30 September 2013

Communique issued at the conclusion of the First Regional Conference on Reparations

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat

24 September 2013

On Sunday September 15th, the Caribbean Community opened the first Regional Reparations Conference at St. Vincent and the Grenadines' Victoria Park. The Conference was mandated by the historic, unanimous, decision of CARICOM Heads of Government in July, 2013, in Trinidad and Tobago. The Heads of Government also requested each CARICOM Member State to set up its own National Reparations Committee to document the effects of European genocide against the indigenous inhabitants of the region, the slave trade in and the enslavement of Africans, and the colonization of the country.

The evening began with the unprecedented singing of St. Vincent and the Grenadines' national anthem in both English and Garifuna. The huge gathering was welcomed by Mr. Jomo Thomas, Chair of the Reparations Committee of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Remarks were delivered by Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and by Hon. Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Barbados on behalf of Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Freundel Stuart, who is also Chairman of the Regional Ministerial Committee on Reparations. Dr. Verene Shepherd, Chair of the Jamaican Reparations Committee, gave the keynote address in which she recited the names and ages of many of the victims of the atrocities committed by the Europeans during slavery. Dr. Shepherd also emphasized the underreported fact that African women were integrally involved in all aspects of the resistance to slavery. Between speakers there were poetry and drumming performances.
The evening ended with a sterling performance in support of reparations by the legendary artist and Grammy Award Winner Hon. Bunny Wailer and his band who embodied the slogan "Culture as a Weapon."  Bunny’s repertoire comprised of a number of songs that sunk home the message of the plight of the black man suffering under colonial domination in a foreign land.

The second day of the conference started with a historical review of enslavement in the Caribbean by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, a leading historian on the issue of Slavery and Reparations and Principal of the UWI Campus at Cave Hill in Barbados. Dr. Beckles framed the task ahead by highlighting several issues discussed in his book "Britain's Black Debt".  Dr. Beckles mentioned the importance of including the diaspora in rectifying the effects of the European slave trade in Africans. Dr. Beckles was able to bring out the dehumanization as well as the criminal actions of those involved in Slavery in the Caribbean.  What became clear was the horrifying reality of the trade in Africans and further, their enslavement in the Caribbean. It was noted by Dr. Beckles that upon the abolition of slavery, European slave owners were paid reparations while nothing was paid to the newly freed. 

Presenters from various countries described the composition of reparations committees in their home countries, and the state of public opinion on the issue.  Some key areas covered related to the middle passage, deportation, wealth generated through slavery, and the depopulation and underdevelopment of Africa and the Caribbean as a result of enslavement.

It was mentioned that CARICOM should mandate reparations education in schools' curriculum.  Recognition was also given to past reparations initiatives, such as the work done by the Rastafari Movement and some major reparations conferences that have occurred in Nigeria, Washington DC, and Barbados.

On the third and final day of the Conference, a structure was proposed for the regional Commission. It was agreed that the body would be led by a Chairman and three Vice Chairs with responsibility for certain key tasks. Professor Hilary Beckles was elected as Chairperson of the CARICOM Regional Reparations Commission. Vice Chairs are Jomo Thomas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines ( responsible for inter-governmental relations), Dr. Verene Shepherd, Jamaica ( research), and Ahmad Zunder, Suriname, (mobilization).

The CARICOM Reparations Commission was constituted to achieve the following aims and objectives:
  • Establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of Reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions in those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialised system of chattel Slavery;
  • Advise and make recommendations for coordinated CARICOM action by the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparations;

  • Coordinate and support the work of National Reparations Commissions and Task Forces and encourage the development of Commissions in those countries that have not yet established national bodies;
  • Receive reports from National Reparations Commissions;

