of the national elections to be held on November 4, 2008, it becomes

evident to the Commission that the State would otherwise deprive Petitioners and the

approximately four million other U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico of their rights, under all applicable

regional instruments, to vote and to participate in their national government.

174. There can be no question that the denial of the right to vote and to participate in

one's country's own government is a serious matter deserving of this Commission's exercise of

its authority under Article 25(1).

175. The rights to vote and to participate in government are, among other rights such

as the rights to life and to freedom of conscience and religion, so :fundamental that, under this

Hemisphere's human-rights instruments and precedent, they cannot be suspended even during a

period of national emergency. 155

176. If these rights cannot be suspended during a period of national emergency, they

certainly ought not be denied at the present time, where no national emergency has been declared

by the United States.

177. Because the ranking of these rights places them in a sphere where they cannot be

suspended even during a period of national emergency, the violation of these rights by any State

would certainly be a serious matter.

178. But the denial of equal and effective voting rights at the national level to the U.S.

citizens of Puerto Rico does not only qualify as an eminently and undeniably serious matter, but

the denial of these rights will continue to expose Petitioners and all other similarly situated

155
See American Convention, art. 27(1) (Suspension of Guarantees) and (2) ("The foregoing provision
does not authorize any suspension of the following articles: ... Article 23 (Right to Participate in Government) .... ").

50
individuals to imminent danger and irreparable harm within the meaning of those terms in

Article 25(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure.

179. The imminence of the danger is patently evident. While the next national

elections are, as mentioned, to be held on November 7, 2006, Petitioners recognize that the State

will not be in any realistic position to provide them by that time with an effective remedy.

However, if November 4, 2008 - the date of the very next national elections - approaches

without any indication from the State that the illegal situation in which Petitioners and the four

million other U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico find themselves will be remedied to permit

them to cast their votes in that and all other subsequent elections, this Commission's request to

the State for precautionary measures will become not only appropriate but necessary.

180. Moreover, if Petitioners and the approximately four million other U.S. citizens

residing in Puerto Rico are not permitted to exercise their internationally recognized fundamental

human rights to vote and to participate in their own country's government, they will surely stand

to suffer irreparable harm. Obviously, once prevented from exercising it, the right to vote is lost

forever for purposes of that election, with all attendant consequences both locally as well as

nationally.

181. Precautionary measures have been ordered in the past not only where there are

threats to life or physical injury or prior restraints on freedom of expression, but also for

violations of the regionally and internationally recognized rights to vote and to participate in

one's country's government.

182. For example, in the before-mentioned Higu,chi case, the Commission granted the

petitioner precautionary measures calling on the government of Peru "to provisionally register

51
the list of candidates to the National Congress of the ... independent party [represented by the

petitioner] until a decision is reached on the merits of the case."156

183. Other cases exist where the Commission has granted precautionary measures

where the facts were not as alarming as the deprivation of :fundamental human rights involved in

this Petition. 157

184. In determining the scope of its authority to issue precautionary measures, this

Commission should take into consideration not only its previous decisions but also the

jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on the grant of provisional measures. 158

185. In La Nacion Newspaper v. Costa Rica, 159 for example, the Inter-American Court

issued provisional measures in a case where a libel judgment was executed against a journalist,

in large measure because the effects could otherwise never have been eliminated retroactively,

the harmful situation would have been prolonged unnecessarily, and the impingement on the

journalist's freedom of expression would have had the most serious effects on the expression of

Costa Rican society and its democratic values.

186. Similarly here, as the 2008 national elections approach without real and concrete

steps taken by the State to remedy this situation to permit its U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico to vote

and to participate in their government, precautionary measures would be appropriate because the

harmful effects of these citizens' non-participation in that and all subsequent elections could

156
Higuchi, supra at~ 10(1).
157
See, e.g., Mary and Carrie Dann v. United States (Dann Band of the Western Shoshone Nation), Case
11.140, No. 99/99 (facts involved protection of individual property).
158
Although, as seen, the United States is not a party to the American Convention, and thus Article 25 of
the Commission Rules of Procedure applies rather than Article 63 of the American Convention, due to the similarity
between these two provisions, jurisprudence interpreting Article 63 is relevant in interpreting the Commission's
scope ofauthority.
159
Provisional Measures, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., May 23, 2001.

