Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress said Monday he’d take his fight for statehood to the United Nations if the Barack Obama administration refuses to act.
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi made the comments during a testimony before the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization, which passed a resolution presented by Cuba affirming the island’s right to self-determination and calling on the U.S. government to free the independence fighters Oscar López Rivera and Norberto González Claudio.
“Let me be clear, Mr. Chairman,” Pierluisi said. “In the absence of concrete and timely action from the U.S. government, I will not hesitate to raise this case before the United Nations or any other appropriate international forum.” (Watch Pedro Pierluisi's speech before the U.N. Commitee on Decolonization in the video below).
The statement marks the latest development in a campaign by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and the pro-statehood New Progressive Party to change the island’s status after a non-binding referendum held in November found that 54 percent of Puerto Rican voters oppose the island’s current relationship with the United States.
“The current status has lost its democratic legitimacy,” Pierluisi said. “The only path forward is statehood or nationhood.”
Puerto Rico held a two-part referendum on Nov. 6 that breathed new life into the statehood movement, but has yet to make an impact on U.S. policy.
The question asked whether voters were satisfied with their current relationship with the United States. Dissatisfaction ruled the day.
But the second question did more to muddle the debate than establish a mandate. It asked whether voters favored becoming a U.S. state, an independent country or becoming a freely associated sovereign state.
Statehood won a clear majority of the votes cast, with 61 percent. But, urged by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, more than 480,000 voters cast blank ballots because remaining a commonwealth was not included, dropping the share of statehood votes to 46 percent of the total.
The U.N. Committee on Decolonization has voted 12 times in recent years to support Puerto Rican self-determination, but the vote hasn’t made it before the General Assembly, according to Terra.