  • Develop and implement a regional strategy to pursue Reparations, including the following actions:
    • Coordinate and/or undertake relevant historical research at the national, regional and international levels;
    • Coordinate and/or undertake legal research to inform case preparation and litigation strategies;
    • Coordinate national and regional public education campaigns;
    • Coordinate and/or conduct national and regional public consultations on Reparations;
    • Develop and recommend diplomatic strategies to advance the case for Reparations in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, African Union, CELAC and with other supportive governments;
    • Identify and recommend the appointment of eminent spokespersons and champions for the cause of Reparations among artists, attorneys, scholars, indigenous peoples, Rastafarians, youth, women and politicians;
    • Engaging and partnering with national and regional civil society organizations involved in the Reparations Movement, especially the Rastafarian and Pan Africanist formations of the Caribbean;
  • Develop and recommend decisive political action at the national and regional levels through Parliamentary debates and resolutions and national, regional and international popular mobilization;

  • Conduct consultations to develop proposals on appropriate forms of redress through reparative programmes and projects;
  • Coordinate and/or undertake the preparation of a detailed brief on the cost of the damages and current manifestations of such damage on indigenous people and their descendants and on enslaved Africans and their descendants, in the following and other relevant areas:
    • Economic (including land deprivation)
    • Social, Cultural and Psychological
    • Spiritual and Religious
    • Demographic
    • Medical
    • Educational  

Assume the responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the legal case for Reparations and highlight the special case of Reparations for Haiti;

Serve as a quick response mechanism and develop a pro-active media campaign to raise public awareness and canvas support.

There were also presentations and discussions  on legal strategies for a successful reparations claim.  The legal presentation was done by the UK law firm of Leigh Day & Co. and it was evident that this effort would require a regional consortium of experts in law, research and academia. It was also emphasized that any legal effort must be coupled with the mobilization of our people and an intensification of the political and diplomatic outreach that has already begun.

It should also be noted that in addition to the governmental deliberation and decisions, the representatives of civil society organizations held their own caucus and made the historic decision to establish a Pan-Caribbean Civil Society Reparations Network.  The network was mandated to mobilize the Caribbean people in support of the quest for reparations, and to collaborate with and support the work of the National Reparations Committees and the CARICOM Regional Commission.

Participants considered that the conference was the first step in a series of conferences and workshops that were necessary to continue the reparations effort. It was agreed that a website should be created as a focal point for ensuring that information on the work of the Regional Commission and national committees/task forces was made readily available. It was further agreed that national committees/task forces would create facebook pages to highlight the progress of their work.

The Conference ended with a resolve to have a second follow-up conference within a reasonable time-frame to ensure that the momentum started in St. Vincent and the Grenadines could be accelerated.

What was absolutely clear was that not since the Caribbean struggles for independence has the Region embarked on a journey of such magnitude and import for the future development of the people and region!

As we go forward, local committees have been urged to start the education and mobilization process in their own countries. For those who have not yet set up reparations committees they are being urged to do so quickly and to lean on the experiences of those who have already done so in the interest of efficiency and speed.

The Prime Ministerial Committee on reparations will quickly ratify the terms of reference adopted by the Regional Reparations Commission so that this commission can move ahead with the task that has been set before it.

It is hoped that the work in all countries would be advanced enough by the end of this year to enable a letter to be sent to the European countries being targeted for reparations to at least seek to begin a conversation on the issue with them.

The Conference had representatives from 12 CARICOM countries namely: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. There were also representatives from Guadeloupe, Martinique, US Virgin Islands, the UK, Canada, the United States and the Netherlands.  

29 September 2013

Dutch Apologise for Indonesian Executions

Al Jazeera

DOHA,  (Al Jazeera) - The Dutch government has formally apologised for the mass killing of Indonesians during colonial occupation which ended in 1949.

The Dutch ambassador in Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, officially presented the state’s apology at a Jakarta ceremony on Thursday.

“On behalf of the Dutch government I apologise for these excesses,” De Zwaan said.

The Netherlands had already apologised and paid compensation in certain specific cases, but this was the first general apology for atrocities carried out during the colonial era.

