UN General Assembly

June 24, 2019

Statement by the Cuban Delegation to the Special Committee on Decolonization Topic: Presentation of a draft resolution on the question of Puerto Rico.

Madam President:

Our delegation has the honor to submit to the Special Committee on Decolonization, on behalf of Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation, the draft resolution on the Question of Puerto Rico, included in document A/AC.109/2019/L.9

We appreciate the large presence of Puerto Rican petitioners today, whose contributions are significant to the work of this Committee.

The speeches of the various political and social forces of that nation converge in the call to put an end to the colonial status of Puerto Rico. We have witnessed the urgent demand to the international community to act in favor of the will of all the Puerto Rican people.

The draft resolution that we submit today reiterates that Puerto Rico is a Latin American and Caribbean nation, with its own and unmistakable national identity, which Puerto Ricans have been able to defend despite the long process of colonization to which they have been subjected.

The text recognizes that, within the context of the significant worsening of the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico, the current status prevents the Puerto Rican people from making sovereign decisions to meet their needs and shape their future, especially to address the serious economic and social problems that affect them.

The draft resolution includes the deep concern over the imposition on Puerto Rico by the United States Congress of a Fiscal Control Board which, invoking the plenary powers of the Congress enshrined in the Territorial Clause of its Constitution, exerts powers of control over the elected officials and legislators of the Government of Puerto Rico in all matters relating to fiscal, economic and budgetary matters, as well as all matters concerning the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s public debt.

Reference is also made to the text adopted at the recent Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement held in April 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan, which expresses concern over the fact that the today’s political subordination of the Puerto Rican people has prevented them from making sovereign decisions on the humanitarian crisis resulting from the effects of Hurricanes Irma and María, which have worsened the already serious economic and social problems, increased poverty levels in Puerto Rico from 45 to about 60 per cent of the population, caused massive migration and have seriously affected efforts to achieve sustainable economic development in that nation.

The text further notes that the U.S. Supreme Court, pursuant to a legal consultation of the U.S. Department of Justice, ruled in the Puerto Rico vs. Sanchez Valle case that the original and ultimate source of governmental authority in Puerto Rico is the U.S. Congress, making clear that any limited concession of self-government to Puerto Rico can be unilaterally revoked by that Congress.

The concern is reiterated about the actions taken against Puerto Rican independence activists, including repression and intimidation known from documents declassified by U.S. federal agencies.

The draft document also recognizes the statements of the Summits of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA), as well as other forums.

Note is also taken of the consultation carried out by the Government of Puerto Rico on 11 June 2017, in which, according to the State Elections Commission of the said country, less than 23 per cent of voters participated in such consultation. The Commission also reported that the consultation was not designed to promote decolonization, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, which adopted the Declaration on the granting of Independence to colonial countries and peoples.

I would like to take this opportunity to convey our appreciation to His Excellency Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic and Rapporteur of the Special Committee on Decolonization, as well as to the Secretariat of the Committee, for the comprehensive, detailed and useful report presented on the question of Puerto Rico, of which note is taken with satisfaction in the draft resolution.

In recent weeks, we have held consultations with all the members of the Committee with the purpose of achieving, as has been the case over the past 19 years, the adoption by consensus of the draft resolution on the Question of Puerto Rico.

We are convinced that the adoption of the text, with the support of all the members of the Committee, at this very important juncture for the cause of decolonization, is the most effective contribution that this body can make to the just cause of the people of Puerto Rico, in their unwavering struggle for their right to self-determination.

Thank you very much.