Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Unravelling of US Empire

To be a law-abiding nation, the U.S. must grant self-determination in areas it has stolen, write Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.  

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

The results of centuries of U.S. empire, which began with Manifest Destiny that crossed the North American continent and grew into a global empire, are coming home to roost in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Puerto Ricans had an important victory in July with the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló after more than one million people protested to demand his removal. This was a powerful display of people power, but changing the head of state does not confront the real issues for Puerto Rico: ending colonialism and ensuring self-determination. 

There is confusion after Rosselló’s resignation. The next in line has already resigned and Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez, who is in line after that, does not want the job. Puerto Rico’s economy is a mess after Hurricane Maria, Wall Street theft and domination by a federal financial control board. The Control Board, known as la junta, is seeking to expand its power with the support of The Washington Post editorial board, to further dominate the island. This is the opposite of the next essential steps, which require decolonizing the island and empowering the people of Puerto Rico.

Demonstrators in island-wide protests in Puerto Rico calling on the governor to resign, July 22. (YouTube)

Hawaii, which was an independent nation that became a state in 1959 after the U.S. stole it, is facing protests against a telescope on its tallest mountain, a sacred area. While the telescope is the focus of the protests, the real issues are much deeper and point to a growing demand for independence. This is not being reported in U.S. media or noted by U.S. political leaders.

The demands for independence of Hawaii and Puerto Rico are part of the unraveling of U.S. Empire.

Puerto Rico’s Ongoing Political Crisis

Puerto Rico lives under colonial rule. Last month was the 121st anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1898 when Spain ceded it to the U.S. at the end of that war. Puerto Rico is now a territory of the United States, a euphemism for a colony, with only a facade of democracy. They do not have voting representation in the Congress where Puerto Rico has a delegate who can only vote on procedural matters and in committees. As with the territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands, Puerto has no Electoral College votes for president. Courts have consistently upheld the disenfranchisement of people in U.S. territories as the Constitution directs that “electors” not “voters” decide the presidency.

The colonial nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico was made worse when in 2016 President Barack Obama created a seven-member Financial Oversight and Management Board that has ultimate control over the Commonwealth’s budget. The board, riddled with conflicts of interest, has more power than elected officials and has restructured Puerto Rico’s debt by cutting deeply into the public service budget, including cuts to health care, pensions, and education, in order to repay creditors.

U.S. General Nelson Miles and soldiers on horseback, Puerto Rico, July 8, 1898. (Strohmeyer & Wyman/U. S. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

The treatment of Puerto Rico violates international law. Under the UN Charter, the United States must respect the “inalienable right to complete freedom, … sovereignty and the integrity.” The U.S. is required to work toward the “unconditional end of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.” The “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of Puerto Rico is “a denial of fundamental human rights” as all people “have the right to self-determination” and to “freely determine their political status” and “pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

International law requires the U.S. to take “immediate steps … to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations… in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.” Since the creation of the United Nations, more than 80 former colonies have gained their independence. However, decolonization is still a work in process. In 2010, the UN  declared 2010 to 2019 the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and urged nations to implement a plan to end colonization. 

The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and General Assembly Resolution 1514 and Resolution 1541 further clarified steps to decolonization. The first step toward decolonization is to allow a country to develop its own constitution and democracy so it can freely determine its status. This requires the U.S. to decolonize Puerto Rico so it can determine for itself whether it wants to stay a territory, become a state or freely associate with the United States as an independent nation. 

The quest for an independent sovereign nation of Puerto Rico has been a long and violent one. There has been an intense U.S. war against Puerto Rico that has included U.S. troops occupying Puerto Rico, aerial bombings, massacres of nationalists, execution of political leaders, and mass arrests including arrests of farmers, women and children. Puerto Ricans have fought back on the island but also in Washington, D.C., including the 1950 attempted assassination of President Harry Truman and in 1954, four nationalists opened fire from the visitors’ gallery above the House of Representatives chamber spraying some 30 shots onto the House floor and wounding five lawmakers.