“The Dutch government is aware that it bears a special responsibility in respect of Indonesian widows of victims of summary executions comparable to those carried out by Dutch troops in what was then Celebes (Sulawesi) and Rawa Gede (West Java),” De Zwaan added.


28 September 2013


Santa Rosa

The year 2013 marks the 376th anniversary of the historic revolt of the Carib Chief of Kairi (Trinidad) Hyarima, against the then Spanish colonizers in the year 1637. The year 2013 also falls within the second International Decade of the Indigenous Peoples that extends from 2005 to 2014.

Since the arrival of the European colonizers and subsequent peoples from various countries and continents, the cultural heritage of the First Peoples has undergone catastrophic changes. Over the last five hundred years, the First Peoples’ Nations across the Caribbean have met with immeasurable hardships and much of their cultural heritage is on the verge of extinction.

To counter this threat of annihilation, the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community is having its week-long Amerindian Heritage celebrations in the month of October, 2013. The aim is to preserve, share and showcase the cultural values, ways of life and traditions of the First Peoples in Trinidad & Tobago, across the Caribbean and North and South America.


27 September 2013

Curacao plans for space travel in 2014

Commercial space travel could come to Curacao as early as 2014. Curacao Airport Holding managing director Maurice Adriaens announced the projected launch date for the ambitious project, during his presentation at the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which took place at the Curacao World Trade Centre from September 9-10. The island of Curacao is tipped to host SXC’s second launchpad, the first being located in an Air and Space Port in the Mojave desert, United States. Spaceflight participants will be launched from the Curacao spaceport into suborbital space above the surface of the Earth and then safely looped back to Earth, according to an online promotional video on the Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) official Web site.

Addressing a multi-stakeholder audience on the second day of the Roadshow, Adriaens’ presentation highlighted the downstream economic benefits that would flow from the development of an indigenous commercial human spaceflight industry. The prospect of transitioning the island’s economy from traditional tourism to space tourism generated great interest in the room and amongst the foreigners represented at the regional gathering. “It’s a good dream, isn’t it?” he asked. “So…who wants to be a Curanaut?”

Adriaens was among a number of local and international presenters from a range of backgrounds demonstrated the potential of ICT to impact e-health, e-learning, e-commerce, cyber security, telecommunication, and youth. The spaceflight presentation was part of the CTU’s emphasis on technological innovation as an engine for Caribbean development. Organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Caribbean ICT Roadshow is now into its third year, having visited 17 countries across the region. According to CTU secretary general Bernadette Lewis, the programme is “designed to foster a spirit of innovation in the adoption of ICT-based practical solutions to development challenges”.

26 September 2013

Delaying the nuclear free zone in the Pacific

By Nic Maclellan

At the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, a treaty to create a South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, or SPNFZ, was opened for signature on Hiroshima Day, 6 August 1985, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Rarotonga.

Twenty-eight years after it was signed on that day by Australia, New Zealand and island nations, the United States still hasn’t ratified its protocols, in spite of a request from President Barack Obama to the US Senate more than two years ago.

This week, as Forum leaders gather in the Marshall Islands – host to sixty-seven US nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls – the US government eager to keep nuclear issues off the agenda, as it has been since the Treaty was first mooted. Declassified documents from the National Archives of Australia, and US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, highlight longstanding opposition in Canberra and Washington to a comprehensive nuclear-free zone that might hamper US nuclear deployments in the Pacific.

The Forum meeting, and the US Senate’s continued stalling, coincide with on-going concerns that Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India threatens to breach Australian treaty obligations.




