31 May 2014

Puerto Rico intensifies efforts to secure exemption from U.S. shipping law

PRFAA Director and Resident Commissioner meet to start designing strategies for Jones Act exemption

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the State of the Commonwealth Address on April 29, 2014, Governor Alejandro García Padilla stated: “The Jones Act makes our maritime commerce with other countries more difficult. The valuable report by the Action Panel that I convened a few weeks ago stresses, once again, the need to deal with this issue. We must take on the challenge as a people, without divisions. As in every issue that touches every one of us as a people, to achieve this goal we must work together, in a united front. I am asking our office in Washington, and the Resident Commissioner, to design a joint strategy to implement the changes that this task requires, so that we may be successful in achieving our goal.”

In response to the Governor’s call for unity and collaboration, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Director Juan E. Hernández met today with the Resident Commissioner in his congressional office in Washington D.C. During the meeting, Director Hernández expressed Governor García Padilla’s support for H.R. 2838, which is a bill that would partially exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. In addition, Director Hernández suggested several strategies, one of them being to send a joint letter to every Member of Congress asking them to support the bill, to which the Resident Commissioner agreed. Another idea that was mutually agreed upon was that both offices organize a congressional briefing to obtain additional support for the bill.

Director Hernández said: “I am pleased to inform the country that this was a positive and productive meeting where I presented several ideas to advance our mutual goal of alleviating the Jones Act’s impact, which to this day restricts our economy from growing. It is imperative that we achieve a significant reduction in the transportation costs of products and natural gas to our Island in order to reduce energy costs, and stimulate our economic development. This was the first meeting we have had on the issue and I am glad that it coincided with the International Worker’s Day, proving the importance of this issue to all Puerto Rican workers.”

30 May 2014

The Plight of African descendants in Ukraine


Ukraine Unrest And Attacks On Black People

Africans In Ukraine photo
Black people in Ukraine protesting against racism
AFRICANGLOBE – The People of African Descent in Ukraine are passing through difficult times.
The ongoing political unrest has brought about unexpected economic and other crises among most people living in the country. However, the People of African Descent bear the most brunt for obvious reasons. Most Ukrainians know little about the People of African Descent except the negative and unpleasant news about their continent and countries that make the headlines, which are not necessarily their general life pattern nor the countries concerned. This contributes to making the struggles for basic human rights of the People of African Descent an uneasy task.
When the demonstrations started late last year, demanding the then President Victor Yarnukovych not to backtrack on its promise to sign the proposed closer cooperation agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, not many people thought that it could turn into a full-blown, protracted unrest of such a magnitude, affecting the political, cultural and even social fabrics of the society. But even before the situation would reach this level, most People of African Descent here had already started feeling the heat. The already hard-to-find jobs have dwindled and students are no more getting the scanty financial supplements they make from part-time jobs. On their part, the petty traders who survive with their families on daily sales from the markets complain that the markets are dry, virtually no sales. Adding to this is the security factor.
Behind the scenes, at a time that all attention is focused on the ongoing political unrest, some extremists and anti-Blacks see the situation as an opportunity to realize their attacks against the People of African Descent, the visible minorities. Groups of Ukrainian young adults, at times with masks in their faces, have on a number of occasions, ambushed and attacked the People of African Descent in and near the market places where they sell, and other places where they normally pass. (Following is a link to one of such attacks caught on security camera).


29 May 2014

PrepCom for 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended in predictable disappointment


Eyewitness to Nuke Explosion Challenges World Powers

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, triggering health and environmental problems which still plague the nation. Credit: Christopher Michel/cc by 2.0
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, triggering health and environmental problems which still plague the nation. Credit: Christopher Michel/cc by 2.0
 When the Foreign Minister of Marshall Islands Tony de Brum addressed a nuclear review Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting at the United Nations last month, he asked whether anyone in the room had witnessed a nuclear explosion.
The question was met, not surprisingly, with resounding silence.
As a nine-year-old boy, the minister vividly remembered seeing the white flash of the Bravo detonation on Bikini atoll, six decades ago. It was 1,000 times more powerful than Hiroshima, he told PrepCom delegates, mostly proponents of nuclear disarmament.