In the Trump era, Hurricane Maria, which caused thousands of deaths and knocked out electrical power across much of the island for months, highlighted the mistreatment of Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans exemplified the mockery of inadequate federal aid to the island after the hurricane. Prior to that was the theft of the savings of Puerto Ricans by Wall Street, amounting to 10 percent of the island’s gross domestic product. Trump still lies about aid to Puerto Rico and is blocking the funding needed by the island. Today, the island is three years into a deeply unpopular debt-restructuring of about $129 billion and still has $55 billion in unfunded pensions. There is no clear resolution in sight. 

Flood waters in Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017, after Hurricane Maria slammed the island. (Puerto Rico National Guard/Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos)

For far too long, the rules have been written for Puerto Ricans, not by them. The island has been a colony of the U.S. for more than 100 years and was a colony of Spain before that. It is time to decolonize.

The first steps should be to end the Federal Financial Control Board, cancel the debt and provide adequate resources for the recovery from Hurricane Maria and the thieving of Wall Street. The people of Puerto Rico are capable of managing their own affairs. Erica González the director of Power 4 Puerto Rico suggests some immediate steps including supporting the leadership of community-based groupsland trusts, and municipalities with strong, proven records on the island.”

Join us for the People’s Mobilization to Stop the U.S. War Machine and Save the Planet from Sept.  20 to 23 in New York City. On Saturday, Sept. 21, we will participate in the Puerto Rican Independence March.

Hawaiian Independence Movement Grows

Native Hawaiians and allies are camped at the base of Mauna Kea to protect the summit of the mountain from the construction of a proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, a massive 18-story, five-acre telescope complex being built on sacred land. Mauna Kea, measured from its base, is the tallest mountain in the world and represents the birthplace of Hawaii island and the Hawaiian people. The summit is associated with a number of important gods and goddesses and is the site of numerous burial places and altars. 

Hawaiians have been protesting the placement of telescopes on the mountain since 1968 but in reality, it is a conflict that is at least a century in the making, beginning with the arrival of colonialism in the Hawaiian lands.

In 2015, Native Hawaiians and allies halted the project by camping out and blocking the road to construction crews for months, until the Hawaii Supreme Court officially stopped construction in December 2015. But, the governments backing the telescope have persisted and are seeking to put it in place again. 

In response, Native Hawaiian protectors returned to Mauna Kea. The current protectors are once again blocking construction. Over the last week and a half, they have created a sanctuary governed by the principle of kapu aloha, a prohibition against acting without kindness and love towards all. The sanctuary offers free meals, medical care, and classes on topics related to Hawaiian language, history, environment and more to anyone willing to show up to support the cause. These actions demonstrate that the conflict is not merely about a massive telescope on a sacred mountain but about the long history of resisting colonialism.

Protesters rally on Mauna Kea. (The Garden Island)

In 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom was recognized as a sovereign and independent nation that maintained over 90 legations and consulates throughout the world. On Jan. 16, 1893, U.S. troops invaded Hawaii, which led to a conditional surrender by the Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani. She said she did so “to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life” recognizing the U.S. had a superior military force. 

President Grover Cleveland initiated an investigation, which found that the sovereign nation submitted to the U.S. due to threats of war. Cleveland told Congress the U.S. committed an act of war and that “without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.” In short, the U.S. committed an unlawful overthrow of an independent and sovereign nation.

Statue in Hawaii of King Kamehamehain, who in 1795 established a unified monarchy across the archipelago. (Lux Tonnerre/Wikimedia Commons)

Recognition of that illegal overthrow persists. In 2018, Hawaii County Council member Jen Ruggles released a letter that cited a communication from Alfred M. deZayas, a United Nations independent expert, who sent a communication to judges in the state of Hawaii on Feb. 25 2018. It said: “I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state in continuity; but a nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexation.” In 2018, Ruggles refused to vote on new laws because of the illegal occupation of Hawaii and the lack of legal legitimacy of the council. In March 2019, the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild concurred, finding that Hawaii is illegally occupied by the United States. A detailed history of the overthrow and illegal annexation of Hawaii is described by Jon Olsen in his book “Liberate Hawai’i.” A lawsuit was filed challenging the annexation but the federal court refused to consider the matter.