LA CONVENTION POUR UNE GUADELOUPE NOUVELLE, informe les guadeloupéennes et les guadeloupéens qu'un processus de grande envergure a été lancé en juillet 2013 à TRINIDAD et continué en septembre à ST VINCENT, par les états de notre région au sein de la CARICOM, qui consiste à réclamer à L' ANGLETERRE, LA FRANCE, LES PAYS BAS ET L'ESPAGNE la réparation du préjudice subi par nos peuples suite à l'esclavage , à la colonisation et au génocide des amérindiens les premiers occupants de cette terre .

La CONVENTION approuve , soutient et participe à ce processus qui est une composante du combat pour la souveraineté de nos pays et la dignité de nos peuples. Elle rejoint ainsi l'ensemble des organisations régionales de l' Amérique latine.

Pour les nationalistes de la Guadeloupe , ce processus constitue une formidable opportunité pour que la Guadeloupe devienne enfin un des acteurs de la Caraïbe ce qui n'est pas encore malheureusement le cas. Le comité national guadeloupéen pour les réparations doit à la fois mobiliser autour de ce thème les guadeloupéens et les formations politiques qui militent pour la souveraineté, et surtout solliciter l'adhésion au comité de la Caraïbe afin de participer avec tous les caribéens au renforcement de la communauté Caraïbe au sein des organisations régionales latino américaines et dans le monde.

La réparation du préjudice subi par nos peuples est une nécessité. 


25 September 2013

President of United Nations General Assembly opens general debate

H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the General Assembly

More than 130 world leaders are gathering at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly's annual General Debate, which kicks off Tuesday and aims to set the stage for building a new global development agenda which both protects the planet and promotes equity, justice and prosperity for all people.

Begining Tuesday (Sept. 24) and continuing through 1 October, the General Debate will provide an opportunity for high-level political officials to weigh in on what John Ashe, President of the Assembly's 68th session, has called “pivotal” talks on identifying the parameters of the post-2015 sustainability agenda, which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals - the eight anti-poverty targets that galvanized the world in 2000.

Thus far, 84 heads of State, 41 heads of Government, 11 Deputy Prime Ministers and 65 Foreign Ministers are scheduled to address the Assembly on sustainable development, poverty eradication, climate change, human rights, and a range of peace and security).


H.E. Ambassador John W. Ashe 
President of the 68th Session of the United Nations 
General Assembly 
New York 
24 September 2013 

Opening of the United Nations General Assembly 
General Debate

It is a special privilege for me to welcome you to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. As I do so I am reminded of the long journey to this point in time – a journey that began nearly sixty-years ago on the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. There, in a household of seven kids, whose parents never had the opportunity to complete high school and could therefore not provide academic guidance to their offspring, one child, whose paternal grandfather signed his name with a X and whose mother was a descendant of slave plantation owners in the sister island of Barbados, was determined to be the first in his family’s generation to attend University and seek an opportunity wherever it may occur to make a difference. 

I AM THAT CHILD of those parents! 

And as I was reminded just yesterday at the ceremony for the unveiling of the winning design for the Permanent Memorial to honour victims of the Trans-Altantic Slave Trade, the ancestral journey began centuries ago, in an era when unspeakable cruelty and man’s inhumanity to man were in full bloom and were in many ways the currency of the day. 

And while the more recent history was one filled with tremendous challenges and opportunities, it has nevertheless been quite a journey.


Also see: 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/25/3650910/antiguan-assembly-head-increases.html#storylink=cpy

Instituto Alsa Papiamentu pays homage to Prof. Dr. Frank Martinus Arion

Special to Overseas Territories Review

WILLEMSTAD — Professor Frank Martinus Arion received the award ‘Papiamentu Den Moveshon’ (Papiamentu in motion) in Curaçao from Instituto Alsa Papiamentu within the framework of a celebration of their 5th anniversary. 

This organization of teachers of Papiamentu in primary, secondary and tertiary education, strives to enhance the importance of Papiamentu as a mother tongue in education, government administration and other sectors of the community. The writer himself is an honorary member and professes that he cannot imagine people living in a world where they’re not taught in their mother tongue and be satisfied with that.

