I learned about the continuing existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom in a roundabout way through an interest in nuclear disarmament and the protests against U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Hawai’i’s history and its unresolved status as an occupied nation reveal a deeply ironic contradiction in America’s imperial project. The numerous American bases located around the […]
There is no principle in international law more fundamental than the right of all peoples to self-determination. This is universally accepted by the entire world, yet nearly 70 years after the signing of the UN Charter, the United States continues to fight tooth and nail against this most basic human right.
On December 18, 2014, the U.S. was one of only seven countries to vote against a UN General Assembly resolution that passed with 180 votes affirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Earlier that year, the U.S. also found themselves on the wrong side of the international consensus when the UN Special Committee on Decolonization approved a statement to “reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination.”
Self-determination “denotes the legal right of people to decide their own destiny in the international order,” according to the Legal Information Institute. This right was enshrined in international law with its inclusion in the UN Charter in 1945. Article 1 of the Charter states that one of the purposes of the United Nations is: “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”
With Eric Holder on his way out the door as Attorney General, many Puerto Ricans are stepping up their calls for President Barack Obama to pardon 71-year-old political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has spent the last 33 years behind bars for seditious conspiracy. The holiday season is a common time for Presidents to use their power to grant clemency, but this was not to be in 2014 for the President who has granted the fewest pardons in modern times.
For Puerto Ricans, dismissal of their political demands is emblematic of their subjugation as colonial subjects.
In December, at a concert in San Juan, reggaeton singer René Pérez Joglar of the band Calle 13 brought López’s daughter Clarissa on stage to read a letter pleading for her father’s release. After winning the silver medal in judo in the Central American and Caribbean games in November, Augusto Miranda told the press: “I want to use this forum for all the people of Puerto Rico and the United States. It’s an abuse what they’ve done to Oscar López Rivera, political prisoner. It’s time to give him his freedom.”