The U.S. has stolen land and created territories and states illegally. Its courts refuse to consider the issues, claiming they are political and not appropriate for courts to consider. This allows these crimes to continue and not be corrected. The recent revolts in Hawaii and Puerto Rico show that for the people living in these areas, these matters need to be reconsidered and corrected.

The U.S. needs to become a law-abiding nation and that means allowing self-determination in areas stolen by U.S. empire. The people in these areas are making significant strides toward these goals. Others can support them by joining their struggles through marches and other acts of solidarity. With the unraveling of U.S. empire, they may one day be free.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers co-direct Popular Resistance.

A version of this article first appeared in PopularResistance.org.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment PolicyAllegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed

35 comments for “Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Unravelling of US Empire

  1. Reality Joe
    August 5, 2019 at 20:41

    Gotta love the white busy body authors spreading nonsense communist propaganda about the hapless Hawaiians … who, News flash, aren’t even the native Hawaiians, which were all but eradicated by Polynesians that came later.

    And the height of the utter stupidity is Puerto Rico complaining about being colonized after parasitizing off white American tax money fore decades and being given American citizenship even though they don’t deserve it, all white also being whites as Hispanics, ak from Hispania, aka, Spain, the original genocidal ethnic cleansers that eradicated all native Carribs, now living on an island they can’t manage and is utterly polluted with degeneracy and crime and incompetence and corruption, and producing degenerates like AOC who’s name is Cortez, a descendent of the genocidal mass murdering and mass raping ethnic cleanser of native Americans.

  2. Dee Cee
    August 5, 2019 at 18:21

    I worked in Hawaii as an archaeologist for several years. I loved it there, but it was never really my place, despite desperately wanting it to be my place. It was not my ‘aina and I was never going to become a maka ‘ainana. I encountered the tension between those who had legitimate claims as cultural lineal descendants of specific ahu pua`a and even witnessed how corporations take the mahele lands from ordinary citizens without their knowledge through “adverse possession.”

    Even as someone who loves the US, I would give Hawaiians (real ones…. there’s a lot of fakers among them) a chance. However, I also saw that there was so much in-fighting amongst Hawaiian groups, that I can see they’d need some seriously strong leadership to pick back up where Queen Lilioukelani left off in 1917. Plus, they’d be taking over a MESS left by corporate invaders, overseas investors, and of course, the military. Any change int eh status of Hawaii today would result in a very difficult time for all who live there.

  3. mary e
    August 4, 2019 at 18:15

    One day , in the not to distant future, the US will have to face the music and be honest and upfront with the world (which already knows it stole Hawaii) that it is illegally occupying the islands of Hawaii…making it a state was to protect the pineapple industry of the Dole company…and then of course, it made a perfect place to install military sites, including the naval base in Honolulu, to protect the mainland of the US from Japan and any other comers…Well, that’s all over with so it is past time that the US gives up the lands which it stole and returns it to the Hawaiian people. Puerto Rico should have the same chance to free itself of the Washington and Wall Street machines.

  4. Stan Welli
    August 4, 2019 at 10:22

    We used to own the Philippine Island but granted them independence following WWII. They seem to be doing reasonably well except for periodic “flashbacks” into third world status. But hey-what about Alaska? We practically stole it from the Russians in 1867 for just a few pennies an acre. Should we give it back to Mother Russia?

  5. Kaleohano...
    August 3, 2019 at 21:45

    It’s BullShit and Pathetic how the Federal Courts refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Our claims..And Leave It To Continue..If Not Them!.Then Who Do We Take It To, So that We Get Back What Is Rightfully Ours???…Excuse Me,Couldn’t Hear U With That Boto In Your Mouths…

  6. Marc Landry
    August 3, 2019 at 17:17

    It’s time for the “state” government be established by thr Kingdom of Hawaii. If they CHOOSE to be part of the USA, then they must have full representation in federal arena. Local matters need to be in the hands of the Kingdom. When this is restored, they can work out a constitution and properly move forward. Hawaiians need to in control of all matters involving land, natural resources, agriculture,etc.