Dr. Enrique Muller, another honorary member, praised Arion in his introduction by mentioning his courage to go where no one dared venture and that he did it with excellent results. “He showed us the way and we will follow him finding new paths for future research and uses of our language.”

Several speakers elaborated on the impact of Arion on Papiamentu and Dutch literature and the emancipation of the Papiamentu language in general. According to Dr. Marta Dijkhoff, chairwoman of Instituto Alsa Papiamentu, who spoke of the author’s vision and role in the emancipation of Papiamentu, they think the world of the author in the Netherlands, while he is taken for granted on Curaçao.

He received several awards for his books in Dutch, including the Lucy B. and C.W. van der Hooft Award in 1974 for ‘Dubbelspel’ (which has been translated into English as Double Play, next to German and Danish); the ABC Award 1993 and the Cola Debrot Award 2001 for ‘De laatste vrijheid’ (The last freedom). In 2011 he was nominated for the Jan Hanlo Essay Award for the publication of ‘Intimiteiten van het schrijven’ (Intimacies of writing). In the same year Changá, the Papiamentu version of Dubbelspel became a reality.

Dijkhoff and Arion worked together at the Instituto Lingwístiko Antiano (ILA) on the spelling, standardization and structure of the Creole language on the Leeward Islands. The ILA also published several books of Papiamentu authors. Arion was also ahead of his time. In 1987, as Papiamentu was introduced as a subject at elementary school level, he started a school, Kolegio Erasmo with Papiamentu as the language of instruction. The government followed in 2011.

Dr. Ronnie Severing, director of Fundashon pa Planifikashon di Idioma (FPI), spoke about Arion’s career, and of moments when the two had met, from being a student in the Netherlands to professors at the University of Curacao.

Former minister Norman Girigorie, a nephew of the author, spoke about his political past. In 1988 Arion founded the political party KARA, ‘Kambio Rápido (immediate change)’ that later on (under the name of KARA NOBO) joined Pueblo Soberano, the only party that strives for the independence of Curaçao.

Jacqueline Cras showed the audience the personal side of Arion. Being a friend of the family, she exposed the soul of the author. Her speech was awarded with a standing ovation.

All ABC-Islands were represented at this event. The sister organization Lanta Papiamentu from Aruba who was represented by their chairwoman, Joyce Pereira, showed  their appraisal by presenting the Curaçao organization with an award on their 5th  year of struggle for a better position of the mother tongue at all levels of society.

A writer from Aruba, Munye Oduber – Winklaar dedicated a poem to Arion.

Several students of Skol Humanista na Papiamentu showed their talents of singing, reading and dancing, among them his daughter Margi, one of the very first students. The event was also accompanied by an exposition of the national library of Curacao (recently named after him) about his collective works in Dutch, English and Papiamentu.

The event took place at the NAAM (National Archaeological - Anthropological Memory Management Institute).

24 September 2013

Guam, Northern Marianas governors convene first Summit

Inos, Calvo discuss Marianas issues

Press Release
Office of the Governor
Northern Mariana Islands

 “We’ve reached a point in the growth of our islands where it is extremely important for us to work together with Guam to strengthen the Marianas as a whole,” Gov. Eloy S. Inos said.

I am very much pleased to have hosted Gov. Eddie B. Calvo and his team for this first summit. While there is still much work ahead of us, I am deeply comforted by the collaborative spirit we’ve established and the strong commitment of our governments to make good things happen for our people and our islands.”

According to Calvo, “Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands face similar issues when it comes to our relationships with the federal government, build-up plans, and issues on infrastructure. I am grateful to the administration of the CNMI for hosting this initial summit. While there are so many issues facing the Northern Mariana Islands, there are even more opportunities. The military buildup is important to all of the Marianas, but there’s still so much more to address. If we come together, we can reach our full potential.”

For the first time in recent history, the governors of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam held a summit to exchange ideas and brainstorm solutions together for issues facing the Marianas.

