18 thoughts on “The United Nations De-colonization Hearings–How useful are they?

  1. important as a public forum
    i don’t believe in and of itself the committee has that much power to effect chane. in this light, one might ask how useful the united nations is in general. and i admit that i am stating the following without having researched or looked into the committee’s past achievements. i do think that as a public, worldwide forum, the committee on decolonization is significant. just as it is significant that the u.s. moved to have puerto rico taken off the list of nations that needed to be decolonized in 1953. it is important that in 1978 puerto rico was re-instated on that list. there is, in other words, a symbolic importance to the committee–even a moral, if not political importance. so i would say the decolonization hearings are useful or rather worthwhile.

  2. RE: important as a public forum
    Sadly, the U.N hearings are mostly a waste of time and while symbolic it is rather emty. While a colonial status does exist, the blame rest mostly with the people on the island that insis on maintaining the current status.

  3. Effects of colonialism
    I don’t know if this is relevant. But it seems to me that if I knew that it didn’t make a difference what I thought or voted, then I might think of making any voting decision about the status issue. What am I trying to say here? I’m questioning whether there is any connection between 100 years of colonial rule in which I was granted 50 years of voting power over local matters, and knowing that only the U.S. Congress can decide on freeing my island?

  4. RE: Effects of colonialism
    I think that what is extraordinary in these discussions is the situation of American Indians in this country, where they are theoretically their own sovereign nations, yet under the ultimate jurisdiction of Congress. This is a situation which preceded the colonialism of PR, yet no one seems to think there are any lessons there. I think your point is well taken. In fact, colonial powers (at least the “smart” ones) have allowed their colonies “freedom” to choose within narrow parameters (look back to US history) thus propagandizing the population into thinking they actually had a say. Of course, if the colony chose policies contrary to the mother country, watch out for the gloved fist. Quite subtle and ingenious, eh?

  5. RE: important as a public forum
    The UN is only useful to the US when it does what the US wants. In fact, looking closely at the US’ record in the UN, one is struck by how the US in important issues is mostly in the nay column–this is a country which has yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Children, for Crissakes! I’m indedted to Noam Chomsky for the latter point. Useful as a forum? To whom? The people on the island? On the mainland? How much coverage (apart from the occasional item in the NY Times) does the UN merit in this country’s wonderful press? For that matter, how many Americans even know where the UN is or have read the Charter of the UN? How many PRs even know there are hearings being held on PR?

  6. RE: RE: important as a public forum

    You both make excellent observations. Now allow me to add that while these hearings are more symbolic than practical they serve the purpose of further highlighting the U.S.’s Puerto Rico dilemna among the participating U.N. nations. Perhaps such discussions within the U.N. can lead to a pressuring of the U.S. to terminate its colonial rule of Puerto Rico. Even if there’re no immediate results from these hearings, at least the U.S. is embarrassed again.


  7. RE: RE: RE: important as a public forum
    I’m in sympathy, but let me ask you this: will PRs read the hearings? Does anybody know where they are? If nothing else, they would serve as an invaluable historical document. It’s sort of like the hearings Rep. Serrano held in the US Congress–did the transcripts become widely available? Or how about the recent revelation of widespread spying on the island?

  8. RE: RE: Effects of colonialism
    How sycophantic of you, my intellectually gifted brother!!!

  9. RE: RE: RE: RE: important as a public forum
    Mr. Padilla:

    Where can I obtain further info re the latter issue. Are there any hearting transcipts or other official materials re spying on PR citizens?

    Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

  10. prisoners of conscience
    Saludos. As many of you know, there are over 100 prisoners of conscience being held in a federal prison in Puerto Rico. The vast majority of them have not been given a court date, and although non of them pose a risk of nonappearance, they have been given $1,000 fines. We urge you to contact the warden at the address below and let him know that you are aware that some prisoners are being denied basic rights to which all prisoners are entitled and that “Tito Kayak’s” state of health is their responsibility. Call today and write. Also, write to our prisoners.