  7. August 3, 2019 at 13:07

    Everywhere we look, it’s empire, isn’t it? Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Phillipines… it all started with stealing the land from the natives, then importing slaves from Africa to work this stolen land, didn’t it? This is our national story, the real one!


  8. Paulette Kamakea
    August 3, 2019 at 12:15

    Mahalo (Thank you), for publishing this article. The constant acts of genocide and theft toward our people is unconscionable but, it goes on.

  9. Steven Thomas
    August 3, 2019 at 10:49

    E? e Mauna A W?kea! A i ke Aloha ‘?ina hope loa! ???

  10. Walter
    August 3, 2019 at 08:41

    There can be no question of Justice except between equals in Power. Thus what the “US needs” or what Hawaii needs, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that as the Imperial Force (power) declines relative to other Powers nascent Hawaiian national forces regain by degrees Power vis a vis Imperial Power. The Free State of Hawaii is quite liable to re-emerge from occupation, in the fullness of Time.

    Much the same process is liable to occur in the Western States of USA as Russian and Chinese Imperial economic relations come to dominate those areas.

    There is, as part of OBOR and Heartland Integration, plan to run rail under Bering Strait and new rail through the US midwest, Mexico, and all the way to the Straits of Magellan…

    All Empire is based on economic concerns…

    The writing’s on the wall…

  11. Gerry L Forbes
    August 3, 2019 at 03:11

    “No taxation without representation!” was a rallying cry of the American Secession (not a revolution; successful revolutions are always attacked by outside forces on behalf of the powers that be) so Puerto Rico’s status demonstrates the high regard in which Americans hold their founding principles.

    Barack Obama should never have been president because he WAS born in Hawaii and the United States of America has no legitimate claim to the territories of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Also, the telescope may just be a spark, the fuel being GMO crop testing on the islands. Hawaii’s climate allows four crops of corn to be planted a year and the “testing” basically consists of seeing how much pesticide the crop can withstand resulting in a great insult to the land and its inhabitants. The difficulties in dealing with this issue may have contributed to Hawaiians questioning their relationship with the US.

  12. Henry
    August 2, 2019 at 19:08

    I live in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu. The problem in Hawaii is that the Government in power, (Democrats) do not know how to enforce the rule of law. The development of homeless camps on all Islands are a sign of this. The telescope protesters are just a show that the Democrats put on to save a few votes. If they did their job every day, none of this telescope protest fiasco would ever materialize. It is just a waste of time and money all around.

    As far as the US “taking”’the Hawaiian Islands, it was pretty much given away long ago. The Hawaiians did not realize what really the white man wanted. They thought the white man would “share.” They were absolutely wrong.

  13. Troy Grant
    August 2, 2019 at 14:29

    PR could send for experts from Scandinavia to show them how to set up good direct democratic government.

    • Héctor Reyes
      August 3, 2019 at 11:51

      Thank you for placing the stories of Hawai’i and Puerto Rico in a common context. We in Puerto Rico must learn from the history of our Kanaka sisters and brothers, as a cautionary tale. Contrary to the generalized notions of self-determination, independence is the only course that sustains true sovereignty. Statehood, rather than providing the native people of Hawai’i with self-determination, has actually deepened their oppression. They are an oppressed minority in their own land, dispossessed, their language almost extinguished, suffering the worst statistics regarding education, incarceration, etc., when compared to other sectors of contemporary Hawaiian society. This is the mirror in which us Puerto Ricans must see ourselves. Statehood is nothing but the consummation of settler colonialism in Hawai’i, and it will be the same for us in Puerto Rico.