Inos met with Calvo to outline the challenges the CNMI and Guam encounter regarding the military realignment, economic development, economic exchange, and healthcare. The mayors of Tinian and Rota, the president of the Senate, and the speaker of the House also attended the summit.

Military buildup

Inos and Calvo shared their experiences with the military buildup. Guam and the CNMI have been negotiating buildup plans for years, though these negotiations never were coordinated together. The CNMI and Guam face similar challenges with the military buildup. The two governors compared their respective relationship with military buildup officials.

In the CNMI, things are more complicated because the Navy, Marines, and the Air Force each have ongoing environmental impact studies in and around the CNMI evaluating potential locations of military testing and training sites, firing ranges, and alternative airfields. This situation can present challenges in communicating and synchronizing solutions that meet the expectations of all parties.

On Guam, the buildup effort has evolved to one where Governor Calvo has obtained assurances from the Navy, Joint Guam Program Office and the Commander of Joint Region Marianas to help deliver a promised “One Guam” approach. This ensures news and proposals dealing with the military buildup come from one source.

Inos acknowledged the strategies that have been successful for Guam and DoD and hopes to explore similar solutions for the CNMI.

Federal mandates

Calvo and Inos both spoke about the federal mandates that neither Guam nor the CNMI can afford to implement on their own. An example is Obamacare, which will bankrupt Guam and the CNMI without adequate funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services — money every state is entitled to, yet the territories are excluded from receiving. This is similar to the application of EITC on Guam.

Inter-island industries

The Marianas Summit delegation explored the feasibility of importing cattle from the CNMI into Guam. Talks are ongoing between stakeholders of the CNMI and Guam and they were brought up during the summit meeting. CNMI ranchers want to expand business opportunities here on Guam by establishing a cattle industry. The issue, though, stems from a difference in the laws of the CNMI and Guam.

Calvo expressed his desire to see where the changes need to be made, and how we can make this profitable for the peoples of the Marianas.

Other important issues

Discussions on sharing resources of the hospital, residents facing issues with Guam Customs, the feasibility of a ferry service to alleviate costs, and strategies for both territories to expand their tourism markets also took place.

At this initial meeting, Calvo and Inos instructed their respective teams to work to develop policies that will address the issues and concerns that were raised.

22 September 2013

¿Qué es a lo que Puerto Rico tiene derecho? / What does Puerto Rico have a right to?

Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico (PR) siempre ha sido una colonia. Primero fue colonia de España por 405 años. Luego, PR pasa a ser colonia de Estados Unidos (115 años). Lo que se llama el Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico fue un engaño de Estados Unidos (EEUU) para enmascarar su relación colonial con PR en 1952. El año siguiente, EEUU le pide a la Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU) que saque a Puerto Rico de su lista de colonias. La ONU aceptó su petición, pero luego se dio cuenta de la decepción. Por eso es que ahora la ONU celebra cada junio una vista sobre la descolonización de Puerto Rico. Sin embargo, la ONU no ha regresado a Puerto Rico a su lista de colonias, aunque PR representa la más vieja y la más poblada (3.7 millones) de todas las colonias que todavía quedan por descolonizar. 

Estados Unidos ayudó establecer la Organización de Naciones Unidas después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Su propósito fue fomentar la paz entre las naciones. En 1960, la ONU declaró el colonialismo un crimen en contra de la humanidad precisamente porque la misma constituye una amenaza a la paz mundial. Actualmente, Estados Unidos comete un crimen internacional al tener a Puerto Rico en una relación colonial. ¡Qué interesante que EEUU, la misma que ayudó fundar la ONU para asegurar la paz mundial, tenga una relación colonial que la misma ONU considera una amenaza a la paz mundial! ¡Y para colmo, actualmente EEUU tiene a un presidente que se ganó el premio Nobel de la Paz en 2009!