A two-week-long meeting of the PrepCom for the upcoming 2015 review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended in predictable disappointment.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and the U.N. Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), told IPS the PrepCom succeeded in adopting an agenda for the 2015 conference.

But “to no one’s surprise, it did not accomplish anything else,” he added.


28 May 2014

Puerto Rico, Spain in talks on expanding commercial activities

PR, Spain seek to tighten trade ties


Gov. Alejandro García Padilla and other Puerto Rico officials are pitching the island as an ideal place for investment by Spanish companies looking to tap into the U.S. and Latin American markets.

García Padilla met Thursday with Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo at La Fortaleza in Old San Juan, where he touted a “new relationship” between Puerto Rico and the Iberian nation.

“This visit symbolizes the start of a new relationship that gives Puerto Ricans access to Europe and Spaniards access to the Americas,” García Padilla said.

“Puerto Rico has finally decided to leave behind the paradigm that told us that there was only one place to look if we wanted achieve economic development,” the governor said, pointing to the United States, which won the island as war booty from the Spanish-American War in 1898. “Yes we must continue to still looking to the U.S. and Canada, maybe even with even more intensity. But the post-World War II Europe is gone and Europe is on the rise.”
The governor said Spain is positioned as a door to tapping the European Union and its 500,000 consumers as well as North Africa.


26 May 2014

Okinawa Mayor opposes U.S. base on sensitive land


By Sangwon Yoon

Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago on Okinawa island, acknowledges he’s failed so far to persuade the Japanese and U.S. governments to drop plans to move an American military base to ecologically sensitive land in his city.
But he’s not giving up.
Inamine yesterday questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. military force on Okinawa and vowed to use his mayoral authority to block permits for the new base. He also promised to press his case with the global community and environmentalists about the threat the facility would pose to the biodiversity of Nago’s Henoko area, including to endangered sea cows also known as manatees.
“Why should only Okinawa hold the burden for security of all of Japan, when the presence of U.S. Marines doesn’t play a big role in deterring China?” Inamine, 68, said in an interview in Washington. “I, as mayor, have operational control over two ports that are needed for use as construction landfill and I will exercise all powers in the municipality to block access.”

25 May 2014

Northern Marianas Governor rejects legislation creating political status commission that would review dependency status


Governor Eloy S. Inos of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) has vetoed a bill creating a new commission to examine whether the people desire continuing the islands’ current political relationship with the United States.

He said it is doubtful that such commission could “unilaterally” alter that relationship adding that one of the bill’s provisions is “almost certain” to be unconstitutional.

The veto comes almost two months after the CNMI marked on March 24 the 38th year of the 1976 signing of the mutually negotiated Covenant that made the Northern Marianas a part of the American political family, and paved the way for its qualified people to become U.S. citizens in 1986.

Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), chairman of the Federal and Foreign Affairs Committee that reviewed and recommended the bill’s passage, said he was disappointed with the veto.

He said other members are still reviewing the governor’s message to see whether they would try to override the veto.

“I am not in conformance with the opinion. There is uniqueness in the Commonwealth’s relationship with the United States pursuant to the Covenant,” he said.

House Bill 18-112, House Draft 1, authored by Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan), seeks to create a Second Marianas Political Status Commission to examine whether the people of the CNMI desire continuing its relationship with the U.S. pursuant to the Covenant.

The proposed commission would also determine whether that continuation of relationship is in the CNMI people’s best interest, or whether some other political status would better enable them to fulfill their “aspirations of full and meaningful self-government.”

The governor cited these reasons for vetoing the bill: unconstitutional provision and a unilateral alteration of the political relationship between the CNMI and the U.S.

Section 4 of the bill states partly that anyone appointed to serve on the commission shall be, among other things, “a person of Northern Marianas descent as defined in Article XII 4 of the NMI Constitution.”

“Unfortunately, it is almost certain that the emphasized language violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I 6 of the Commonwealth Constitution,” the governor said in his May 9 veto message to House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan).

Inos added that the equal protection clause prohibits the government from discriminating between similarly situated individuals. Importantly, he said, the equal protection clause’s prohibitions are not limited to discrimination on the basis of race or gender.