      Those who highlight the last two “plebiscites” in Puerto Rico stating that statehood won majority support are dishonest, for they are hiding the full story. In both plebiscites there was a massive electoral boycott. In the last plebiscite (2017) everyone but the pro-statehood party abstained. The turn out was just under 23% of the eligible voters, of which 97% voted for statehood. They couldn’t even muster one quarter of the electorate to support statehood. In reality it was a deep embarrassment for the pro-statehood party, the PNP, which after it recovered from the shock, went on a public relations campaign to peddle a lie. They were led by their liar in chief, the now overthrown governor Ricardo Roselló. At this moment, the party of statehood lies in disarray, at the bottom of a political latrine.

      Regardless of all the legalese of international bodies such as the U.N., the brutal facts both in Hawai’i and Puerto Rico scream in all directions that the only genuine decolonization alternative to accomplish full sovereignty is independence.

  14. Anthony Shaker
    August 2, 2019 at 14:17

    I tip my hat to the authors. I can see that present realities are making us all much more lucid about the future prospects of world domination by the West (America, England and France). About 150 years, all told, this has been one of the shortest imperial enterprises in history (discounting the preceding genocides in the Americas before the rest of the world was finally subjugated). The world had been civilized and developed in every sense before the colonial onslaught derailed the natural course of human history.

    Western colonialism was hatched in the westernmost, most marginal and perpetually backward part of the European subcontinent. But this story is coming to an end. Let us hope that Western governments will eventually get a hold of themselves. Will they have the sense to calm down and stop blocking the path of humanity, which includes everyone? The alternative, given the steady (and unstoppable) return to human history, are too horrible to contemplate. Ther peoples of America, the “United States” in particular, will have to decide how to deal with our sordid past. We owe it to our children and their children…

  15. Jock
    August 2, 2019 at 13:03

    Thanks for publishing this piece. The 2018 letter by Alfred deZayas, an independent expert for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has been largely suppressed in Hawai?i and in the rest of the country by the MSM. It is a game changer.

    Yes, the comments here to the effect that the US will never voluntarily “give back” Hawai?i are probably true. And at this point, the Kanaka Maoli only comprise about 10% of the population. Asians are 38% and Whites (Haoles) are 25%. Having grown up in Hawai?i and attended public school there, a local Haole, I know well that Asians can be every bit as willfully ignorant, chauvinist and racist as Whites. Any referendum now would result in a vote for the status quo. Or, if paper independence were to be momentarily granted, there would quickly be a vote to rejoin the US. There was in effect a referendum at the time of the overthrow in 1893, when 40,000 Native Hawaiians signed a petition opposing the overthrow. That was basically every adult Hawaiian alive in 1893, the remnant of a population decimated by Western diseases, down from a possible pre-contact level of 1.2 million. However, even if the US does not relinquish its conquest, all land titles remain permanently in question as well as the consequences of all legal judgements.

    At the dissolution of the Soviet empire, the USSR withdrew from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, occupied states with a legal status often compared to that of Hawai?i. As the climate crisis results in greater and greater coastal inundation, Hawai?i will become less desirable as a military outpost and economically viable entity – along with some other US continental states. In 50 or 100 years, or perhaps sooner, the decision about “granting” Hawaiian independence may well become moot.

  16. August 2, 2019 at 12:44

    I do agree with everything your saying about Puerto Rico, its a lot a money involved, US. Takes from Puerto Rico 77 billions every year from taxes and tourism, US said that they give Puerto Rico 90million a year, meaning that Puerto Rico can survive without US.
    The way I see it is, US is making money from Puerto Rico, that why US. they don’t want a buch. So the money we get from US. is not a gift, its our own money, you can also explain that to US. citizens, because the way Mr. Trump talk to the news is like his doing us a favor and is not, his giving us back the money he takes from year after year. Then he fills his mouth taking about the foodstamp and medical he give to Puerto Rico, thats the way he closest the elders mouth by giving them foodstams and medical, we dont need that, we can survive like other countries, medicine is free, university are free, and supposedly their poor countries, so don’t understand. Been america number one and you have to pay to live in america the beutiful.!!!

  17. IvyMike
    August 2, 2019 at 12:13

    If we have to return all the land we stole there won’t be anything left with which to pay reparations to the descendants of all the people we stole.

