LatinoJustice PRLDEF Statement on the Decolonization of Puerto Rico
New York, NY – Today the United Nations is hosting a conversation that has plagued Puerto Rico for centuries, the question of Decolonization. The conversation at the UN will take into consideration the international norms on decolonization as well the recent developments around the debt crisis in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria recovery. LatinoJustice PRLDEF has been involved at all stages of the historical and recent developments, it is with this in mind that LatinoJustice PRLDEF issues the following statement:
Forty-six years ago, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, known now as LatinoJustice PRLDEF, was born to address systemic discrimination, neglect and abuse of Puerto Ricans by government and private sector actors. The organization’s civil rights legacy was built upon the collective outrage that our community experienced as it was robbed of its political voice and social and economic capital. Today that outrage is manifested anew in response to the on-going economic crisis that Puerto Rico has been experiencing for the past several years and in the political crisis that it has faced for 120 years as a territorial possession of the United States.
As a human and civil rights organization dedicated to defending the rights of all Latinos, including Puerto Ricans, to lead a life of dignity, respect and meaning, LatinoJustice PRLDEF believes that Puerto Rico must be able to enjoy self-determination and participate in a true decolonization process immediately. Ours is an organization that depends upon, and leverages, the promise of the law every day. But in the case of Puerto Rico, tyrannical domestic laws have created and perpetuated a colony of the United States. The U.S. Constitution’s Territorial Clause, the Supreme Court’s selective application of constitutional protections to U.S. territories, and the unending discrimination practiced repeatedly by Congress all harken to St. Francis’ admonition that an unjust law is no law at all.
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