top of page
  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Who Establishes, Who Dictates the Validity of the Term Political Status?

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Honesty in respecting that validity is

what has not existed. US Representatives Grijalva, Velázquez, Ocasio, that's what

it's all about, let's see.

English Translation by Carmen Julia Rodríguez Torres

We understand by political status the constitutional agreements, rules, and procedures establishing the rights and duties of rulers and governed. Under these agreements are established the jurisdictions, the islands and countries, inhabited by diverse ethnic groups. Usually dominated by ‘caciques’, kings, emperors – rulers – these so-called free countries thus determine their political status. Until a stronger one invades them, enslaves them, colonizes them.

This is the case of Haiti when the people revolted against Duvalier or Santo Domingo after Trujillo's death where the U.S. military stays for 6 months and leaves his ally, Balaguer, as president. That is the case of Puerto Rico that, when invaded by the United States in 1898, had negotiated with Spain an autonomous government as an overseas province. In this and many other ways the strong ones intervene in the political status of peoples who considered themselves free to determine their destiny. In previous centuries so did Spain, France, England and Russia in America, Africa and Asia. We see then that the status free peoples negotiate with their rulers does not receive much respect from the powers that invade and colonize them.

Therefore, the importance of the United Nations (UN) Decolonization Committee that aims to promote the autonomy and right to self-determination of colonized peoples. Before its plenary session, the official representative of the U.S. presented in a resolution the government in association – Associated Free State (Commonwealth) – as decolonization of Puerto Rico. Under this association agreement, both peoples share citizenship, currency, defense; it enables on the island a democratic government with the Puerto Rican people electing their governor every four years as approved by the P.R. Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and ratified by that committee.

No party in the association can unilaterally change the pact. Any change must be the result of consultations and negotiations between the two peoples. So far, the Puerto Rican people have not negotiated changes to this agreement. For this reason, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the status in force on the island as ratified by the Decolonization Committee in 1952.

A number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, however, unilaterally qualify Puerto Rico as an ‘unincorporated territory.’ This clearly contradicts what was stated at the UN, that Puerto Rico is not a colony. It is then imperative that the case of Puerto Rico be resubscribed with the UN as well as in other forums to clarify whether or not the island is a colony.

That is the first thing. The second thing is to understand that recent plebiscites, referendums on the status have no credibility on the island or outside. The alternatives clearly favored annexation with the U.S. so Puerto Ricans did not support them, which explains why so few bothered to participate.

Something similar has happened with the elections, both at the island and municipal levels. Countless irregularities have been documented and so low was the participation that elected governors received less than 50% of the votes that could be counted and verified. The electoral reform passed in a hurry and without much reflection by the island's legislature recently promoted even greater irregularities in the 2020 elections. Many of the officials ‘elected’ have not been ratified and many of those who were ratified have been challenged in the courts. All this at the same time as the federal government investigates corruption cases at the island legislature and government. There is no doubt about the Puerto Rican people’s dissatisfaction with this situation. Which brings us to the third and most important of our claims.

US Representatives Grijalva, Velázquez and Ocasio: are we or are we not governed by mutual agreement – by consensus – or are we governed by the strongest one? It seems that the name Associated Free State – in light of all the events described here – is simply inadequate. If we are an 'unincorporated territory' we are not a 'State.' If the U.S. Supreme Court can unilaterally rule that we are, then the island is not 'Free.' If the U.S. can consider that it would be in its interest to sell us to another power or exchange us for another possession, clearly the agreement negotiated in 1952 could not be described as 'Associated.' Although ASSOCIATION was the pact supported by the votes of the Puerto Rican people and approved by the U.S. Congress. This ASSOCIATION has been of great benefit to both peoples.

The Honorable William Miranda Marín – the now defunct mayor of my town, Caguas – demanded at public hearings before the U.S. Congress not to be disappointed or induced to regret to have proudly called himself an American citizen and to have devoted much of his life to military service. William Miranda Marín (like the one writing these lines) called Puerto Rico a sovereign people in ASSOCIATION with another sovereign people, the United States of America. As incorruptible soldier and tireless defender of his people he fought the good battle in life. Now it is up to us to determine if he was right when he referred to our relationship as an ASSOCIATION between sovereign and free peoples. It is up to us to determine whether the respect is mutual. We have to sit down and forge the changes necessary for our ASSOCIATION to remain fruitful for all of us. Perhaps we should negotiate an Association of Sovereign States that will allow both peoples to grow and evolve into new auroras – better tomorrows.


bottom of page