Puerto Ricans- U.S. Citizens in Limbo

The article below was reposted from www.indigenouspeoples.net :

Puerto Ricans--U.S. Citizens in Limbo

"At the end of 1995, the U.S. Department of State agreed to recognize the petition of Juan Mari Bras, 68, of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Bras claimed that U.S. citizenship is an imposed foreign citizenship, and declared that he was "Boricua" first. (Boricua is the Taino Indian word for Puerto Rican). He did this, in part, to buttress the claim that Puerto Rico is a separate nation.

Since then, at least 500 other Puerto Ricans have also renounced their U.S. citizenship, says Jose Lopez, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago. Prompted by this pro-independence fervor, Puerto Rican leaders across the country say it is time for Puerto Ricans to reflect upon what it means to be a U.S. citizen. And they have called for the celebration of "Boricua First"--a National Puerto Rican Affirmation Day--on March 29 in Washington D.C. This gathering will bring to light the concerns of Puerto Ricans both on the island and on the mainland.

Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War in which Spain ceded the island. In 1917, the Jones Act made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens. "Puerto Ricans didn't choose to be Americans," points out Howard Jordan, managing editor of Critica, a publication of the New York-based Institute for Puerto Rican Policy (IPRP).

Puerto Rico's commonwealth status means that island residents cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. Yet, Puerto Ricans have repeatedly voted against statehood (the last time, in 1993) partly because many fear that statehood would mean they would be forced to assimilate and would lose their Latin American culture.

Many Americans view Puerto Ricans as immigrants and newcomers, says Jordan. And they are often treated accordingly. It is not unheard of for U.S. immigration agents to ask Puerto Ricans for foreign passports, and for Puerto Ricans to suffer discrimination in the workplace as suspected "illegal aliens."

Confusion over Puerto Rican identity is rooted in Puerto Rico's colonial relationship--political, cultural and linguistic--to the rest of the United States.

There are approximately 6.5 million Puerto Ricans in the United States, who make up 2.5 percent of the total U.S. population. However, when the island is excluded from the Census count--which is standard practice--the percentage decreases to around 1 percent.
When the residents of Puerto Rico are counted as part of the U.S. Latino population, Puerto Ricans make up 24 percent of all Latinos, but only half that when Puerto Rico's population is excluded.

This intentional miscount reinforces the notion that Puerto Ricans are not part of the United States, leaving them in a political twilight zone. "It relegates them to second class citizenship," says Angelo Falcon, IPRP president. As a result, government officials virtually ignore the concerns of Puerto Ricans--a population that has the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country.

The Census also slights the Puerto Rican community through its creation of the generic "Hispanic" category. Lumped together under this one heading, specific Latino communities become invisible. So, while the different groups must assert their uniqueness, they must also be willing to unite when all Latinos are being attacked, says Falcon.
Another identity issue for Puerto Ricans has surfaced in Philadelphia. There, the police department has infuriated the Latino community by deciding to follow federal guidelines and recognize only black, white, Asian and Native American racial categories. This policy forces Latinos to accept official U.S. government definitions of race--which essentially do not recognize races that are mixed.

"All Latinos are mestizos (of mixed race). We have a little bit of everything," says Lizette Ortiz, president of the Latino American Student Association at West Chester University, Pa. The U.S. government has taken Latinos' land (Puerto Rico and half of Mexico); through legislation, politicians are trying to take away our language (Spanish); and now the federal government is attempting to impose an identity upon us, says Ortiz. "That's where we draw the line."

Angel Ortiz, a Philadelphia city councilman, says that once Latinos are forced to accept the official U.S. definitions of race, census bureaucrats and other government officials "will inject us with their virus of racism." The U.S. Census generally does not acknowledge race mixture, instead reinforcing historically racist and dangerous concepts of "racial purity." As a result of the councilman's intervention, the police department is reviewing its new policy.

The purpose of "Boricua First," says Jordan, is to focus Washington's attention on the specific political and economic agenda of Puerto Ricans and to get Puerto Rican bureaucrats in Washington to be more responsive to their communities.

Thousands from around the country are expected to participate in the bipartisan event. "Boricua First" activities will commence at the Vietnam Memorial and will highlight the historical role of Boricuas in defending the United States in wars throughout the nation's history. (There are, for example, 2,000 Puerto Rican names on the Vietnam memorial wall.) The day will end with the presentation of petitions to the President for the pardon of 15 Puerto Rican political prisoners--who are in prison because of violent independence-related activities against U.S. military installations in Puerto Rico and corporate targets on the mainland. Most were charged with committing "seditious conspiracy," highlighting the old adage that "one man terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

The leaders also hope to link up with the October 12 Latino march on Washington--as equal partners, they say; not simply as supporters. "


José M. López Sierra said...

Dear Partner,

After the approval of the 33rd United Nations’ resolution by consensus on June 23, 2014 asking the United States (US) to immediately decolonize of Puerto Rico, we should work together to force the United States government to comply with it.

The facts that the United States government has maintained Puerto Rico as its colony for 116 years, has had Oscar López Rivera in prison for 33 years for fighting for Puerto Rico decolonization, and has ignored 33 UN resolutions to decolonize Puerto Rico, confirm that the US government has no intentions of ever decolonizing Puerto Rico. Therefore, we need to form a tsunami of people to force the US to comply with the 33 resolutions.

We should peacefully protest at least 3 times a year until we achieve our goal. The first one will be a march up to the US Courthouse in Puerto Rico on the Abolition of Slavery Day on March 22. The second will be another march in Puerto Rico on a day before the UN’s Puerto Rico decolonization hearing. The third one will be a protest in New York City on the same day the UN holds its Puerto Rico decolonization hearing.