    Jorge Pastrana (warden)

    MDC Guaynabo

    P O Box 2147

    San Juan, PR 00922-2147

    (787) 749-4480

    Horsemen for Peace

    de Jesús, Alberto (Tito Kayak)

    19580-069 Unit-B

    MDC Guaynabo

    P O Box 2147

    San Juan, PR 00922-2147

    Sued-Jiménez, Gazir

    19776-069 Unit-B

    MDC Guaynabo

    P O Box 2147

    San Juan, PR 00922-2147

    Alverio, Johny

    (number not available)

    MDC Guaynabo

    P O Box 2147

    San Juan, PR 00922-2147

    For Puerto Rican Independence Party members, call 787-782-1455.

    Todo Boricua Machetero,

    Héctor Rosario

  11. RE: RE: Effects of colonialism
    On the contrary, the Indian reservation model is actually seen by many as an apt comparative in connection to Puerto Rico. In fact, an early outcry of the Nationalists against the United States was ¡No somos Indios! But beyond this, Puerto Rico as a territory recapitulates the American historical process of conquest, occupation, incorporation and annexation. Puerto Rico is midway in that process. Another comparative is of course the Philippines and Hawaii. For that matter, we should look at Alaska. It is not accidental, too, that Senator Inouye of Hawaii has been a leading advocate of Indian Rights. Makes perfect logical and historical sense. Doesn’t it?

    Also, Reservation/Native Americans=Relocation Camps/Japanese Americans=Ghetto/Puerto Rican, African Americans, etc. Catch my drift?

  12. Finally a story……
    Messenger May Change,

    But Message Doesn’t

    Marisol Corretjer could have stayed placidly in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, doing what she likes best: taking care of her grandchildren.

    Instead, as she has in the last three years, she came to New York last week to present to the United Nations’Decolonization Committee the position of the Partido Nacionalista

    Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Nationalist Party).

    “The party’s position hasn’t changed,” says Corretjer, a retired restaurateur and the party’s vice president. “We demand our right to be independent.”

    On Wednesday, for the first time in its history, the committee approved by consensus a resolution supporting independence and free determination for Puerto Rico, and repudiating the arrest of protesters and the military maneuvers in Vieques.

    This was music to the ears of Corretjer and many compatriots who share her ideals. But the struggle has been too long and too hard, and it has made a political realist out of her.

    “This is good, of course. But we have been coming to the UN for decades and nothing has changed,” she says. “As long as the U.S. is not willing to recognize independence and to implement a mechanism to make it a reality, I don’t see this resolution as having much impact.”

    Alice Cardona, a New York-born Puerto Rican community activist and Woodside resident for more than 20 years, agrees.

    “For the first time in years, I agree with [Puerto Rican] Gov. Pedro Rosselló on something,” Cardona says. “Last Thursday, he said that ‘What is important is not to sign or present a resolution, but to act.’ For the committee to say that Puerto Rico is a colony is good as an international statement, but … what else is new? We already knew that.”

    The United Nations resolution was introduced by Cuba and seconded by Venezuela. It reaffirms Puerto Rico’s Latin American and Caribbean character. It also expresses the hope that the U.S.

    will put in motion a process to allow Puerto Ricans to exercise their right to free determination and independence. Holding your breath, though, may not be advisable.

    Because Puerto Rico, officially called a commonwealth, or a “free associated state” (in Spanish, estado libre asociado), is a colony and has been one since 1898, as the UN resolution just

    reaffirmed. That reality is not bound to change any time soon.

    “The issue of Vieques, though, has brought together all kinds of people in Puerto Rico,” Corretjer says. “Many Puerto Ricans have understood the real meaning of colonialism for the first time.”

    Fernando Martín, vice president of the influential Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, put it this way to the UN committee: “… the struggle for peace in Vieques [has become] the

    most dramatic exposé of the condition of political subordination of our people, and of the U.S. government’s assault on our right to self-determination and our most fundamental human rights.”

