Statement by Yuri Gala López, Deputy Permanent Representative, Cuban Permanent Mission to United Nations, in the Committee on Decolonization on the question of Puerto Rico.

New York, June 22nd, 2023

Ms. President,

Our delegation associates itself with the NAM and CELAC statements.

Since the United States imposed the misnamed Freely Associated State (FAS) on Puerto Rico 71 years ago, the U.S. Congress has exercised full authority and full powers over Puerto Rico in matters such as defense, international relations, foreign trade, monetary policy, among others. The FAS was an act of clear colonial domination.

It was the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and even the government itself, who exposed the clumsy disguise, when in 2016 they pointed out that Puerto Rico lacks sovereignty of its own and is completely subject to the powers of Washington. In other words, it is a U.S. possession, a colonial territory.

Ms. President,

July 25, 2023 will mark 125 years since the United States intervened in Puerto Rico. However, so many years of colonial rule have not been able to take culture, identity and national sentiments from the Puerto Rican people. This alone demonstrates the invariable vocation of independence rooted in this sister nation.

This year, 2023, it will be 51 years since the adoption of the first resolution on the colonial question of Puerto Rico. Despite this and the Committee's many efforts, the Puerto Rican people continues unable to exercise its legitimate right to genuine self-determination.

On the contrary, the United States, the colonial power, is trying by all means to consolidate its economic, political and social domination over this brotherly Latin American and Caribbean people.

The Committee has already adopted 40 resolutions or decisions on the matter, and this year we will adopt the 41st. All of these resolutions or decisions have reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).

Once again, Cuba reaffirms this inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people, as well as the applicability of the fundamental principles of resolution 1514 (XV) to the question of Puerto Rico. This resolution emphasizes that the right to self-determination demands the transfer of powers, without conditions or reservations, thus rejecting the imposition of the laws and regulations of the metropolis and the economic and political subordination, inherent to colonialism, which could influence the electoral and consultation processes, in such a way as to undermine the possibility of the people to make a truly free decision based on their welfare and interests.

Ms. President,

We cannot fail to mention the difficult economic situation this territory is going through. Growth rates remain negative and the plan to restructure the $72 billion debt will have a negative effect on the territory for the next 40 years.

The final solution to the fate of Puerto Rico is not an internal affair for the United States; it is a matter for the Special Committee on Decolonization and the entire international community.

It is for this reason that at the last Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held in January 2023 in Buenos Aires, the Heads of State gathered there reiterated that this is a matter of great interest to CELAC, insisted on the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico, and pledged to continue working within the framework of international law to put a rapid and unconditional end to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Ms. President,

The Question of Puerto Rico is a colonial situation that must be urgently resolved and in accordance with the UN mandate. The United Nations General Assembly should continue to consider this matter comprehensively and in all its aspects, and make a pronouncement as soon as possible.

Cuba has a historic commitment to the self-determination and independence of the brotherly people of Puerto Rico, who will invariably count on our solidarity. We will continue to defend its legitimate right to self-determination and independence.

Thank you

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