These 3 protests are indispensable, because those who have colonies don’t believe in justice for all.

José M López Sierra
Comité Timón del Pueblo
United Partners for the Decolonization of Puerto Rico

José M. López Sierra said...

Dear Partner,

Since the United Nations determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity, there is no longer a need for plebiscites. The solution is to give Puerto Rico her sovereignty.

But being the United States government does not want to, it continues to advocate the use of plebiscites to find out what Puerto Ricans want. Even if 100% of Puerto Ricans would want to continue being a US colony, Puerto Rico would still be obligated to accept her sovereignty to then decide what she wants to do.

The only thing these plebiscites are good for is to divide Puerto Ricans. A Puerto Rican didn’t invade us to make us a colony. When will we understand that we need to unite?

This is why we must peacefully protest at least 3 times a year until Puerto Rico is decolonized!

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

Why does Puerto Rico have a higher voter turnout than USA?

Puerto Ricans have a voter turnout of about 80%. The United States (US) citizens have a voter turnout of about 50%. What accounts for this 30 % disparity? Could it be that Puerto Rican believe in democracy more than US mainland citizens?

Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States since 1898. Since that time, Puerto Ricans who have wanted to decolonize their country have been either assassinated or imprisoned. Many Puerto Ricans are terrified of independence for Puerto Rico as a result of 116 years of repression.

Since colonialism is always for exploitation, there are no opportunities in Puerto Rico for Puerto Ricans. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans out, than in Puerto Rico. Therefore, Puerto Ricans are desperate to find a political solution to our eternal colonialism!

Most Puerto Ricans believe that decolonization can be achieved through the electoral process. But the electoral process is ultimately under the control of the government of the United States. Since the US government has ignored 33 United Nations resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico, and it has maintained incarcerated Puerto Rico political prisoner Oscar López Rivera for 33 years despite worldwide support to free him, there should be no doubt that the US government will never allow decolonization via the electoral process. If it were possible to do it that way, we would not have it!

The better way to decolonize is for that 80% of the Puerto Rico voter turnout to instead protest in the streets to demand our inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and insist that the UN do the decolonization in conformity to international law. After all, colonialism is within the jurisdiction of international law and never under national law. That is why it is a crime against humanity to have a colony under international law, but not so under US law.

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

Should criminals be in charge of correcting the wrong they inflicted?

Puerto Ricans vote in elections every 4 years at an 80% level of participation. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States (US) government for the past 116 years. If the US government has the final say in what happens in Puerto Rico, what is the purpose of these elections? The purpose is to fool the world that Puerto Rico is a democracy.

The United Nations (UN) declared colonialism a crime against humanity in 1960. The UN has asked the US government 33 times to decolonize Puerto Rico immediately. The US government has refused. It says that Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States is none of the UN’s business. The US says that it is a domestic affair.

To appear that the US government wants to decolonize Puerto Rico, it promotes the use of plebiscites to determine what Puerto Ricans want. Doesn’t that sounds innocent and democratic? So what’s the problem?

To begin with, the international community already rendered its verdict and determined that colonialism is illegal. So to have a political status option in a plebiscite that favors maintaining Puerto Rico a colony of the United States is not permitted. To have a political status option of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the United States is also not permitted under international law. The problem goes back to the beginning of this article. In order to have free elections, the country must be free. So before these elections and plebiscite could be valid, Puerto Rico would have to first be an independent nation.

What people must realize is that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US because the US government wants it that way. That is why it has used terrorism to keep it that way. That is why it refuses to release the Puerto Rican political prisoner of 33 years Oscar López Rivera. That is also why it is ridiculous to believe that decolonization is a US internal matter in which the UN has no jurisdiction over. If we allow the US government to decolonize Puerto Rico, she will remain a colony of the United States forever!

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

The Second Oscar – Mandela March in New York City 2015

We will be having our 2nd Oscar – Mandela Protest March on Monday, June 22, 2015. We will start marching peacefully at 9 AM from Hunter College on East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, to East 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue. We will then go East (turning left) to end up at the Ralph Bunche Park on First Avenue (across from the United Nations).

We will be at the park until 5 PM. We will be giving out flyers and talking to people about who Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is. We will also be educating the public about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the government of the United States (US).

Most people don’t know that every year, usually on the Monday after Fathers’ Day, the United Nations holds its hearing about the decolonization of Puerto Rico. The petitioners will usually join our protest after this meeting.

The UN determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Since then, the UN has issued 33 resolutions asking for the US government to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government has ignored these resolutions. What kind of democracy is that?

The US government tries to keep these hearings a secret. What we are trying to do is to get them out of the closet. The UN is in its 3rd decade trying to make the world colony-free. Please help us!

Most people also don’t know that the United States government takes out 14 times more money than what it invests in Puerto Rico. But, that is what colonies are for!

This savage exploitation impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to provide opportunities for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans living away from Puerto Rico than in their homeland.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 34 years for his struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico. Since colonialism is an international crime, international law gives Oscar the right to use whatever means necessary to decolonize his homeland. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years for doing the same thing as Oscar. This is why we say, Oscar López Rivera is our Nelson Mandela!

United Partners for Puerto Rico Decolonization invites the public to be part of the tsunami of people that will be necessary to make the US government comply with the UN resolutions. These annual protests in Puerto Rico and at the UN are absolutely necessary, because, those who maintain colonies, don’t believe in justice for all!

José M López Sierra