    • August 2, 2019 at 15:22

      Returning the land USA is much better offer than US dollars that can’t buy a home, apartment to rent, good health care any more!

  18. Eddie
    August 2, 2019 at 12:09

    Since when has the US empire cared one whit about international law?

  19. August 2, 2019 at 11:58

    Most Americans do not want Puerto Rico and would be happy to be rid of it. Congress has offered statehood to Puerto Rico and the citizens have rejected the offers. The taxpayers of the mainland would be more then happy to stop financial support of a corrupt society which Puerto Rico truly is. The guestion is…what do we have to do to help you gain your independence?

    • August 2, 2019 at 12:50

      I think you have to start reading the story of Purto Rico. We dont get anything for free. Your president takes our taxes every year, 77 billon a year, so what we get is nothing compare to what US. Takes every year, dont ignorant and read, we are not mexico.

    • August 2, 2019 at 15:49

      Puerto Rico is corrupt because the USA totally corrupted. A nation that is a dying Roman Global empire that has destroyed it own economy by bankrupting from the 1 trillion dollars a year it spends to support a empire that has more cracks and wrinkles than a great-grandmother is lost forever in the black hole called the pentagon. If you don’t think the great USA is a global Roman empire then why do we military bases in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, and Turkey. Naval ships, submarines destroyers aircraft carriers in every ocean inthe world, also planes and bombers flying all over the world.If USA don’t start downsizing the Global empire it will destroy your country. It will be game over for everyone in these United States.

  20. Susan Smith
    August 2, 2019 at 11:48

    Mauna Kea has about a dozen international observatory’s there now, the proposed telescope will be a larger lens. In concert with the others new one will provide views of the cosmos not available before. The ancient people of Hawaii were navigating the pacific via the night sky for thousands of years. Historically, they were stargazers…Confused about why another observatory isn’t welcome? Additionally, the University of Hawaii , Hilo will be infused with much needed funding and jobs.

    • Paulette Kamakea
      August 3, 2019 at 12:57

      The 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea are not working with this new TMT. 1/2 of the 13 telescopes don’t work and were to be dismantled but, are still rotting up there. The 140 jobs or so will be for scientists & military they will not go to Hawaiians. Then when TMT is built the construction jobs will be done, they are not permanent jobs. The University does not have a lease or any proof that it has any legal authority, on the mountain. The mountain is sacred like Arlington, the Vatican and your temple of worship. We do not treat the bible with such onslaught so why do it to Mauna Kea the Mother of the Islands. Hawai’ians didn’t need an observatory to navigate the night sky, you are confused about the sciences here. The University is the bottom of the barrel education here, look it up. They bleed the people and take, take, take our aina. Look at the turn over, look at the history of Hawai’i. Don’t just read but understand what you are reading. Know your “Law of Nations”, before telling a country that it isn’t theirs.

  21. caseyf5
    August 2, 2019 at 10:50

    Hello Kevin Zeesee, Margaret Flowers and Everyone,
    This situation seems to be very similar to that of Greece! Greece is the poster child for the rest of Europe. First it is the south then the east and finally the western countries. The wealthy and powerful prey on countries that they have damaged to the max before devouring them so that there is nothing left on the bones of the country! I suspect that the inhabitants will be in one of four categories: peasant, peon, serf and or slave.

  22. Albizu Vive
    August 2, 2019 at 08:51

    As usamerica shows, once again, its true supremacist & fascist colors, puerto ricans need to look past their welfare checks, and other subsidies, and begin planning for imminent sovereignty; since it is obvious usamerica will never welcome, nor consider, brown skinned, non english speakers, as equals.

    The slave who finds pleasure in serving its master is no more intelligent that the slave master’s dog.

  23. August 2, 2019 at 08:41

    I guess the Navy likes having those islands. End of story. They will have to be taken by force from the military, if at all.

  24. Realist
    August 2, 2019 at 03:17

    Puerto Rico has voted in favor of statehood more than once in my lifetime (72 yrs). It has also voted for commonwealth status (what is has now) on several occasions. It has never voted for independence in my recollection. Perhaps that is why it is not fully independent. Cuba and the Philippines which were annexed from Spain at the same time as Puerto Rico both received their demanded independence long ago.