“A court reviewing HB 18-112, HD1 would almost certainly find the requirement that a commission member must be a ‘person of Northern Marianas descent as defined in Article XII 4 of the N.M.I. Constitution’ constitutes invidious discrimination in violation of the equal protection clauses of the United States and Commonwealth Constitutions,” the governor said.

Proponents of the bill said it “doesn’t hurt” to re-examine the CNMI-U.S. political relationship, while others said Covenant Section 902 discussions could be the better venue. Still, others said the Legislature should place the question on the ballot for voters to decide, before creating a commission.

The governor also vetoed two other bills: HB 18-87 and HB 18-1, HS1, SD1.

The first bill intends to punish public officials that issue unlawful orders to subordinates, which the governor said is already part of existing law, among other things. The second bill ratifies the adoption of the 2009 editions of the International Building Code and International Fire Code, but the governor said the measure violates the Constitution, among other things.

24 May 2014

British Virgin Islands hosts Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council



British Virgin Islands Press Release
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has just returned from a Meeting in Montserrat where he encouraged members of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council (COCTC) to strengthen the level of cooperation in the region, and unite to resolve common challenges.
In addressing the gathering on May 16, Premier Smith urged the Council to jointly assess political, economic and social situations and reflect on the needs as they relate to relevant programming priorities. He further rallied the leaders to work together as a region.
The COCTC meeting was held in Montserrat from May 15-16 to discuss the regional programming for the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). In attendance were officials from the Caribbean British and Dutch Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, Saint Maarten, Curacao, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands.
Other topics discussed at the meeting focused on cooperation in the areas of food security, capacity building, waste management, health, tourism, renewable energy, transitioning away from fossils fuels, blending facilities to promote investment, and access to fisheries.
The Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council was established in April 2012 as a framework for discussions aimed at strengthening Regional Cooperation, enhancing international cooperation, addressing issues of mutual interest and concern, as well as sharing resources and overcoming common challenges among Caribbean Overseas Territories.

22 May 2014

Ma'ohi Nui (French Polynesia) dedicates monument to United Nations re-inscription

Photo by OTR

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 17 May 2013

[without reference to a Main Committee (A/67/L.56/Rev.1 and Add.1)]
67/265.    Self-determination of French Polynesia

          The General Assembly,

          Recalling the Charter of the United Nations, its resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 containing the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and its resolution 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960,

          Taking into account articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[1] regarding the right of self-determination and the recommendation of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at its eleventh session on the implementation of basic fundamental human rights articulated in the Declaration, particularly the right to self-determination,[2]

          Taking note of the resolution of the Assembly of French Polynesia, adopted in Papeete, Tahiti, on 18 August 2011, in which it expressed its will that French Polynesia be reinscribed on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the decision taken by the Council of Ministers of the Government of French Polynesia on 15 June 2011 to call for the reinscription,

          Welcoming the decision of the Heads of State or Government of Pacific States taken at the second “Engaging with the Pacific” regional meeting, held in Nadi, Fiji, on 1 and 2 September 2011, to support the reinscription of French Polynesia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories,

          Taking note of the communiqué of the second Polynesian Leaders Group meeting, held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on 25 August 2012, in which the Group affirmed its support for the reinscription of French Polynesia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories,

          Welcoming the decisions of the Pacific Islands Forum, taken at its meetings held in Apia, from 5 to 7 August 2004, Auckland, New Zealand, on 7 and 8 September 2011, and Rarotonga, Cook Islands, from 28 to 30 August 2012, to support the principle of the right to self-determination of the people of French Polynesia,

          Welcoming also the Final Document of the Sixteenth Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries,[3] held in Tehran from 26 to 31 August 2012, affirming the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to self-determination in accordance with Chapter XI of the Charter and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV),

          Recalling that French Polynesia, as the former French Establishments in Oceania, was originally considered a Non-Self-Governing Territory in General Assembly resolution 66 (I) of 14 December 1946, and noting that the Government of France has not transmitted any further information regarding French Polynesia since 1946,

          1.       Affirms the inalienable right of the people of French Polynesia to self-determination and independence in accordance with Chapter XI of the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), recognizes that French Polynesia remains a Non-Self-Governing Territory within the meaning of the Charter, and declares that an obligation exists under Article 73 e of the Charter on the part of the Government of France, as the administering Power of the Territory, to transmit information on French Polynesia;

          2.       Requests the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to consider the question of French Polynesia at its next session and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its sixty-eighth session;

          3.       Requests the Government of France, as the Administering Power concerned, to intensify its dialogue with French Polynesia in order to facilitate rapid progress towards a fair and effective self-determination process, under which the terms and timelines for an act of self-determination will be agreed, and to extend its cooperation to the Special Committee in the implementation of the present resolution.