Para enmascarar este derroche de contradicciones, el gobierno de EEUU le propone a PR que use los plebiscitos para tratar de descolonizarse. Hay dos problemas con eso. La primera es que EEUU no tiene jurisdicción en el proceso de descolonización, porque ella tiene un conflicto de intereses en este asunto. Por eso es que la descolonización está en la jurisdicción de la ley internacional. La segunda es que no hay nada para un plebiscito decidir. La única ruta para una colonia es convertirse en una nación soberana. Estos plebiscitos están diseñados solo para engañar al mundo que EEUU está interesada en descolonizar a Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico no tiene el derecho a ser una colonia, porque dicha relación es ilegal según la ley internacional. Por lo tanto, la relación política actual de PR no es una opción descolonizadora aunque 100% de los puertorriqueños voten por ella. Puerto Rico no tiene el derecho a convertirse en una república asociada con EEUU, o ser un estado de esa Unión. Antes de eso, Puerto Rico tendría que ser lo que solo tenemos derecho a ser. Como colonia, el único derecho que tenemos los puertorriqueños es ser una nación soberano. 

Después que seamos una nación soberano, podríamos convertirnos en cualquier otra cosa que queramos. Si Puerto Rico quisiera ser una república asociada o estado de Estados Unidos, tendíamos que negociarlo con ella. Si EEUU no quisiera, no hay nada que PR pueda hacer al respecto porque no tenemos el derecho a ellas, ni por las leyes de EEUU o por la ley internacional. 

La calidad de vida en Puerto Rico nunca va a mejorar mientras seamos una colonia. ¿Por qué no protestar pacíficamente por el único derecho que tenemos? Continuar divididos entre opciones que no tenemos el derecho a tener es prolongar la miseria que vive Puerto Rico. Únete a 2 protestas pacíficas al año hasta lograr la descolonización de Puerto Rico. Las colonias son únicamente para la explotación por los imperios. ¡Por eso es que los que practican el colonialismo no creen en la justicia para todos! 

Puerto Rico has always been a colony. Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for 405 years, and later, until the present (115 years), a colony of the United States (US). What people call the “Commonwealth of Puerto Rico” was an attempt by the US to hide her colonial relationship with Puerto Rico in 1952. The following year, the US asked the United Nations (UN) to remove Puerto Rico from its list of colonies. The UN accepted the petition, but later realized the US’ deception. This is why the UN now holds a hearing every June about Puerto Rico decolonization. The UN, however, has refused to put Puerto Rico back on its list of colonies even though Puerto Rico represents the oldest and the most populated colony (3.7 million) among all the colonies left to be decolonized!

The United States helped establish the United Nations (UN) to try to encourage and maintain world peace among nations after World War II. In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed colonialism a crime against humanity precisely because the UN considered it a threat to world peace. Presently, the United States commits an international crime by having Puerto Rico as her colony. Isn’t it ironic that the US, as one of the founding countries of the United Nations, has a colonial relationship that the UN itself considers a threat to world peace? And to make matters even worse, the United States presently has a president who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009! 

To further mask this array of contradictions, the US always advises Puerto Rico to use plebiscites as the vehicle for decolonization. There are 2 problems with that. The first one is that the US does not have jurisdiction over decolonization. To do so would constitute a conflict of interest. Decolonization is under the jurisdiction of international law. The second problem is that there is nothing for a plebiscite to decide. A colony’s path is only toward becoming an independent nation under international law. These plebiscites are only designed to continue the deception that the US has an interest in decolonization. 

Puerto Rico does not have the right to be a colony, since that relationship is illegal according to international law. Therefore, Puerto Rico’s current relationship with the United States is not an option even if 100% of Puerto Ricans were to vote for it. Puerto Rico does not have a right to become an associated nation with the US, or a state of that Union. Before that could happen, Puerto Rico would have to become first what she only has a right to. As a colony, the only right that Puerto Rico has under international law is to become an independent nation. 

