More Than 20 Organizations Sign Letter to US House Committee, Calling for Puerto Rico’s Decolonization and Sovereignty

Dec 9, 2019
11:33 AM

Co-founders of Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora, Daniel Vázquez (l) and Edil Sepúlveda (c), delivering letter on December 6, 2019 to Margarita Varela, professional staff for the Office of Insular Affairs at the House Committee on Natural Resources (Photo provided Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora)

On Friday, more than 20 organizations led by ​Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (BUDPR)​ delivered a letter to Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) of House Committee on Natural Resources, calling to “end colonial domination by Congress over Puerto Rico by revoking the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), dismantling the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) and enabling an independent audit of the ​island’s debt​,” a press release noted.

The letter included the support of the ​National Lawyers Guild​, ​VAMOS Puerto Rico​, ​Diáspora en Resistencia​, ​Chicago Boricua Resistance​, ​the Democratic Socialists of America ​(DSA)​, ​Our Revolution Puerto Rico​, ​Youth Climate Strike Puerto Rico​, ​Movimiento Unión Soberanista (MUS)​, Alianza pro Libre Asociación Soberana (ALAS), and ​Movimiento Diálogo Soberanista (MDS)​. It also featured numerous signatures of concerned Puerto Ricans.

“The collective also urged the Committee to adopt the necessary policies to facilitate Puerto Rico’s path towards sustainable economic development and self-sufficiency, direct democratic accountability and national sovereignty,” the release said.

“Without sovereignty there is no autonomy, and without autonomy there is no accountability. This is where Puerto Rico finds itself, fundamentally disempowered through its colonial status,” BUDPR spokesperson Diana Isabel Sotomayor said. “The Summer of 2019 highlighted how Puerto Ricans are reclaiming their rights and powers over their institutions, socioeconomic development and collective well-being, all of which have been historically jeopardized by the island’s lack of national sovereignty. This was long overdue. It is time that Puerto Rico starts enjoying full political autonomy to democratically legislate—holding those who exercise power over it to account, thereby giving it back to its people.”

According to the letter, this “legislating from afar” model “has not worked in the past, is not working under PROMESA, and even under an amended or repealed PROMESA, Puerto Rico will continue to be hostage to the whims of Congress to solve its immediate problems. This ‘policy’ of never-ending legislative patches must end.”

“From the diaspora, we will always be the vehicle by which Puerto Ricans in our native country deliver their ideas, aspirations, and demands to be heard in the halls of Congress. The time for colonization is over and the issue of Puerto Rico must be addressed head-on,” said María J. Torres-López, founder and president of Diáspora en Resistencia.

Margaret Wooten, a DSA member and the director of engagement and strategic partnerships for BUDPR, said that “we progressive Americans stand firmly in solidarity with the decolonization of and full sovereignty for Puerto Rico. The values of self-determination, social justice, and fierce anti-colonialism should be at the core of any elected official that identifies with progressive politics. And on the Puerto Rican question, the only truly progressive and decolonizing option is political sovereignty.”

The letter’s supporters urged Grijalva to “support and welcome any steps this Committee can take to finally solve Puerto Rico’s colonial problem towards an organized transition for a sovereign and independent future for Puerto Rico, in close friendship with the United States.”

“Hurricane María’s tragedy brought all Puerto Ricans together and underscored the lack of urgency by the U.S. government in assisting its forgotten colony. The trauma of María has actually been a valuable lesson that led to the events of the Summer of 2019 and has led me and the rest of the signatories of this letter to raise our voices for the justice that our nation, Puerto Rico, finally deserves: its national emancipation,” said María de Lourdes Guzmán, President of Movimiento Unión Soberanista and San Juan Senate candidate for Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana.

The letter sent to Grijlava also earned the support of Puerto Rico’s Independence Party (PIP), who delivered its own letter to the Arizona Democrat.

“The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Vice President, María de Lourdes Santiago, has authorized me to state that the PIP supports the Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora letter Re: ‘Puerto Rico Needs a Path Forward Towards National Sovereignty.’ We join the signatories in demanding that the House Committee on Natural Resources take steps ‘to finally solve Puerto Rico ́s colonial problem towards an organized transition for a sovereign and independent future for Puerto Rico, in close friendship with the United States,’” wrote Adrián González Costa, the PIP’s mayoral candidate for San Juan.