By Rafael R. Díaz Torres
Special to the Puerto Rico Daily Sun
A multi-sector civil organization known as the National Council for Decolonization (CONADE for its Spanish acronym) announced on Wednesday the formation of a congress that would seek to integrate different interest groups on the island to discuss Puerto Rico's colonial issue and develop national self-determination options to resolve the perennial political problem in the Caribbean U.S. non-incorporated territory.
The congress will take place at the Río Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico and will be held from Oct. 24 until Oct. 29. According to the event’s organizers, the integration of diverse interest groups and non-partisan sectors has the purpose of developing decolonizing strategies outside of what they identified as the “monopoly” and top-to-bottom management controlled by traditional political parties.
“The National Council for Decolonization has always denounced that what people in this country usually denominate as the problem of status, is in fact, a problem of colonialism,” said CONADE spokesperson and lawyer, Humberto Pagán. “Political status is a series of options that range from integration or statehood, independence or free association if it fulfills the requisites according to the International Law. But our main problem is not one of status, but of colonialism.”
Pagán identified the lack of political sovereignty as the most relevant issue in colonialism as the people of Puerto Rico are unable to organize in a process of self-determination since the U.S. Congress has sovereign powers over the island and has the last word regarding the administration and international management of the Caribbean territory.
The group also criticized the New Progressive Party legislative majority’s intention to approve another political status plebiscite as has been expressed by both senators and representatives at the beginning of this year’s second ordinary session that started Monday in Capitol Hill.
“We have had three plebiscites in Puerto Rico and they have not solved anything,” said labor relations professor and CONADE member, Dr. Ramón Nenadich. “Political parties try to take advantage of this issue for their benefit. However, we all know that plebiscites do not solve anything because the U.S. Congress has the final word in the problem of the status in Puerto Rico.”
“The idea of this (CONADE) congress is to have a multi-sector analysis and deliberation and then present those options to the Puerto Rican and U.S. governments,” added Nenadich. “Involving the people is the only way to legitimately start a true process of decolonization without the impositions of traditional political parties.” CONADE also announced that its members have already approached residents of different communities that, according to them, are interested in becoming involved in the process of decolonization promoted by their organization.
“We have received good feedback from communities that are interested in participating, such as La Perla in San Juan and Villas Del Sol,” affirmed public administration graduate student, Raúl Mari Fernández. “These people from the communities are tired of having every four years the same people and political parties that do not take into the consideration their problems and needs. That is one of the big limitations of representative democracy.”
The congress is open to scholars, educators, civic leaders, politicians, workers, activists and citizens in general from all political spectrums on the island. People can submit abstracts for proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Aug. 30. The event is sponsored by the UPR’s College of Social Sciences, “Comité Timón Nación Boricua”, and the Social Sciences Department at the UPR’s College of General Education, among other civil and academic groups.