BUDPR Denounces Puerto Rico’s Colonial Status at the United Nations

A representative of our Puerto Rican diaspora organization advocating for decolonization and sovereignty testified at the UN Special Committee on Decolonization and joined other pro-independence leaders for a day of activism in New York.

JUNE 22, 2023 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Calling Puerto Rico’s colonial status a political condition that demands “attention and urgent action from the UN General Assembly,” a representative of Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (BUDPR) denounced U.S. colonialism and delivered a pro-sovereignty message today during official testimony in front of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization.

Rafael Olivera Cintrón, a young U.S.-based Puerto Rican who recently graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), delivered testimony on behalf of BUDPR at the United Nations. Describing himself as one of the millions of “colonial migrants'' whose families have been forced to flee their homeland by poor socioeconomic conditions created by colonialism, Olivera Cintrón denounced that “Puerto Rico has faced and continues to face worsening crises of democracy, human rights, displacement, economic oppression, childhood poverty, and health inequities” under U.S. rule.

“Neither the United States nor the United Nations and its General Assembly should ignore this issue and perpetuate colonialism. While they do, parents cannot feed their children, people cannot afford their medications, the old die due to constant blackouts, and the young are forced to leave because they cannot afford to live in their homeland. The time to confront this issue has come,” said Olivera Cintrón.

BUDPR’s testimony highlighted the need for action from the United Nations and the international community on an issue that has often been framed as a domestic political issue in the United States. Olivera Cintrón remarked that the failure of recent and current status legislation in the U.S. Congress underscores the limitations of that approach.

“U.S. lawmakers keep drafting legislation on Puerto Rico’s status that they know is doomed to fail, and that reflects the interests of U.S. politicians, not of the Puerto Rican people. The U.S. and its lawmakers have no interest in overseeing the dismantling of a colonial system from which they benefit. Therefore, the U.S. cannot plausibly serve as a just and neutral arbiter of a process that guarantees Puerto Ricans’ rights and respects basic standards of self-determination,” said Olivera Cintrón, who enumerated requirements for a fair decolonization process based on the framework BUDPR has shared with members of the U.S. Congress.

Cristalís Capielo Rosario, a member of the BUDPR Board of Directors, was also present at the meeting of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. After the day’s testimony, both BUDPR representatives and BUDPR co-founder Daniel Vázquez will join other leaders and activists from the Frente Independentista Boricua  for an afternoon of activism in New York City on behalf of Puerto Rican sovereignty.

This is the second straight year that Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora testifies at the UN Special Committee on Decolonization as part of our multi-pronged strategy to promote and pursue a fair decolonization process and a just political future for Puerto Rico.

“We believe the struggle for Puerto Rican independence has to be fought on every possible front,” said BUDPR President and co-founder Luis Ponce Ruiz. “We’re honored to speak at the UN and urge action from the international community, and to join activists in New York who have been involved in this struggle for decades. We will also continue our work in Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States, advocating for Puerto Rico’s sovereignty in Congress and educating the American people that colonialism must end.”