Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 6, 1996 issue of Workers World newspaper
New York - A May 18 conference in the South Bronx focused on organizing to protest the upcoming centennial of the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico--July 25, 1998. "Puerto Rico Committee '98," composed of Independentista groups and individuals, is calling for opposition to Washington's plans to commemorate this infamous historical event.
The scheduled celebration will glorify the outcome of the 1898 Spanish-American War in which the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico were invaded. Spain's colonial domination was then transferred to the United States in accordance with the Treaty of Paris.
Speakers at the conference also discussed the right wing's campaign calling for annexation of Puerto Rico through statehood with a proposed plebiscite for the centennial year. Unlike previous plebiscites, this time independence and statehood will be the only two options.
Many believe the right wing is confident of winning because of many setbacks the independence movement has suffered due to repression. Others also see the vote as a ploy to divert attention from potential protests against the 100th-anniversary celebration.
The conference underscored the prerequisites for a plebiscite, which the U.S. government refuses to recognize. They are: removal of all foreign military bases and personnel; removal of all repressive agencies of the colonizing government--FBI, CIA, DEA, etc.; transfer of all government powers to native jurisdictions; immediate release of political prisoners and POWs; immediate economic retribution; and eligibility to vote in the plebiscite for everyone who migrated to the colonizing country and their descendants.
Bomexi Iztaccihuati De Sendini, coordinator for the Andres Figueroa Cordero Foundation and correspondent for Claridad newspaper, explained the fallacies behind U.S.-sponsored plebis cites to Workers World. He said they "are meaningless simply because U.S. federal laws clearly state that the U.S. Congress has the final decision on matters concerning Puerto Rico, no matter what the outcome of a plebiscite vote."
Olga Sanabria, the former emissary from the Office Of Puerto Rico in socialist Cuba--a shadow embassy of the Puerto Rican struggle--added: "Our country is part of the international community of nations. The global effect of the fall of the Soviet Union is what the right wing in Puerto Rico, is taking advantage of."
The USSR was a principal supporter of Puerto Rican self- determination. Along with socialist Cuba, the Soviet Union fought hard to put the case of Puerto Rico on the United Nations Decolonization Committee's agenda. The Puerto Rican independence movement will never forget this act of solidarity.
Among other speakers at the conference were Ponce Laspina, representing the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, and a representative of Workers World Party, who spoke on the need to build solidarity against the common enemy of the workers and oppressed.
It was concluded that efforts in the United States will be planned in conjunction with anti-colonial mobilizing activities on the island for 1998. In opposition to this disgraceful celebration the conference agreed that the solemn words "Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!" will be heard throughout the world.
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