52
never be eliminated retroactively, the harmful situation would be prolonged unnecessarily, and

most certainly the impingement on these citizens' participatory rights would have the most

serious of effects on the expression of Puerto Rican society, specifically, and generally of society

in the United States at the national level, and obviously on their fundamental democratic values.

187. When seeking precautionary measures, there is usually a need to identify

individually the people who are in danger of suffering irreparable harm. 160 This does not always

have to be the case, however. In Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado,161 the Inter-

American Court did not require that individuals be specifically identified because they formed

part of an organized community, located in a determined geographic place, whose members

could be identified and individualized, and who, due to their membership in the community,

faced similar risks. The Inter-American Court was thereby within its legitimate authority to deal

with the community collectively.

188. Similarly here, Petitioners and the four million other U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico

are, obviously, located in a determined geographic place and, by virtue of their U.S. citizenship,

their identities are known to, or could readily be ascertained by, the government of the United

States. In addition, these citizens are all in a situation of similar risk of continuing injury to their

fundamental human rights. Petitioners therefore submit that precautionary measures may be

issued for all U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico as a group, ifthe need arises, prior to the 2008

national elections.

189. Incidentally, under the State's own domestic legislation, deprivation of voting

rights to citizens (other than Petitioners and the four million other individuals residing in Puerto

160
See, e.g., Case of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian Origin, Provisional Measures, Inter-Am. Ct.
H.R., Aug. 18, 2000.
161
Provisional Measures, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., Oct. 9, 2000.

53
Rico) have frequently been remedied with temporary restraining orders or preliminary

injunctions, which may only be granted- again, under the State's own domestic legislation - in

the case of imminent danger and irreparable harm, which are the very same standards applicable
162
in the case of precautionary measures issued by this Commission.

190. Thus, if it becomes necessary, this Commission should request that the State issue

precautionary measures in advance of the national elections being held in 2008 in the hope that

this Commission's request would cause the State to permit Petitioners and all other similarly

situated citizens in Puerto Rico to vote for President, Vice President, and voting members of

Congress in that and all subsequent elections.

191. Upon the Commission's request to the State to issue precautionary measures,

Petitioners would respectfully also request that the State provide the Commission with

information concerning compliance with these measures within 30 days of receipt of the

communication, and thereafter on a periodic basis, while the Commission continues with the

evaluation of Petitioners' case on the merits.

xv.
DESIGNATION OF ATTORNEY

192. Pursuant to Article 23 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 163 Petitioners

designate as their counsel undersigned attorney ORLANDO E. VIDAL, of the Washington, D.C.

office of the U.S. law firm of Sullivan & Worcester, LLP to represent them in all matters related

to the prosecution of the claims contained in this Petition before this Commission and in the

OAS.

162
See, e.g., Cardona v. Oakland Unified School Dist., 785 F. Supp. 837, 840 (N.D. Cal. 1992)
("Abridgement or dilution of a right so fundamental as the right to vote constitutes irreparable injury." ).
163
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 23 provides, in relevant part: "The petitioner may designate an
attorney or other person to represent him or her before the Commission, either in the petition itself or in another
writing."