    Corretjer, though, has understood colonialism and its pernicious effects since she was a little girl. Her father, Juan Antonio Corretjer, was not only Puerto Rico’s national poet, but a fervent pro-independence activist and nationalist.

    One of his best known poems expresses his fierce loyalty to his homeland this way: Yo sería borincano aunque naciera en la Luna. “I would be Puerto Rican,” the poet says, “even if I had been born on the moon.”

    Thousands of New York-born Puerto Ricans, like Cardona, deeply identify with that sentiment. And so does the poet’s daughter.

    “To Puerto Ricans in New York, I say that we are only one people,” Corretjer says. “And that we need their support.”

    For her, the struggle for independence goes on. And although what Corretjer would really like is to take care of her

    grandchildren full time, that may have to wait a while.

    “It is for them that I want a free Puerto Rico,” she says.

  13. RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: important as a public forum
    Although you specifically requested the info from Victor, I will tell you where to go–The U.N. itself online provides press releases. In fact today, the Special de-colonization committee is meeting to discuss P.R. What follows is an excerpt from one of their releases:

    Press Release


    Also Approves Texts on New Caledonia and Tokelau

    Acting without a vote, the Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution on the question of Puerto Rico this afternoon, the first time in 28 years that it had achieved consensus on that issue. It also took action on two other texts relating to Non-Self-Governing Territories.

    Following the conclusion of its hearing of petitioners on the question of Puerto Rico, the Special Committee took action on a text by which the General Assembly would encourage the United States Government to order a halt to its armed forces’ military drills and manoeuvres on the inhabited island of Vieques, return the occupied land to the Puerto Rican people, halt the persecution, arrests and harassment of peaceful demonstrators, respect their fundamental rights, and decontaminate the impact area.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would welcome the release of 11 Puerto Rican prisoners and express its hope that the President of the United States would release all Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in United States prisons on cases related to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. By further terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the international community’s hope that the United States Government would assume the responsibility of expediting a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

    Again acting without a vote, the Special Committee approved, as orally amended, a text on the question of New Caledonia by which the General Assembly would invite all the parties involved to continue promoting a framework for the Territory’s peaceful progress towards an act of self-determination which would safeguard the rights of all New Caledonians according to the letter and spirit of the Noumea Accord.

    By other terms, the Assembly would acknowledge the close links between New Caledonia and the peoples of the South Pacific and the positive actions being taken by the French and territorial authorities to facilitate the further development of those links, including the development of closer relations with the members of the South Pacific Forum. By other terms, the Assembly would welcome measures to strengthen and diversify the New Caledonian economy.

    Decolonization Committee-1a-Press Release GA/COL/3036 11th Meeting (PM)12 July 2000

  14. RE: Finally a story……
    thanks for this. i really wasn’t aware that anything like this was going on. tell me, is Lolita Lebron in new york attending the hearings. someone told me she was but someone else told me that she did not plan to come to the u.s. any more. any information about this?

  15. Info on spying
    Well, sorry I didn’t get your question at first–I’m really tracking these UN hearings. But I do know an excellent source–well two.

    1. The office of Congressman Serrano
    2. A brilliant book that recently came out. It’s in Spanish but will soon be released in English. It’s called Las Carpetas (The Files) and it’s edited by Jose Javier Colon and Ramon Bosque Perez.

    Actually, I ordered it from this website. The timeline is based on the book and there is a short review of it–I believe. But you can definitely order it right here at a discount. Hey people at PRdream–do I get any future discounts for doing this sales pitch?

  16. RE: RE: RE: Effects of colonialism
    to add to your list of “comparatives”

    Statehood/Hawaiians, Alaskans, Puerto Ricans?

  17. RE: RE: Finally a story……

    I don’t know who from Puerto Rico attended these meetings. And, I wasn’t aware that Lolita Lebron has decided to never travel to the U.S. May someone out there enlighten us more on this matter?


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