The country under the carpet

Este artículo de opinión fue publicado originalmente en Medium by Reinaldo Martínez (@lifenbits). The Country Under the Carpet (

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During the 28th and 29th of January 2014, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) met on its Second Summit in Havana, Cuba. The head of states of 31 of 33 countries from México down to Argentina participated of the summit (the exceptions being Panamá and El Salvador), with the presence of the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, and the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

It is within this framework, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaNicolás Maduro, proposed Puerto Rico (PR) as a member of CELAC. United States of America (USA) press, pretty much ignored the news, but it made waves within the international community. The idea had little chance of getting approved since CELAC’s resolutions require unanimous vote. However, the proposal obliged the evaluation and analysis of PR status. At the end of the day, the Second Summit Final Statemententrusted CELAC’s Quartet (EcuadorCubaCosta Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago) with presenting proposals to advance PR decolonization.

By all means, PR situation is very confusing. PR is an unincorporated territory of the USA in accordance with Public Law 600 (39 Stat. 951, USC 48 § 732). In essence, PR is subordinated to USA Congress; PR is a colony of the USA. That isn’t difficult to understand, yet it is not the whole story. On the international arena, PR is an invisible country by design. You see, having a colony is against the provisions of the Charter of the UN, and it denies the fundamental humans rights of the people [UN Resolution 1514 (XV)]. In addition, the USA had the obligation to transmit an annual report on the steps taken to transfer all powers to the people of PR [UN Resolution 1541 (XV)]. Reporting annually to the UN on a non-self-governing territory, to which you are denying a fundamental basic right, is a shameful business for the paladin of freedom and justice.

USA had a problem and needed a solution that would allow them to stop reporting to the UN annually without letting go their precious colony. In the 50’s, USA deviced a way to achieve this goal. The trick was to mislead the UN (and Puerto Ricans) into believing PR attained self-government while keeping PR under the territorial clause (Article 4) of the Constitution of the USA, and in accordance to P.L. 600 mentioned before. Following PR constitutional process from 1950 to 1953, the UN passed Resolution 748 (VIII) removing PR from the List of Non-Self-Governing Territories, and ending USA obligation to report annually. The international community thought PR gained sovereignty,

5. Recognizes that, in the framework of their Constitution and of the compact agreed upon with the United States of America, the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have been invested with attributes of political sovereignty which clearly identifies the status of self-government attained by the Puerto Rico people as that of an autonomous political entity;

Still, PR didn’t achieve self-government with sovereignty. USA Congress maintained ultimate sovereignty over PR; in other words, PR stayed a colony. The intention of USA was clear. PR constitutional assembly drafted a Constitution which was sent to Washington for approval. USA specifically conditioned the approval of the new Constitution to explicit modifications. They required the following addition to Section 3 to Article VII of theConstitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,

Any amendment or revision of this constitution shall be consistent with the resolution enacted by the applicable provisions of the Constitution of the United States, with the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act and with Public Law 600, Eighty-first Congress, adopted in the nature of a compact

The result of all this is bad news for PR. It was vanished from the international view, placed under the carpet and out of sight. PR is neither a sovereign country nor it’s listed as a non-self-governing territory. PR is a colony that isn’t recognize as such by the international community. PR isn’t a member of the UN or any other international organization grouping sovereign nations; USA constantly blocks any attempt of membership. USA doesn’t have to take any step to transfer power to PR; they can quietly keep their colony. There is no one pressuring USA to comply with UN Charter or to respect PR fundamental human rights.

PR is a country hidden under the carpet, existing at an unknown place among the members of the international community. If we’re going to defend freedom and justice, we must uphold PR fundamental humans rights. If we’re going to carry out our responsibilities with the international community and comply with UN Charter; PR must either be a sovereign country within UN and CELAC, or it must be listed on the list of non-self-governing territories. The current international limbo isn’t an option.

USA government could choose on its own initiative to do what is right, ending PR limbo and colony. However, USA has always promoted the status quo for PR as a colony, and is the main agent resisting any change of PR status. Uncovering PR to the international community will require international and domestic pressure on USA government demanding the inclusion of PR on the list of non-self-governing territories.

About the Author

Reinaldo Martínez is a Project Manager in the Pharmaceutical Industry, and blogger for Repensando La Nación. He has written over 70 entries on 3 blogs, and have been published by in Periódico Digital Puertorriqueño La Nación, and Chispero. When his is not constructing, he like to comment on current Puerto Rico issues, or spend time with family and friends at the beach. You can contact Reinaldo on Twitter, @lifenbits, or his FB public page,


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