On June 18, the UN Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution on Puerto Rico. The document is part of an initiative brought forward by the Puerto Rican government, political parties and NGOs to change the status of the island, which is a US' unincorporated territory with no actual voting power in the Congress.
Standing Up to Goliath
"We remain an unincorporated territory of the United States, a colony," said Eduardo Villanueva Muñoz, spokesman for the Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico. He praised the "political importance" of the draft document, which calls for the US to facilitate Puerto Rico's self-determination, as "the US has traditionally claimed that Puerto Rico is its internal affair and the international community has nothing to do with it."
Muñoz added that Washington "interferes with the internal affairs" of Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, giving "democracy lessons to each of these countries."
Outrage at Washington
Muñoz criticized the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which set up a fiscal control board that was not accountable to the local government. The oversight board was meant to help the island tackle its near to $70 billion national debt, but in fact, Muñoz claimed, its priorities had nothing to do with education, healthcare, employment, or security.
According to him, the current situation in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from natural disaster, violates Article 73 of the UN Charter, which obliges UN members that administer non-self-governing territories to ensure their political, economic, social and educational development.
More than 40 Puerto Rican rights groups, as well as representatives of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and other nations, have addressed the Special Committee on Decolonization, slamming the US for what they call "genocide" and "economic terrorism" that Washington has enforced through multi-national companies taking advantage of local resources.
Others, Muñoz included, have blasted the Trump administration for insufficient support for Puerto Rico after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. They targeted POTUS in person, noting that the scene in which he was tossing paper towels into a crowd at a Puerto Rican aid station was "insulting" and "mocking."
Although Hurricane Maria left a trail of destruction in Puerto Rico, the human rights observer pointed to a positive aspect of the disaster. He said that the island's recovery and the absence of the federal government in that process have strengthened communities by means of what he called "political enlightenment."
The views and opinions expressed by Eduardo Villanueva Muñoz are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.