82nd plenary meeting
17 May 2013

[1] Resolution 61/295, annex.
[2] E/2012/43, para. 39.
[3] A/67/506‑S/2012/752, annex I.

17 May 2014

Ma'ohi Nui (French Polynesia) Commemorates 1st Anniversary of Re-inscription by United Nations as non self-governing territory


"...In cases such as French Polynesia, an arrangement termed 'autonomous' can continue with political inequalities passed on from earlier dependency versions, and then projected as a valid form of self-government, notwithstanding the nature of the specific arrangement which in this instance has never been compared against internationally recognised self-determination criteria. The model which has been constructed for, and applied to French Polynesia is illustrative of a governance arrangement with its genesis in a dependency model which has been changed in form and nomenclature over time, but not in substance. This has served to perpetuate the political power imbalance which has led to a process of internalisation and de facto legitimisation of the political dependency model under the guise of 'autonomy.' It should not surprise that such a model would be inconsistent with international principles of full self-government." 

- Excerpt from the "Assessment of self-governance sufficiency in conformity
with internationally-recognised standards - Country French Polynesia."


The re-inscription of the territory now provides an opportunity for the people to move toward an act of self-determination where the options of full political equality would be available. This right is guaranteed by international law, and will  now be watched closely by the United Nations.
U.N. re-inscription requires not only clear evidence of democratic deficiencies in the political arrangements of non sovereign countries, but also needs political support by member countries of the U.N. General Assembly for the process to succeed. There is ample evidence that the political status of this French dependency is far from what is considered under international standards, and the adoption of the resolution by the U.N. General Assembly, without a vote, on May 17, 2013 confirms this realisation."  

- an international decolonisation expert.

Political leader Oscar Temaru and Kanaky political leader Marie-Claude Tjbaou participate in commemoration marking the first anniversary of the U.N. re-inscription of French Polynesia. New Caledonia was formally re-inscribed by the U.N. in 1986.

Temaru and Tjibaou speak with the press during the commemoration.  

The two political leaders conduct press conference.

A few of the thousands of marchers in commemoration of U.N. reinscription.

Temaru provides information to the press during commemoration.

(Pictures by Overseas Territories Review)

16 May 2014

Referendum ta derecho di Pueblo Boneriano (Papiamentu)

James Finies
 Presidente i kordinado Fundashon Nos Ke Boneiru Bek


Pueblo di Boneiru a wordu inkorpora  i integra den estado Hulandes sin su aotorisashon legal kual mester tabata un eskoho i desishon di e pueblo liber i konsiente di  tur konsekwensia  previo di su eskoho, i for di despues di 10-10-10 a drenta un epoka di divishon i inseguridat ku nunka prome no tabata e kaso.

E desunion i divishon aki huntu ku tur kambionan ku a wordu i kada dia di nobo ta wordu desidi i ta traha ley pa e pueblo Boneriano pa e gobiernu di Hulanda situa na Den Haag i kaminda ku e pueblo su bos ku ta su poder demokratiko a wordu neutralisa a krea un situashon di desesperashon i sin salida pa e pueblo.

 Nos a  splika i roga na politikonan ku a soru pa e divishon aki ku ta ‘union” ta e solushon i pa kuminsa e kaminda di rekonsiliashon di e pueblo i restorashon di e pueblo su derechonan historikamente hereda i atkeri  pa por duna e pueblo ku ta desampara un speransa nobo.
Nos Rei nobo Willem Alexander a bini, a skucha, i a komprende e situashon ku su pueblo di su Reino ta konfrontando a priminti di lo juda i a duna e pueblo un speransa nobo.

