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PUERTO RICO has continued its push for independence nearly two years after Hurricane Maria exposed US “hypocrisy and bias” toward the Caribbean island.
Puerto Ricans petition the UN on an annual basis in the hope that the island can gain independence, and activists made the demand again yesterday at a special hearing of the United Nations decolonisation committee.
The UN has been considering the political status of Puerto Rico since 1953 and has been working to assist it to achieve independence or “decolonisation.”
It is currently an unincorporated territory of the United States but not a US state. It has no political representation in the US Congress and its 3.8 million citizens are unable to vote in elections.
In 1978 the special committee found that a “colonial relationship” existed between the island and the US.
The number of people in Puerto Rico below the poverty line is 31.5 per cent higher than in the US and its citizens warn that very little is being done about it.
Jocelyn Velasquez from the Socialist Fronts of Puerto Rico said the only solution to Puerto Rico’s problems is independence.
“Every year we go to the UN decolonisation committee to raise this problem, but there is no progress.”
The US has been criticised for failing to make the same provisions for Puerto Rico as it did for mainland areas damaged by the devastating 2017 hurricane.
The island received less than Texas and Florida, US states also damaged by the hurricane.
Since the storm, the US government has contributed $15.8 billion (£12.43bn) to repairing the island’s infrastructure, a figure that falls short of the $17 billion needed simply for the repair of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, which was damaged by the hurricane.
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