Once Puerto Rico becomes an independent nation, then she could decide what she wants other than being an independent nation. If Puerto Rico wants to become an associated republic with the US, or a state of the United States, PR would have to negotiate that with the US. If the US does not want to enter into either of these relationships with Puerto Rico, there is nothing PR could do about that because we have no right to them under US or international law. 

The quality of life in Puerto Rico will never improve as long as we continue to be a colony. Why not protest peacefully for the only thing that we have a right to? To continue to divide our efforts in directions that are not possible is to prolong the devastation the Puerto Rico lives. Join 2 peaceful protests a year until Puerto Rico gets decolonized. Colonies are for the sole purpose of exploitation by empires. Therefore, those who practice colonialism don’t believes in justice for all!

21 September 2013

UN expert urges respect for the rights of Cherokee child in custody dispute

GENEVA  – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, today called on the relevant state, federal and tribal authorities in the United States of America to take all necessary measures to ensure the wellbeing and human rights of ‘Veronica,’ an almost four year old Cherokee child at the center of a highly contentious custody dispute.

“Veronica’s human rights as a child and as member of the Cherokee Nation, an indigenous people, should be fully and adequately considered in the ongoing judicial and administrative proceedings that will determine her future upbringing,” Mr. Anaya stressed. “The individual and collective rights of all indigenous children, their families and indigenous peoples must be protected throughout the United States.”

Veronica is currently facing judicially ordered removal from her Cherokee family and community. In June of this year the US Supreme Court ruled that certain protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply to proceedings in which a non-Cherokee couple sought to adopt Veronica, given the particular circumstances of the case. The high court, however, it did not make an ultimate determination of the disposition of the adoption proceedings.

Following the Supreme Court decision, a South Carolina state court awarded custody of Veronica to the non-Cherokee couple, but it did so without a determination of whether her transfer away from her Cherokee family would be in her best interests in light of her current situation and Cherokee heritage. Although Veronica lived with the non-Cherokee couple in South Carolina for the first two years of her life, she has now resided with her father and extended indigenous family in Cherokee territory in the state of Oklahoma for nearly two years.

South Carolina authorities have attempted to force Veronica’s father to release custody of her, charging him with custodial interference for his refusal to do so. On 3 September 2013 the Oklahoma Supreme Court took up the case, granting a temporary stay of an enforcement order and allowing the father to keep Veronica pending further proceedings.

“I urge the relevant authorities, as well as all parties involved in the custody dispute, to ensure the best interests of Veronica, fully taking into account her rights to maintain her cultural identity and to maintain relations with her indigenous family and people,” said the UN Special Rapporteur.

The independent expert pointed out that these rights are guaranteed by various international instruments subscribed to or endorsed by the US, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In his 2012 report* on the situation of indigenous peoples in the US, the Special Rapporteur noted that the removal and separation of Indian children from indigenous environments is an issue of longstanding and ongoing concern. “While past practices of removal of Indian children from their families and communities have been partially blunted by passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, this law continues to face barriers to its implementation,” Mr. Anaya stated.

“I encourage the United States to work with indigenous peoples, state authorities and other interested parties to investigate the current state of affairs relating to the practices of foster care and adoption of indigenous children, and to develop procedures for ensuring that the rights of these children are adequately protected,” the UN Special Rapporteur said.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed S. James Anaya as Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in March 2008. Mr. Anaya is a Regents Professor and the James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights Law and Policy at the University of Arizona (United States). As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. 

Learn more, log on:

 to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx
(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s 2012 report on the USA: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session21/Pages/ListReports.aspx
See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/RES/61/295&Lang=E
UN Human Rights Country Page – United States of America: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

For more information and media inquiries, please contact Maia Campbell (+ 41 22 917 9314 / mcampbell@ohchr.org) or write to indigenous@ohchr.org.
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
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