Despues di esaki  gobiernu di Hulanda a kumpli ku promesa di Rei i resien a deklara ofisialmente ku “ ku nan ta respeta nos pueblo su derecho di autodeterminsahon konforme reglanan di Nashonan Uni i awor nos mes por bai referendum i hasi un eskoho estatal nobo den Reino i nan lo respete i ku nan tin deber di juda nos i ku nan lo renegosha ku nos den kuadro di ley internashonal di igualdat, rasonabilidat, integridat i buena fe”

25 di februari Konseho Insular a uni den e moshon i desishon den su totalidat i unaninamente tur miembro a bai akuerdo ku lo mester tene un referendum pa por trese pas i trankilidat bek den e pueblo Boneriano i esaki a wordu ratifika ofisialmente  atrobe unaninamente pa tur miembro di raad riba 1 april instalando e komishon pa duna un konseho prinsipalmente na e uniko puntu di diskushon o desakuerdo ku tabatin pa sea tene e referendum prome ku elekshon o despues di evaluashon.

E pueblo Boneriano a sinti un alivio i a rebiba nan speransa pa un solushon pronto pa por duna e pueblo e oportunidat pa eherse su  derecho di  disidi su mes riba su futuro kual ta su responsabilidat i su desishon. E union i kaminda di rekonsialshon a habri di nobo i un futuro briiante mirando ku Hulanda lo juda i kopera ku deseo di e pueblo a kuminsa bira realidat.

E reunion di konseho insular siman pasa 6 mei kaminda e komishon, konsisitiendo entre otro di tres(3) eksperto legal e duna nan konseho “awor o nunka” riba e mandato di konseho insular riba e  pregunta prinispal ki dia lo tene  e referendum sea prome ku elekshon o despues di evaluashon a wordu desaproba i silensia sin ningun pregunta o remarke riba e puntu di desakuerdo kual ta e momentu adekua pa tene e referendum sea prome ku elekshon o despues di evaluashon. Niun solo momentu so e diskushon o pregunta o moshon pa ku esaki no tabata na diskushon.

 I koalishon a disidi na final den un votashon pa para e proseso i asina para e referendum i a bira lomba pa e pueblo i traishona e pueblo ku a konfia den su representanten ku nan deber ta  di proteha e pueblo i su derechonan i a bolbe kita e speransa di e pueblo ku a kuminsa sinti i kere ku e solushon tabata na kaminda i ta kibra e proseso di union i rekonsiliashon ku a kuminsa kue forma i a bolbe dividi e pueblo un biaha mas i awor e pueblo a bolbe kai den un estado di desesperashon i ta insierto di su futuro i ta riska di entrega nos pueblo su futuro den man di otronan.

Un jamada ta bai un biaha mas na direkshon di nos miembronan di konseho insular pa por rekonsidera nan posishon i tene kuenta ku nan a wordu skohe pa sali na defensa di nos pueblo i su derechonan i no lo kontrali i no por entrega esakinan bek sin autorisashon di e pueblo.  Mester tene debidamente kuenta ku e rogamentu i sklamashon di e pueblo pa debolbe esakinan bek  si no ta duna e pueblo  tambe e derecho di por eksigihi su derechonnan bek  di kualke otro forma  kual nos no ta spera ku lo mester ta e kaso si miembronan di nos konseho insular tene kuenta ku ley i nan konsenshi i aktua konforme esey.

14 May 2014

Virgin Islands' first Premier, former Chief Minister to retire from politics

Virgin Islands News Online

Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE will not seek reelection!

- Longest serving Virgin Islands Leader told his 9th District Committee that he had enough and will not seek reelection when term ends in 2015/16

VALLEY, Virgin Gorda, VI - In a history making decision that has sent shock waves throughout the political class both locally and regionally the Virgin Islands’ first Premier and longest serving elected Member of Parliament in the English speaking Caribbean Honourable Ralph Telford O’Neal OBE has called it quits.


13 May 2014

Don’t Forget The Contributions Of Black History Giant Hubert Harrison

African Globe

Hubert Henry Harrison photo
Hubert Henry Harrison
AFRICANGLOBE – Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of 20th-century history. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color photo as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.” This extraordinary praise came amid chapters on Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter and Marcus Garvey.

Rogers adds that, “No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten” others and “none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program.” Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Harrison’s friend and pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was also “ahead of his time.”