54
XVI.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF

193. WHEREFORE Petitioners pray that this Commission:

(a) through its Executive Secretariat and pursuant to Articles 26(1), 29(1)(a),

and 30(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 164 study, register, process, assign a number to,

and acknowledge receipt of their Petition;

(b) pursuant to Article 30(3) and (4) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 165 forward their Petition to the State and request that the State respond to it no later

than within two months from the date the request is transmitted, if not sooner in light of the

serious and urgent nature of the allegations herein contained;

(c) deny standing to any intervenors who may seek to participate directly as a

party in any proceedings related to this Commission's adjudication of this matter, including but

not limited to any representative of the executive branch of the current PPD-colonialist-party-led

Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, but excluded from this request any other

petitioners who may file additional petitions as victims of the human-rights violations alleged

herein;

(d) permit the participation, as amicus curiae, of any third-parties who may

wish to submit written communications to this Commission concerning the merits of Petitioners'

164
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 26(1) provides, in relevant part: "The Executive Secretariat of the
Commission shall be responsible forthe study and initial processing of petitions before the Commission ...."
Conunission Rules of Procedure, art. 29{l)(a) provides, in relevant part: "The Executive Secretariat ...
shall receive the petition, register it, record the date of receipt on the petition itself and acknowledge receipt to the
petitioner."
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 30(1) provides: "The Commission, through its Executive
Secretariat, shall process the petitions that meet the requirements set forth in Article 28 of these Rules of
Procedure."
165
Conunission Rules of Procedure, art. 30(3) and (4) provide, in relevant part: "The State shall submit its
response within two months counted from the date the request is transmitted .... In serious or urgent cases ... the

55
claims, copies of which communications Petitioners request that they and the United States

receive and to which they be permitted to respond as they deem appropriate and necessary; 166

( e) to expedite consideration of the issues raised herein and the granting of the

requested redress, join to and consolidate with their Petition, pursuant to Article 29(d) of the

Commission Rules of Procedure, 167 all other petitions that may hereafter be filed alleging similar

violations by the State;

(f) name and identify a Rapporteur 16 g and a Commission staff attorney whose

roles would include facilitating the Commission's adjudication of this matter by communicating

with the parties and reporting to the Commission;

(g) inform Petitioners and the State of any communications in any way related

to this matter, by each other, third parties, or their or those third-parties' representatives,

including any ex parte communications, with the Commission, its Rapporteur, and any

Commission staff member, and pennit Petitioners and the State to provide the Commission with

their observations concerning these communications;

Commission shall request the promptest reply from the State, using for this purpose the means it considers most
expeditious."
166
See Commission's Statute, art. 20(b) (''the Commission shall have the ... power[] to examine
communications submitted to it and any other available information . . . in order to bring about more effective
observance of fundamental human rights"); Commission Rules of Procedure, arts. 42(1) ("the Commission may take
into account other information that is a matter of public knowledge") and 57(2) ("For the preparation and adoption
of ... [its] reports ... , the Commission shall gather information from all the sources it deems necessary for the
protection of human rights.").
167
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 29(d) permits: "The Commission, acting initially through the
Executive Secretariat, ... if two or more petitions address similar facts, involve the same persons, or reveal the same
patter of conduct, [to] ... join[] and process[ them] together."
168
See Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 15 ("The Commission may create rapporteurships to better
fulfill its functions.").

56
(h) assign the evaluation of this Petition to a working group on admissibility
169
pursuant to Article 36 of the Commission Rules of Procedure;

(i) pursuant to Article 37 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 170 admit

their Petition prior to or concurrent with its decision on the merits, assign this matter a case

number, and publish a report on admissibility;

G) pursuant to Articles 59, 60, and 62(1) and (3) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 171 grant them a hearing at its next regular session and hearings thereafter as may

become appropriate and necessary;

169
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 36 ("A working group shall meet prior to each regular session in
order to study the admissibility of petitions and make recommendations to the plenary of the Commission.").
° Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 37 provides, in relevant part:
17

