24 November 2008

Referendum or Restitution?

This is gonna let some worms out of the can...

While researching some points on Hawaiian independence for an earlier post, I came across the World History Blog, discussing that subject. Although Hawaii's situation is very different from Puerto Rico's (they gave sovereignty to the U.S. in 1898, the same year the U.S of part of A. took Our autonomy by unsigned treaty), there is one common point: a referendum to decide political status.

In Hawaii's case it was a statehood vote; in Puerto Rico it was a choice to establish some new "compact" later called commonwealth. Many groups in Hawaii are still objecting to the change to statehood, and in the World History Blog post, the first argument point is that U.S. military personnel was allowed to vote in the referendum. Then comes this statement:

The second point is that the vote is illegal under UN rules as there was no choice for independence on the ballot. However, the UN certified this vote by removing Hawaii from the list of non self-governing territories. As this was a requirement of the UN, the UN had the legal right to interpret the vote. Hawaii was deemed to be a part of the USA by the international community by this action of the UN.

In other words, by being declared self-governing, the pro-statehood vote (94% of the votes cast, though only 29% of the eligible voters voted; talk about minority rule...) was deemed to be legally binding for the territory. In fact, neither domestic nor international law recognizes a right to a plebiscite before a transfer of sovereignty. Therefore, the U.N. resolution recognized Hawaii's right and authority to choose statehood.


Here's a quote from Wikipedia: During its 8th session, the United Nations General Assembly recognized Puerto Rico's self-government in November 27, 1953 with Resolution 748 (VIII). This removed Puerto Rico’s classification as a non-self-governing territory (under article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations). (Emphasis Mine.)

Puerto Rico held its constitutional referendum in 1950. The constitutionally-based commonwealth was inaugurated on July 25th, 1952. And yet, the U.N. recognized Puerto Rico's self-government in November 27, 1953.

Hooboy, We have a problem. For you see, up until that day almost exactly 55 years ago, We were not considered self-governing. So the process--the so-called negotiation--between the U.S. and Puerto Rico that led to the commonwealth "experiment" was not, as the pro-commonwealth party has always insisted, a deal between equals, it was an I-agree-to-allow-you hand-me-down between sovereign nation and its territory.

Therefore, if according to international law We stopped being a colony in 1953, then We have to face up to certain truths:

--As a self-governing territory, it is up to Us--and no one else--to make the focused effort to establish Our permanent status.

--The only binding plebiscite is a Congressionally-mandated referendum wherein We can put into motion whatever ultimate status We choose.

One can argue, like I do, that We are still a colony. Calling a politician a human being doesn't make him one. (Weak example, but Me like being snarky...) And under Our Constitution, We have no other choice but to establish a Congressional playing field for Us to then decide Our status future.

It's not like We haven't tried, though: 1898, 1912, 1914, 1919, 1923, 1929, 1932, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1956 and 1960 were "trying" years (in more ways than one.) Even if We "legally" couldn't have one until late 1953, that's 0-for-11 right there. Then in 1967, Our first true plebiscite went for commonwealth and nowhere (in more ways than one.) More local ones in 1993 and 1998 proved to be underwhelming, the last having 50.3% of the vote being for "None of the above."

So should We be trying for a referendum that Congress has shown for 110 years it isn't willing to be serious about or should We take the position of "You owe Us" with the U.S. for making an illegal grab of Our Island back in 1898?

Both positions run like crazed weasels through Our daily political life. I have a suggestion: Since the only option We can choose that doesn't require extensive negotiations with Congress and the Federal government is independence, how about We start ignoring the "ties that bind Us" and start acting independently, as if Our sovereignty were a given and thus to be used?

Impossible, you say? Why no. It's as easy as making a worldwide public proclamation to that effect and then walking the talk.

The U.S. won't stand for it, you say? Of course not. But how will they try to stop it...without placing the issues We need to discuss in full view?

It wouldn't work, you say? Not with the current crop of cretins We have in charge, but that's where We--the people, the voters--come in.

We've given the U.S. 110 years to make up Our minds for Us, almost exactly half of that time covered by years in which We could have done it Ourselves. In a matter of days, We will have spent more time with the power to decide than without it...and here We remain, between referendum and restitution. As We were in 1898, 1912, 1914, 1919, 1923, 1929, 1932, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1993, 1998 and 2008. And every year in between.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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