Born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, on April 27, 1883, to a Bajan mother and a Crucian father, Harrison arrived in New York as a 17-year-old orphan in 1900. He made his mark in the United States by struggling against class and racial oppression, by helping to create a remarkably rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans and by working for the enlightened development of those he affectionately referred to as “the common people.”


12 May 2014

Inter-Virgin Islands Council meets to strengthen BVI-USVI ties

Caribbean News Now

USVI Governor John de Jongh (L) and BVI Premier Dr Orlando Smith
at Sixth Inter Virgin Islands Council meeting in Tortola

ROAD TOWN, BVI -- The British Virgin Islands (BVI) and United States Virgin Islands (USVI) continued to strengthen ties as senior government officials met and reported on areas of shared interests during the sixth Inter-Virgin Islands Council (IVIC) on Thursday.

Executive director in the International Affairs Secretariat, Sylvia Moses stated, “The IVIC is the formal side of the BVI-USVI relationship where our legislators and policy makers explore different ways to support or enhance the relations between the BVI and USVI, and monitor or introduce policies designed to improve the quality of life for the people of the two territories.”

At the House of Assembly meeting held on March 13, BVI premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, stated, “Our territories’ mutual commitment to the Inter-Virgin Islands Council demonstrates that both our governments recognise the need to build an even more effective framework for continued meaningful and productive social, economic and political exchanges. It is a forum for mutual consultation and collaboration between the respective governments.”

Smith added, “Today our territories’ mutual interests and challenges are different than in 1951, but the spirit of family and oneness are the same.”

A number of initiatives have arisen from the council meetings. These include gang awareness sessions in the community and at the Elmore Stoutt High School and information exchange between law enforcement personnel in both jurisdictions.

Smith headed the BVI delegation which included permanent secretaries and relevant senior officers. 

The council received updates on law enforcement, pleasure boating, tourism and education. Also discussed were initiatives to explore the scope of cooperation in BVI musician work permits.

Other developments include: joint territorial training on newly acquired microfilm equipment to digitize historical documents and data; meetings to discuss a US Customs and Border Protection patrol facility at the Red Hook marine terminal on St Thomas instead of St John, a US pre-clearance facility in the BVI, earlier operating hours for Customs and Border Protection to accommodate BVI residents and visitors travelling on early flights from St Thomas.

USVI Governor John de Jongh said, “I welcomed the opportunity to meet with Premier Dr Smith and the BVI delegation to discuss these issues of great importance to both territories. Today’s meeting follows on previous meetings of the council held in 2012 and 2011 in which many of these same issues were discussed.” 

“These are core issues that affect the well-being of the people of both territories and I am pleased that through the council, we have developed a collaborative effort in addressing these various concerns ranging from law enforcement to solid waste management and the very important challenge of energy costs,” he added.

The BVI government’s representation at the Inter-Virgin Islands Council meeting reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening regional and international relations, as well as maintaining its close ties with the USVI.

The Inter-Virgin Islands Council was established on Saturday, 29 May, 2004, when former USVI Governor Dr Charles Turnbull and Chief Minister Dr Orlando Smith signed a joint memorandum of understanding. The Council’s first meeting convened on St Croix in April 2005.

11 May 2014

Puerto Rico Resident Commission to the U.S. Congress comments on impact of political integration for territory

Pierluisi seeks hearings in Congress on GAO report on impact of PR statehood


Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi is pushing for public hearings in Congress on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) newly released report on the fiscal impact of Puerto Rico statehood on the federal government.

Pierluisi took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to outline the GAO’s findings and blast commonwealth supporters’ interpretation of the long-awaited analysis.

The 134-page GAO study released this week found that statehood would mean billions of dollars in additional federal funding for Puerto Rico while also boosting Washington’s tax haul by hundreds of millions annually.

The study, “Puerto Rico: Information on How Statehood Would Potentially Affect Selected Federal Programs and Revenue Sources,” includes the budget impacts if Puerto Rico and island residents were treated like the states in more than two dozen federal programs and tax laws.

Pierluisi pointed to the November 2012 status plebiscite in which a majority of voters rejected the current territorial status and then picked statehood as the favored alternative on the two-part ballot.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s longstanding economic problems have “devolved into a crisis” over the past year, according to the resident commissioner.