1. Once it has considered the positions of the parties, the Commission shall make a
decision on the admissibility of the matter. The reports on admissibility and
inadmissibility shall be public and the Commission shall include them in its Annual
Report to the General Assembly of the OAS.
2. When an admissibility report is adopted, the petition shall be registered as a case
and the proceedings on the merits shall be initiated ....
3. In exceptional circwnstances, and after having requested information from the
parties ... , the Commission may open a case but defer its treatment of admissibility until
the debate and decision on the merits ....
171
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 59 provides, in relevant part: "The Commission may decide to
hold hearings on its own initiative or at the request of an interested party .... "
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 60 provides: "The hearings may have the purpose of receiving
information from the parties with respect to a petition or case being processed before the Commission, follow-up to
recommendations, precautionary measures, or general or particular information related to human rights in one or
more Member States of the OAS."
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 62(1) and (3) provides, in relevant part:
Hearings on petitions or cases shall have as their purpose the receipt of oral or written
presentations by the parties relative to new facts and information additional to that which
has been produced during the proceeding. The information may refer to any of the
following issues: admissibility; the initiation or development of the friendly settlement
procedure; the verification of the facts; the merits of the matter; follow-up on
recommendations; or any other matter pertinent to the processing of the petition or case.
Requests for hearings must be submitted in writing at least 40 days prior to the beginning
of the respective session of the Commission ....

57
(k) pursuant to Article 63(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 172 permit

them during that hearing and any subsequent hearings to present documents, witness and expert

testimony, reports, and any other item of evidence that fundamental notions of due process

would require;

(1) allow them, if deemed by them appropriate and necessary, to controvert

and/or to provide observations concerning any evidence submitted by the State or any other party

related to Petitioners' claims; 173

(m) pursuant to Article 40(1) of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 174

conduct an on-site investigation by the Commission as a whole;

(n) if deemed appropriate and necessary, name a Special Commission


175
pursuant to Article 51 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, charged with investigating the

State's denial of fundamental political rights at the national level to U.S. citizens residing in

Puerto Rico;

(o) with the same procedural safeguards herein requested regarding hearings

before the Commission as a whole, permit the Special Commission to conduct on-site

investigations and hold hearings into the charges that form the basis of this Petition;

172
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 63(1) provides, in relevant part: "During the hearing, the parties
may present any document, testimony, expert report or item of evidence."
173
See, e.g., Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 63(2) ("With respect to the documentary evidence
submitted during the hearing, the Commission shall grant the parties a prudential time period for submitting their
observations.").
174
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 40(1) provides, in relevant part: "If it deems it necessary and
advisable, the Commission may carry out an on-site investigation ...."
175
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 51 provides:
On-site observations shall in each case be conducted by a Special Commission named for
that purpose. The number of members of the Special Commission and the designation of
its President shall be determined by the Commission. In cases of great urgency, such
decisions may be made by the President subject to the approval of the Commission.

58
(p) pursuant to Article 68 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 176 permit

the recording, transcription, and publication of all minutes, annexes, testimony, and other

evidence prepared by and/or presented to the Commission or any Special Commission during

any hearing held on this matter;

(q) if it anticipates that it will not have the ability to issue a final decision on

the merits prior to the national elections being held on November 4, 2008, issue precautionary

measures, pursuant to Article 25 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, demanding that the

State act swiftly to remedy the human-rights violations alleged in this Petition in a manner that

would permit Petitioner Rossello, Petitioner Committee's members, and all other similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico to cast votes and have their ballots counted for President,

Vice President, and voting members of both houses of their national legislature in that and all

other subsequent elections;

(r) pursuant to Articles 38(2) and 41(1) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 177 place itself at the disposal of the parties concerned with a view towards reaching a

176
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 68 provides:
1. A summary of the minutes of hearing shall be prepared and shall record the day and
time it was held, the names of the participants, the decisions adopted, and the
commitments assumed by the parties. The documents submitted by the parties in the
hearing shall be attached as annexes to the minutes.
2. The minutes of the hearings are internal working documents of the Commission. Ifa
party so requests, the Commission shall provide a copy, unless, in the view of the
Commission, its contents could entail some risk to persons.
3. The Commission shall make a tape of the testimony and shall make it available to the
parties that so request.
177
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 38(2) provides, in relevant part: "Prior to making its decision on
the merits of the case, the Commission shall set a time period for the parties to express whether they have an interest
in initiating the friendly settlement procedure provided for in Article 41 of these Rules of Procedure .... "
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 41(1) provides, in relevant part:
On its own initiative or at the request of any of the parties, the Commission shall place
itself at the disposal of the parties concerned, at any stage of the examination of a petition
or case, with a view to reaching a friendly settlement of the matter on the basis ofrespec;t