    I’d venture to say that the reason statehood has not been fairly granted to the petitioners from Puerto Rico is strictly due to partisan U.S. politics, the same factor keeping DC from equal representation for its citizens in both the Congress and the Electoral College. Neither party wants to concede the smallest edge in either body. All American territories and possessions are given the token rights to vote in party primaries, but not where it matters in that big domed structure on First Street in DC. I really doubt that either Hawaii or Puerto Rico will want to give up the advantages of being part of the Empire. It really does mean hellabucks especially for their wealthy insider elites. Since Puerto Rico has voted for statehood, to be fair, they should be offered it, and the two political parties should simply swallow hard and work in the interests of those American citizens (which they have been, but without voting rights and tax liabilities, for all this time). Seeing the never-ending chaos and gridlock offered by the chimeric Dem/GOPer War Party, maybe the Puerto Rican people would adopt the Greens or the Libertarians as their senators and reps. American holdings like Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Virgin Islands, Wake Island and Samoa simply do not have populations large enough to qualify for statehood, but Puerto Rico and DC crossed that threshold long ago. Time to **** or get off the pot. Make it a one-time offer. Statehood or independence, since colony status, according to these authors, is considered the worst possible affront by the global zeitgeist.

    • Albizu Campos
      August 2, 2019 at 08:40

      publicly funded surveys do not equate to a formal, legal binding, petition for statehood, nor commonwealth… the right to self determination has never been afforded to PR, not has congress ever acted on changing one iota of current colonial status.

    • evelync
      August 2, 2019 at 13:13

      The ugly history of Empire. e.g. Daniel Immerwahr’s terrific recent book “How to Hide an Empire” points out that the U.S. grab of Spain’s former “possessions” relied heavily on the losses Spain suffered from decades of bloody fighting encountered from the indigenous people of the Philippines, etc. etc.
      Initially the Filipino General welcomed the “help” from the Americans.
      But Spain conspired with the U.S. to hand over the territories to the “great white hope” instead of the people who believed they were winning their 30 year battle to get the yokes off their backs.
      Spain conspired with the Americans to betray the locals whose land should have been freed. More bloodshed followed – lots of it.

      • Realist
        August 2, 2019 at 18:01

        Oh, I know that. The U.S. gave neither country their independence out of generosity, but because of the prolonged and ferocious resistance. The Colt .45 automatic was developed specifically for use in the Philippines because the freedom fighters kept coming even though hit with several rounds of standard ammunition.

        It’s possible Puerto Rico could have obtained the same results if they pursued it. I know they got a crummy deal in the commonwealth arrangement, but maybe enough of them thought it was good enough to pass on taking up arms against the Empire. Maybe they liked having American citizenship and the option of moving to the mainland if they so chose. Total independence may well not have been their best path forward. What they need is a lot more clout in Washington, which statehood may or may not give them. I don’t assume that the authors of this piece should be the arbiters of Puerto Rico’s future.

  25. Jayeles
    August 1, 2019 at 23:52

    “Whereas, in a message to Congress on December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland reported fully and accurately on the illegal acts of the conspirators, described such acts as an “act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress”, and acknowledged that by such acts the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown…The Congress apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the [illegal] overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893 with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self determination;”
    S. J. Res. 19, 103d Congress
    Public Law 103-150—NOV. 23, 1993

    • Anonymous
      August 2, 2019 at 09:18

      Would this be a good time to bring up that calling the attack on pearl harbor an “attack on American soil” was a bit of a stretch? What this country did to Hawaii was obviously wrong – and what we did afterwards (and have done ever since) is a clear sign that this country lacks any form of genuine concern for its impact on anyone else.

    • Jeff Harrison
      August 2, 2019 at 09:28

      True. Clinton acknowledged that the US had illegally annexed Hawai’i. That’s about as useful as t*ts on a boar hog. He sure as hell wasn’t going to give the Hawai’ians their country back.

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