59
:friendly settlement of the matter, before the issuance by the Commission of a final decision on

the merits, on the basis ofrespect for the human rights involved in this Petition;

(s) pursuant to Article 43(2) of the Commission Rules of Procedure,178

prepare a preliminary report containing the Commission's proposals and recommendations and

alerting the State that, unless remedied, the Commission will find that the State has committed

the human-rights violations alleged in this Petition;

(t) extend Petitioners all rights and privileges to submit any observations,

deemed by them appropriate and necessary, before the final adoption of any decision, finding,

report, proposal, or recommendation;

(u) pursuant to Articles 42(1) and 43(2) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 179 issue a final decision on the merits declaring that, by denying Petitioner Rossell6,

Petitioner Committee's members, and all other similarly situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico of

their right to vote for and elect the President, Vice President, and voting members of both houses

of their national legislature, the State is responsible for violating their:

(1) right to equality before law under Article II of the

American Declaration;

(2) right to vote under Article XX of the American

Declaration;

for the human rights recognized in the ... American Declaration and other applicable
instruments."
178
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 43(2) provides in relevant part:
If ... [the Commission] establishes one or more violations, it shall prepare a preliminary
report with the proposals and recommendations it deems pertinent and shall transmit it to
the State in question. In so doing, it shall set a deadline by which the State in question
must report on the measures adopted to comply with the recommendations ....
179
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 42(1) provides, in relevant part: "The Commission shall
deliberate on the merits of the case, to which end it shall prepare a report in which it will examine the arguments, the

60
(3) right to participate in their government under Article XX of

the American Declaration;

(4) right to democracy under Article 1 of the Democratic

Charter;

(5) right to universal suffrage as an expression of the

sovereignty of the people under Article 3 of the Democratic

Charter;

(6) right to participate in periodic, free, and fair elections at the

national level, in violation of Article 3 of the Democratic

Charter; and

(7) right to participate in decisions relating to Petitioner

Rossell6's or Petitioner Committee's members own

development, and the development of all other similarly

situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, under Article 6 of the

Democratic Charter;

(v) pursuant to the same Articles 42(1) and 43(2) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, also issue a final decision on the merits declaring that the State is impeding,

obstructing, and preventing Petitioner Rossell6, Petitioner Committee's members, and all other

similarly situated U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, from:

(1) performing their duty to vote in the popular elections of

their country, in violation of Article XXXII of the

American Declaration;

evidence presented by the parties, and the information obtained during the hearings and on site observations."

61
(2) effectively holding any public office in their country at the

national level, in violation of Article XXXIV of the

American Declaration; and

(3) meeting their responsibility to participate in decisions

relating to their own development, in violation of Article 6

of the Democratic Charter;

(w) pursuant to the same Artic1es 42(1) and 43(2) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, also issue a final decision on the merits declaring that, in denying Petitioner Rossell6,

Petitioner Committee's members, and all other U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico of the right to

vote for President, Vice President, and voting members of Congress, the State is failing to:

( 1) promote and defend democracy in Puerto Rico under

Article 1 of the Democratic Charter;

(2) strengthen the inter-American system for the protection of

human rights for the consolidation of democracy in this

Hemisphere, in violation of Article 8 of the Democratic

Charter;

(3) eliminate discrimination. especially ethnic and linguistic

discrimination, and thereby weakening democracy and

citizen participation, in violation of Article 9 of the

Democratic Charter;

(4) respect how Puerto Rico's ethnic and cultural diversity

strengthens democracy and citizen participation in the

United States, in violation of Article 9 of the Democratic

Charter; and

62
(5) organize, conduct, and ensure free and fair national

electoral processes under Artic1e 23 of the Democratic

Charter;

(x) demand that the State provide Petitioners with a full and effective remedy,

which includes adopting the legislative or other measures necessary to guarantee to Petitioner

Rossell6, Petitioner Committee's members, and approximately four million other U.S. citizens

living in Puerto Rico the rights to vote and to participate fully and under equal terms with all

U.S. citizens residing in the 50 States in all national elections;

(y) urge that the State adhere, from the point of the Commission's decision on

the merits forward, to all principles of international law, including the OAS Charter, the

American Declaration, the Democratic Charter, and all other international laws, treaties, and

norms as this Commission deems appropriate and necessary;

(z) pursuant to Articles 45(1), 56, and 57(1)(f) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 180 publish a final report that contains the Commission's opinion and final conclusions

and recommendations;

18
° Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 45(1) provides, in relevant part: "If within three months from the
transmittal of the preliminary report to the State in question the matter has not been solved ... the Commission, by
an absolute majority of votes, may issue a final report that contains its opinion and final conclusions and
recommendations."
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 56 provides:
The Commission shall submit an annual report to the General Assembly of the OAS. In
addition, the Commission shall prepare the studies and reports it deems advisable for the
performance of its functions and shall publish them as it sees fit. Once their publication
is approved, the Commission shall transmit them, through the General Secretariat, to the
Member States of the OAS and its pertinent organs.
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 57(l)(f) provides, in relevant part, that the Commission's annual
report to the OAS General Assembly shall include: "the reports on individual petitions and cases whose publication
has been approved by the Commission, as weIJ as a list of the precautionary measures granted and extended."

63
(aa) pursuant to Articles 45(3) and 57(1)(a) of the Commission Rules of

Procedure, 181 transmit its decision in this case in a report to the OAS General Assembly, with a

specific recommendation that the General Assembly take on and act upon any failure by the

State to comply with the Commission's recommendations;

(bb) pursuant to Article 46 of the Commission Rules of Procedure, 182 continue

to evaluate any remedial measures until the Commission's recommendations have been fully

complied with by the State;

(cc) recommend that the State reimburse Petitioners their full costs and

attorneys' fees incurred in bringing and prosecuting this action; and

(dd) award such other and further relief as this Commission deems just and

proper.

With our highest esteem for this Commission as it undertakes consideration of this

Petition, which we have on this 17tli. day of October 2006:

181
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 45(3) provides, in relevant part: "The Commission shall evaluate
compliance with its recommendations based on the information available .... The Commission shall also make a
detennination as to whether to include it in the Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly, and/or to publish it in
any other manner deemed appropriate."
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 57(l)(a) provides:
The Annual Report presented by the Commission to the General Assembly of the OAS
shall include the following: "An analysis of the human rights situation in the hemisphere,
along with recommendations to the States and organs of the OAS as to the measures
necessary to strengthen respect for human rights.
182
Commission Rules of Procedure, art. 46 provides:
1. Once the Commission has published a report on a friendly settlement or on the merits
in which it has made recommendations, it may adopt the follow-up measures it deems
appropriate, such as requesting infonnation from the parties and holding hearings in order
to verify compliance with friendly settlement agreement and its recommendations.
2. The Commission shall report on progress in complying with those agreements and
recommendations as it deems appropriate.

64
Respectfully submitted,

PEDRO ROSSELL
Senado - El Capitolio
P.O. Box 9023431
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00902-3431
(787) 724-2030, exts. 2931, 2939
FAX (787) 977-7678
prossello@senadopr.us

Both Petitioners appearing in their


individual capacities and as
representatives of approximately FOUR
MILLION U.S. CITIZENS RESIDING
IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF
PUERTO RICO

ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONERS:

@''d.o t. C!, ct<>..ey.


0 MDO E. VIDAL, ESQ.
Sullivan & Worcester LLP
1666 K Street, N.W., Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006-2803
(202) 775-1200
FAX (202) 293-2275
ovidal@sandw.com
In Washington, D.C.
and San Juan, Puerto Rico,
in the United States of America.

65